Improving Youngsters’ Resilience Through Video Game-Based Interventions

R. Menendez-Ferreira, J. Torregrosa, A. Panizo-LLedot, A. Gonzalez-Pardo and David Camacho

Vietnam Journal of Computer Science14 Apr 2020 - OPEN ACCESS

Radicalization, as a violent form of extremism, is a growing problem for Europe. Currently, it is possible to find extreme ideologies regarding almost every topic such as religion, politics or sports. This problem, which ranges from personal identity conflicts to complex societal issues, has an impact on several people every day, especially on youngsters. To confront this situation, the European Union found several initiatives, as a way to face this problem from a scientific perspective. Some of these initiatives face the problem trying to reduce radicalization by working on personal and social skills through education, in such a way the youngster’s resilience is improved. This paper aims to present YoungRes, a European project whose goal is to improve the resilience of youngsters. To do so, it unifies an already created intervention — named Fortius — through the inclusion of video games in the learning process. This paper describes both: (1) how the Fortius program is modified to allow video games sessions and (2) the software architecture designed to allow students and educators to participate in YoungRes project. Finally, different suggestions to include in future versions of the game are discussed.

Measuring and moderating opinion polarization in social networks

Antonis Matakos, Evimaria Terzi, and Panayiotis Tsaparas

Data Mining and Knowledge Discovery 31, pages1480–1505 (2017) - SUBSCRIPTION CONTENT

The polarization of society over controversial social issues has been the subject of study in social sciences for decades (Isenberg in J Personal Soc Psychol 50(6):1141–1151, 1986, Sunstein in J Polit Philos 10(2):175–195, 2002). The widespread usage of online social networks and social media, and the tendency of people to connect and interact with like-minded individuals has only intensified the phenomenon of polarization (Bakshy et al. in Science 348(6239):1130–1132, 2015). In this paper, we consider the problem of measuring and reducing polarization of opinions in a social network. Using a standard opinion formation model (Friedkin and Johnsen in J Math Soc 15(3–4):193–206, 1990), we define the polarization index, which, given a network and the opinions of the individuals in the network, it quantifies the polarization observed in the network. Our measure captures the tendency of opinions to concentrate in network communities, creating echo-chambers. Given this numeric measure of polarization, we then consider the problem of reducing polarization in the network by convincing individuals (e.g., through education, exposure to diverse viewpoints, or incentives) to adopt a more neutral stand towards controversial issues. We formally define the MODERATEINTERNAL and MODERATEEXPRESSED problems, and we prove that both our problems are NP-hard. By exploiting the linear-algebraic characteristics of the opinion formation model we design polynomial-time algorithms for both problems. Our experiments with real-world datasets demonstrate the validity of our metric, and the efficiency and the effectiveness of our algorithms in practice.