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Computer Mediated and Initiated Intervention

Computer Mediated and Initiated Intervention

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Published by Steven Entezari
Identification and Intervention in Online Social Networking Crises
Identification and Intervention in Online Social Networking Crises

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Categories:Types, Research, Science
Published by: Steven Entezari on Mar 28, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Identification andIntervention in OnlineSocial Networking Crises
Computer Mediated and Initiated Interventions
Steven Entezari
The overall goal of this research is to identify the opportunities and impacts of computer-initiated and mediated Interventions for individuals who present signs of psychological crises on socialnetworking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Bebo, and others. To achieve this we plan to utilize what weknow about data mining, establish a dependable intervention structure suitable for online socialcommunities, and measure the effects of computer or human-via-computer-initiated interventions tocontribute towards the cyber-therapy paradigm. This research hopes to enhance current crisisintervention services by bringing awareness of available resources to the individual. As our socialsupport systems continue to include more and more of our online communities, we have moreopportunities to ask for help from others. However, due to the nature of online communities, and
psychological effects associated with them (bystander effect, deindividuation, disinhabition, etc…),
many of these cries for help can go unanswered.For everyday life, outside of the virtual world, if an individual finds the need to get help, theyhave the opportunity to call one of many hotlines and speak to someone about their issues (such assuicidal tendencies, depression, abuse, or others). To address the dire consequences of unansweredcries for help now being discovered within online social support networks, a system could be put inplace to intervene with those who send these cries for help to their social-support system, but do notreceive adequate responses. A cry for help to an online community is usually a secondary attempt aftertheir traditional real-world social support system. If help is not found here, there is no other attempt. Atthis point the individual has no other community to turn to.The model of crisis interventions via telephone hotline has been utilized across the world for amultitude of different crises. This type of crisis intervention is an attempt to offer the help necessary toan individual before that individual has the chance to develop pathological behavior patterns due to thecrisis at-hand (Rosenbaum & Calhoun, 1977). In this model, the individual takes the initiative to contactthe members of the hotline. However, a number of reasons exist for individuals in need not making thatcontact with such services. Some individuals simply do not know the existence of such services orresources to which they can refer to in their times of need. However, even if the individual is aware of the resources, they may feel more comfortable in an asynchronous situation allowing them time tocompose their thoughts before responding (Salem, Bogat, & Reid, 1997). These individuals, in onlinecommunities, exemplify those who initiate cries for help to their social support systems. When theircries are answered, it is a great example of why social support systems are so beneficial to ourpsychosocial development. This work, however, focuses on those occasions when these cries are notanswered and identifying opportunities to connect those individuals to the assistance they need.The anonymity and comfort of the Internet often leads people to disclose more personalinformation about themselves than they normally would in face-to-face communications (Joinson, 2001;Rheingold, 1993; Wallace, 1999). SAHAR (a Hebrew acronym), is an online project designed to provideindividuals in crisis situations with a shoulder to lean on, a listening ear, and the warmth of ananonymous and skilled helper, demonstrates the effectiveness and utilization of online-interventiontechniques (Barak, 2007). While SAHAR does address the importance and effectiveness of onlineinterventions, individuals must still know about this resource and access it themselves. SAHAR is notautomatically initiating the communication with the individual, as this research proposes to. The
question then becomes whether a computer itself can accurately and reliably identify personal crisissituations on social networking sites.Existing research demonstrates that data mining and computer analyses are valuable tools forcrisis intervention. Tiong-Thye Goh and Yen-Pei Huang (2009) have found that it is possible to monitoryouth depression risks in blogs and social media posts by comparing them to a dictionary of keywordsand phrases from depressed persons. In addition,
computer analyses of a suicidal person’s
self-reportedtendencies and demographics resulted in a more accurate prediction of a suicidal attempt within threemonths of the analysis than compared to that of clinician
s estimates (Gustafson, 1977; AEgisdottir,2006).During the identification of potential crisis-related messages, a critical factor will be to identifythose who have few social support interactions related to the crisis as well as those who have a historyof similar crises presented. While existing research suggests a presently unexplored opportunity toinitiate a fruitful intervention by a counselor assisted by an algorithm of a computer program, a majorfocus area for this research is to also discover how individuals in need will react to these computer- orhuman-via-computer-initiated interventions.There are a slew of potential implications for the cyber-therapy paradigm. The arena of cyber-therapy relies on individuals to know of the existence of cyber-therapy before getting any help. Sites likeMyspace and Google have began intelligently inserting psychological-help ads for messages that containsigns of depression or suicide (Goh & Huang, 2009; Huang, Goh, & Liew, 2007). Identification of crisis-messages can allow a volunteer, professional, or possibly an automated agent to provide resources, anopen ear, and even help to individuals that post pleas for help on communities like Facebook, Twitter,MySpace, and others. This could result in the creation of an alternative paradigm for the initiation of interventions, in which the computer algorithm helps to identify the individuals in need and make thatconnection between them and the resources they need.The idea here focuses around the fact that individuals are coming to their online social supportsystems for help. Usually this is a secondary-attempt, behind asking their traditional, real-world support
system. If they don’t get help here, there is no tertiary
-attempt. The individual, at this point, hasexhausted all social-support resources. At some point in the development of the Internet as a socialutility, for the health and humanity of those who can not help themselves, there should be a way forthese individuals to get the psychological resources they need. The contribution of the proposedresearch is to help address this very need.

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