The XRPeds research group at Yale University has created a virtual reality (VR) game called “ReHashed” to fight against the growing problem of youth vaping marijuana. This immersive game is designed to teach and prevent middle school students from engaging in this risky behavior. Thanks to funding from Connecticut State Senator James Maroney, “ReHashed” will be introduced in three schools across Connecticut in 2024.

Recognizing the potential of virtual reality as an effective prevention tool, XRPeds has designed the game’s language and situations based on valuable input from educators and students. This approach ensures a realistic and relatable experience for players.

“ReHashed” follows the story of a middle school student who wants to be invited to a special party. Throughout the game, the main character faces challenges and peer pressure to vape marijuana. The interactive format of the game allows players to make choices that lead to preventing marijuana vaping. Each path in the game highlights the negative consequences and dangers of vaping marijuana, empowering students to make informed decisions.

The inspiration for “ReHashed” comes from XRPeds’ success in addressing nicotine addiction with their previous game, “Invite Only VR.” Recognizing the increasing prevalence and health risks of marijuana vaping, the team decided to focus on this important issue. Recent data shows that in 2022, 21% of 12th graders reported vaping marijuana in the past year, a significant increase from 9.5% in 2017. Urgency to combat this concerning trend drives XRPeds to reach students who have not yet been exposed to marijuana vaping.

The development and implementation of “ReHashed” have been made possible through funding from the Connecticut Department of Public Health, which allocated resources from the state’s portion of the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act. This investment shows the importance placed on addressing pediatric health challenges and prioritizing the well-being of Connecticut’s youth.

To ensure the game’s effectiveness, XRPeds plans to integrate “ReHashed” into health classes in three different southern Connecticut schools in 2024. By incorporating the game into the curriculum, students will have the opportunity to engage with the immersive VR experience and gain valuable knowledge about the dangers of marijuana vaping. The goal is to equip them with the necessary tools to make informed decisions and resist peer pressure.

The relatable middle school character in “ReHashed” provides a compelling story that resonates with players. By immersing themselves in the character’s journey, students can better understand the consequences and risks of marijuana vaping. The realistic situations in the game have been carefully designed to reflect real-life scenarios, ensuring a meaningful impact on the players’ behavior and choices.

XRPeds’ VR-based youth marijuana vaping prevention program is a significant milestone in addressing this important issue. By using cutting-edge technology and engaging storytelling, the research group aims to make a lasting impact on the lives of adolescents across Connecticut and possibly inspire similar initiatives in other regions.

In conclusion, the creation of “ReHashed” by the Yale research group XRPeds is a groundbreaking step towards preventing youth marijuana vaping. By combining the immersive power of virtual reality with relatable storytelling, this innovative game aims to educate and empower middle school students to make informed decisions and resist the pressures of marijuana vaping. With funding secured and plans to implement the game in three Connecticut schools by 2024, XRPeds is leading the way in addressing this concerning trend and safeguarding the well-being of our youth. Through their pioneering efforts, XRPeds sets a new standard for using technology to tackle critical health challenges among adolescents.