Handbook of Drug Abuse Prevention pp 629-648
Application of Computer Technology to Drug Abuse Prevention
Since the late 1970s, when computers were first introduced into classrooms, health educators and health-promotion scientists have attempted to harness this technology and its inherent appeal to youth for prevention purposes. Unfortunately, few of those efforts have been sustained to the point where efficacy can be shown through summative evaluation. While advances in the technology offer new frontiers for drug abuse prevention, few rigorous evaluations have been conducted. Those evaluations that have been conducted indicate, however, that there are some definite advantages and very few risks to using the technology. Because of its inherent appeal to youth, researchers and others developing drug prevention interventions should explore how their interventions might take advantage of the unique features that computer-based technologies offer. Researchers who have explored uses of technology need to be assertive in reporting the results of their studies. The prevention community needs to be attentive to the lessons that can be learned from less than perfect evaluation designs.
The past decade has seen tremendous advances in computer technology, allowing for more powerful prevention interventions. Prevention researchers have explored innovative uses of the technology and have identified several exciting opportunities to reach media-savvy generations. Over the next decade, the challenge to program developers and evaluators will be to integrate these promising technologies into existing programs and to identify, through rigorous evaluation, appropriate and effective applications.
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