For the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Virtual Ability, Inc. provided virtual world training and mentoring to support of the “Older Persons’ Participation in Second Life: Implications for Well-Being” project.
In coordination with the Arkansas Area Agencies on Aging, this project aimed to introduce older adults over age 60 who live at home to Second Life and evaluate the efficacy of their participation in SL on improving psychosocial functioning (such as depressive symptoms, loneliness, satisfaction with life, social connectedness, and perceived social support). These adults were compared to a control group who were taught 2-dimensional social networking such as Facebook and email.
The project began in summer 2014 and was completed in spring 2015. Funding for the project was provided by Mather Lifeways Institute.
As a project partner, Virtual Ability’s role was to provide trained “Ambassadors” within the virtual world, who assisted the research participants once they entered Second Life. Virtual Ability also organized trips to interesting sites within Second Life, including dance clubs, beaches, and international venues.
Commenting on this project, Alice Krueger, president of Virtual Ability, Inc., explains, “As an older person myself, I know how important Second Life can be for socialization. It is always helpful to document through research the things we know through our own life experiences.”
Dr. Tim Killian, project director from the University of Arkansas, comments, “There is increasing interest in the use of virtual reality to provide for mental and social needs of people who are physically limited, or otherwise isolated from others. Although not everyone in our study embraced Second Life, several of our research participants reported benefits from visiting new places and meeting new people from all over the world.”