Please tell us a little about yourself
My name is Emma and I’m a PhD candidate in the Cyberpsychology Research Group at the University of Sydney. My undergraduate training was in health and psychology at the University of Sydney, which I draw a lot from in my postgraduate work. I went on to complete my Honours project with the CRG, where I investigated the mental health help-seeking behaviour of male videogame players. My PhD is an extension of this work. I’m very fortunate to be supervised by a fantastic team of academics in Associate Professor Andrew Campbell, Dr. Rowena Forsyth and Dr. Krestina Amon.
I immigrated to the Gold Coast from South Africa over a decade ago with my parents and two brothers. Since moving to Sydney for my studies, I’ve enjoyed exploring the beaches and amazing cafes. I love to travel and my (current) favourite city to visit is Berlin.
What is your research on?
The focus of my PhD is on videogames and how they may facilitate social connection. Social isolation has been shown to have a significant impact on mental and even physical health. Videogames have increased in popularity over the last 10 years and have evolved to include features that facilitate engagement with other players. My research will explore how videogames may promote meaningful connections between players.
What are the real-world consequences of your research?
Understanding the experiences and consequences of videogames is paramount to appropriately determining their risks and opportunities. While research has attempted to change behaviour or promote wellbeing by developing videogames (called ‘serious games’) less research has considered the potential benefits of commercial, off-the-shelf videogames. Individuals may consider joining communities of videogame players to meet others and develop meaningful connections.
What does digital health mean to you?
Digital Health, in my area of research, refers to the impact of technology on wellbeing. A nuanced understanding of this impact considers the context within which individuals engage with technology and considers both the positive and negative components (all while acknowledging that measuring this effect has considerable methodological challenges!)
Do you have any resources or links you would like to share?
Safe in Our World is a fantastic organisation promoting mental health in the videogame industry: https://safeinourworld.org/the-mission/
If you’re interested in learning more about Cyberpsychology more generally, this book by Dr Linda K. Kaye is fantastic: https://lindakkaye.wixsite.com/dr-linda-kaye/general-7
Finally, the to stay up-to-date on the happenings of the Cyberpsychology Research Group at the University of Sydney visit this link: https://www.sydney.edu.au/medicine-health/our-research/research-centres/cyberpsychology-research-group.html
All my details can be found through this link if you’d like to connect: https://linktr.ee/emmavdschyff.