Research at HealthStreet: New UF study investigates effects of using virtual avatars to promote trust and social connectedness among older adults

What if online gaming could improve older adults’ well-being?


HealthStreet recruited approximately 100 people to a new University of Florida study that is investigating the effects of using virtual avatars to promote trust and social connectedness among older adults. Yu-Hao Lee, PhD, an assistant professor in the department of telecommunication in the UF College of Journalism and Communications, is leading the study to see whether avatar appearances of the user and others affect older adults’ communication experiences.

The study is based on a national preliminary survey of more than 2000 older adults that shows that older adults who engage in social game-playing behaviors report higher social connectedness and social capital.

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“As people age, their network size decreases and become more homogeneous, which leads some older adults to feel loneliness and disconnected from society,” Dr. Lee said.

By examining more than 100 community members in the HealthStreet cohort, Lee said he hopes to use the findings to better reflect the needs of older adults.

“Our goal is to design interactive communication technology that can promote the well-being of older adults and also facilitate collective intelligence, allowing older adults to contribute their knowledge to society and receive recognition for their contributions.”

Dr. Lee is happy with the recruitment services provided. “HealthStreet helped us find our target population in local communities and introduce our research to them.“





If you’re interested in collaborating with HealthStreet, please contact our study coordinator Lauren Light at or 352-294-4873