Proceedings of the International Conference on E-Health 2016. 2016, 34-44
This paper presents a qualitative study of deployment and use of a robot as a sick child’s avatar at school. Many children and youth suffer from a range of chronic illnesses that make them, often for long stretches of time, deprived of normal education and social life. The participants in our study are adolescents who have been diagnosed with, and suffered from, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS) for at least one year. They attend school typically between 1 – 3 hours per week, and the robot-avatar is intended as a way for them to extend the time spent in the classroom and to increase their social presence. The paper discusses tools made to help us understand these young people and their relation to technology (concerning their physical and mental condition) and their connectedness to others (friends, family, teachers and other relevant connections). Further, the paper reports on experiences with the use of robot-avatars by participants, their parents, and their schoolteachers.