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Worry And the depression In children, global mental health concerns are growing. new study It is suggested that robots could help detect mental health problems in children better than parent-reported or self-reported testing.
The study was carried out by psychiatrists, robotics and computer scientists from the University of Cambridge, and was recently presented in Naples, Italy at The 31st IEEE International Conference on Robots and Human Interactive Communication.
“In this work, we conducted a pilot study to investigate the use of robots in assessing children’s mental well-being in comparison to standard patterns of administering psychometric tests,” wrote study leader Hatice Gunes, professor of emotion intelligence and robotics at the University of Cambridge’s Department of Computer Science and Technology, along with fellow researchers.
during COVID-19The prevalence of anxiety and depression symptoms in children has doubled compared to pre-pandemic estimates globally, according to a study published in Gamma Pediatrics. Before the global COVID-19 pandemic, child anxiety and depression were on the rise. For example, in the United States over the period 2016-2020, anxiety in children rose by 29 percent and depression by 27 percent according to National Children’s Health Survey.
Even before the pandemic era, anxiety and depression among children in the UK had increased, resulting in an increasing incidence suicide The numbers,” the UK-based researchers wrote. “This increase in children with well-being concerns has turned into a real call to action by the healthcare and psychosocial support fields due to limited resources and struggles in understanding and addressing children’s needs.”
Scientists have sought to determine the extent to which robots can help assess mental health problems in children. The Nao robotic platform by SoftBank Robotics was used in this study. The fully programmable Nao robot is a bipedal robot that measures less than two feet in height and was first introduced in 2006 to create sympathetic bonding with humans. The Nao is equipped with seven touch sensors, four speakers/microphones, two 2D cameras, as well as speech recognition and dialogue capabilities in twenty languages.
The child-sized robot followed a pre-written script while studying while engaging children interactively. She asked the children to do tasks inspired by a standardized test in areas of child cognitive psychology. Specifically, the robot ran a picture-drawing task inspired by the children’s perception test, administered two questionnaires (the short mood and feelings, the child’s anxiety and depression), and asked open-ended questions about their recent happy and negative memories.
Prior to a 45-minute 1:1 session with the robot, 28 study participants aged 8 to 13 within Cambridgeshire in the UK and their parent or guardian filled out standard mental health assessment questionnaires.
“Our results show that instrumental assessment appears to be more appropriate for identifying anomalies related to well-being in children across the three groups of participants compared to self-report and parental reporting mode,” the researchers reported.
The scientists note that although robots outperformed parental report and self-report methods in the study and could serve as a useful tool to help assess children’s mental health, it is not intended to replace pediatricians in diagnosing and treating anxiety and depression. .
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