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cyberSELF: Game Plan for media-associated risk management.

by Natasha Persaud, MS, MD

Gamification mobile app, provides simple, accurate, social platform to educate, inspire, and support adolescents and their "support system" to develop and live healthier lives both on and offline.

Fort Sam Houston, TX Health Information Technology

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About this project

The problem we solve:
Self image. Self respect. Personal growth defines the teen years. Over 90% of youth use social media. Teens look for connections and self esteem in the cyber world. Internet and phone technology have triggered new and dangerous risks to teens through bullying, sexual solicitation and exploitation. Cyberbullying and other internet threats can lead to negative outcomes: poor physical health, depression, sex trafficking, suicide and more. The maturing brain struggles to process the emotions, information and solicitations on social media. Since brain connections that “fire together wire together”, teen internet patterns can impact lives for many years.The CDC reports that 20-40% of children and adolescent are victims of cyberbullying. Suicide and depression are more common among these teens. The internet is not going away. Youth needs a "safe surf course". Parents, doctors and teachers need to support their youth to build a strong cyberself, halt bullying and manage the associated risk.
About our solution:
CyberSELF, an on-line system will provide a fun, interactive gaming experience that will equip youth to recognize and respond to internet risks, including bullying, sexual and substance use solicitation, and internet addiction. CyberSELF provides a coordinated, multi-prong internet safety program to help youth, families, educators, healthcare providers, communities and court systems. CyberSELF empowers the medical community to collaborate with other stakeholders to address this public health problem. CyberSELF uses cutting-edge research for both gaming content and learning models. Electronic learning is superior to paper learning on issues of internet use. The gamification e-learning platform, allows teens to access confidential learning on demand. CyberSELF, our gamification mobile app, equips youth to develop accountability, safety and confidence on and offline. Their "support system" are also equipped to initiate and sustain important conversations about internet safety.
Progress to date: 1) Literature and education curricula including peer-reviewed scholarly articles and other existing cyberbullying prevention programs were evaluated for a) predictors and protectors for youth from cyberbullying b) lessons learned and recommendations to prevent cyberbullying c) recommendations for screening and diagnosing cyberbullying-associated health burdens 2) School presentations, guidelines for peer teaching, self-directed programs and discussions to teach adolescents, engage families and educators on safe electronic use, recognizing and avoiding cyberbullying and its associated-health burdens were prepared. 3) Physician’s office guidelines for screening for media usage, media-aggression, signs and symptoms of media-associated mood and mental illness and knowing when to seek help from pediatric psychiatrist and mental health provider. Proposal for this work was received, evaluated and funded by the Texas Pediatric Society Foundation.

About Our Team

Dr. Natasha Persaud, MS, MD
Medical Student, Medical Student
Location: Texas
Medical school: Texas A&M University Health Science Center (T
Bio: Natasha is a recent graduate of TAMHSC. Prior to medical training, she obtained Master’s degree in Biology and has conducted research in diverse topics including vaccine development and clinical trials for HIV. She has also taught various biology courses to undergraduate biology and nursing majors. Natasha is passionate about Teen health and is determined to bring awareness and find solutions to reduce the media-associated health burdens to the youth of our nation.
Title: Recent Graduate

About Team Members

Dr. Alma Golden
Retired Professor and Pediatrician, MD
Biography: Alma Golden M.D, is a retired profession and pediatrician. Dr. Golden’s lifetime work was to promotehealth and wellness for children and adolescents. Some of her appointments include: CDC expert panel HIV youth interventions; School of Health Advisory committee to TX State Board of Health; American Academy of Pediatrics: Task Force on the Family, Legislative Liaison; Editor in Chief: Adolescent & Family Health; Presidential Appointee : US Deputy Assistant Secretary For Population Affairs, DHHS.

About Our Company

Location: Fort Sam Houston, Texas
Product stage: idea
Sales: Working on it
Employees: 1-2

How We Help Patients

Internet threats impact mental and physical health. Like polio or tobacco in previous years, this health threat requires prevention, diagnosis and treatment to protect vulnerable populations. Youth need skills to identify online risks. cyberSELF mobile app will engage, educate and motivate youth to improve decision-making skills, both on and offline. cyberSELF can equip families, clinicians and educators to be the teen’s “support system” for media safety, thus reducing cyberbullying and emotional distress. cyberSELF can promote screening and early diagnosis to alert physicians and families to offer help resulting in fewer mental and financial burdens to families and healthcare systems. A cyberSELF teen benefits academically by managing stress, improving focus, and avoiding lost school days due hospitalizations. By preventing or managing cyber threats, fewer teens will require specialized mental health care, resulting in better access for adolescents with severe mental illnesses.

How We Help Education

Pediatricians and Family Physicians are the front line of defense against physical and mental health threats for youth. cyberSELF will provide education for physicians through four major paths:1) Doctors will be able to access an online blog providing current research regarding cyberbullying, mental health and other media-related health burdens. These research updates will inform cyberSELF. 2) With parental approval, clinicians will learn about how the teen is utilizing cyberSELF, to be able to support and encourage decisions-making and refusal skills around risks. 3) cyberSELF will have assessment tools included that will help clinicians identify teens that are at increased risk of bullying, exploitation or depression, providing opportunities for prevention or early management 4) Physician will add their insights and experiences regarding the youths they serve to a repository, that will further improve peer-physicians' education, cyberSELF, and national responses to cyber threats.

How We Help Physicians

For physicians that care for youth, few experiences are more distressing than suicide or incapacitating mental illness. It feels like the ultimate failure. Children with all their vaccines, nutrition counseling, normal development, and illness care can become disabled by depression or destroyed by suicide. Doctors know vaccine schedules, nutrition guidelines and car safety tips, but what about internet safety? Physicians can improve their practice through state of the art support to offer the best preventive care. Primary care providers using, cyberSELF clinician version will empower clinicians 1) to reinforce and support the patient’s education and prevention strategies 2) facilitate screening and early diagnosis, for media-associated mental illness, and 3) recognize and refer high risk patients. Patients and clinicians will be using the same metrics and evidence-based resources, this will promote better patient-physician relationship and a more efficient and effective practice.

Challenge Mission

Mission: cyberSELF is a physician-led project committed to reducing internet-associated health burdens to youth through evidence-based research, proven learning models, and family/physician collaboration.
Use of funds: AMA Healthier Nation Innovation Challenge grant will provide funds to tech developers to adapt evidence medicine and information technology into a gamification mobile app platform, cyberSELF.
Intellectual Property Status: Provisional application was filed and is pending.
FDA Status: cyberSELF based on most recent FDA guidance on mobile medical apps is not qualified for FDA regulation.
Personal Message: Self image. Self respect. Social and emotional growth is part of youth. Today’s teens live in a “cyber” world. It is now central to developing concepts of self and relationships. Cyberbullying, sexting, pornography, and other risks teens face can lead to depression, sex trafficking, academic problems, and suicide. The internet is here to stay. Youth need a “safe surfing course”. cyberSELF: a fun, interactive game to educate and connect to teens to great decisions, their families and doctors.


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    06/01/2016 Dr. Natasha Persaud - Physician

    Liked the project.

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    05/20/2016 Nancy McKnabb - Hospital Staff

    Liked the project.













Natasha Persaud, MS, MD
Recent Graduate
Texas A&M University Health Science Center (T

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