The Phenutopia Study

The Phenutopia Study explores the attitudes and moral intuitions in young people, in the context of digital phenotyping for mental health in schools.

‘Digital phenotyping’ denotes the collection and analysis of digital data to indicate increased risk of adverse health outcomes, including mental health. Using geographical information, social media entries, test results, data on sleeping patterns etc., the risk of mental health challenges such as depression or anxiety could potentially be predicted and prevented early on. As young people spend much of their time in school, schools could potentially play a vital role in preventing declining mental health in their students. But is that the right thing to do? What do young people think about such initiatives?

Aiming at providing an immersive and engaging platform to improve data collection, the Phenutopia Study utilizes a free online game – uniquely developed for the Phenutopia Project – to capture young people’s views on ethical dilemmas presented by digital phenotyping in schools.

The game, titled ‘Tracing Tomorrow’, was co-developed with Preloaded, a London-based game studio, and youth engagement bureau Livity.

The game released on January 27th 2020, and upon closing the data collection phase on March 1st 2020 the game had engaged 18,931 players total, where the absolute majority belonged to the target group (16-18 year olds living in the UK).

The Wellcome Trust logo
The Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities logo