Ongoing & recent projects

Finished projects

Unlocking the Potential of mHealth Technologies to Promote Behavioral Health and Active Aging in Czech Older Adults

Project Period: 11/2016 – 9/2019
Investor: Jihomoravský kraj
Project Type: SoMoPro
Principal Investigator: Steriani Elavsky, Ph.D.

There are over 3,8 mil individuals aged 50 years and older living in the Czech Republic and those aged 65 years and older make up 16% of the Czech population, numbers that are projected to grow exponentially. Although Czech older adults are living longer than ever before, they do not live healthy lives. The prevalence of chronic conditions, functional limitations and disability increases with age, with adverse consequences for overall health and quality of life (QOL). Lifestyle is a key determinant of health and QOL as we age, but only a small proportion of the Czech seniors live a healthy lifestyle characterized by sufficient amount of physical activity, low levels of sedentary behavior, and good quality/sufficient sleep. Although effective intervention strategies exist to improve these behavioral indicators in older adults, traditional intervention (face-to-face) approaches require substantial resources and have limited public health impact. Advances in digital technology have opened up opportunities for scalable solutions with potentially greater reach, however, the feasibility of technology-mediated approaches to monitor and enhance health of Czech seniors has not been established and lacks in systematic research. This proposal addresses the above-mentioned challenges by (1) developing an interdisciplinary line of research in the area of mobile health (mHealth) technologies for improving behavioral health and active aging in the Czech Republic; and (2) pilot testing novel methods for behavioral and psychological monitoring in older adults through the application of Dynamic Real-Time Ecological Ambulatory Methodologies (DREAM). Mixed methods (literature and empirical analyses via cross-sectional surveys and research focus groups) will be used to establish feasibility, utility, and acceptability of mHealth approaches to monitor and enhance behavioral health in older adults and DREAM methods will be deployed to pilot test smartphone-based survey tool for older adults.

Researchers: Martina Šmahelová, Lenka Knapová

THINLINE project – The thin line between disorder and a healthy lifestyle: Investigating the online behavior of today’s youth

Project Period: 2015 – 2018
Investor: Czech Science Foundation
Project Type: Standard Project

Pro-ana (promoting anorexia nervosa) and pro-mia (promoting bulimia nervosa) online communities, websites, and apps are becoming a public health concern, as young people use the Internet and other ICTs for body change strategies. An understanding of this possibly risky online behavior is being increasingly needed. The proposed project studies health-related online behavior and ICT use among young people (aged 13-28), with a focus on weight control, body image, and eating disorders.

The study will be based mainly on qualitative interviews with young people with eating disorders and their professional caregivers, and a quantitative study based on online survey data from at least 1000 respondents. The study aims to map the online behavior and ICT use of young people suffering from eating disorder to assess professional care providers’ knowledge of and reflections on the online behavior and ICT use of their clients/patients, and to map the differences between youth at risk for an eating disorder and those who instead enjoy a healthy lifestyle.

Researchers: Hana Macháčková, Martina Šmahelová, David Šmahel, Carlos A. Almenara, Steriani Elavsky, Jana Holubčíková, Lenka Dedkova, Natália Valkovičová, Eliška Nehybková

ORION - Open Responsible research and Innovation to further Outstanding kNowledge

We are co-operating with our colleagues from CEITEC research institute on the ORION project, which aims to induce evidence-based institutional and cultural changes within the research community, including scientists, funders and other key stakeholders. Our long term vision is to embed Open Science and Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) principles (ethics, gender, governance, open access, public engagement, and science education) in Research Funding and Performing Organisations (RFPOs).

This will be achieved by initially carrying out an assessment exercise on Open Science awareness and practice in RFPOs and organising an open consultation among targeted stakeholders. We will then co-design and perform “co-creation experiments” with the different RRI actors.
Our experiments will tackle three specific challenges of Open Science:
1. Opening up the research engine
2. Identifying risks and opportunities presented by disruptive technologies
3. Running citizen science (CS) in fundamental research

Researchers: Hana Macháčková

CATCH-EyoU - Constructing Active Citizenship with European Youth: Policies, practices, challenges and solutions

Project Period: 9/2015 - 8/2018
Investor: European Union

This project will investigate young people’s views on the EU and their social and political engagement as “active EU citizens”. We focus on “active EU citizenship” as a guiding concept, which we conceptualize, differently than previous approaches (cf. Hoskins, 2006; Hoskins & Mascherini, 2009) as including both “psychological” citizenship (composed of dimensions such as EU identity, sense of belonging and trust in the EU, among the others) and participatory practices in formal and informal contexts at different levels (EU, national, regional, local) through which citizenship is enacted.

Researchers: Jakub Macek, Alena Macková, Jan Šerek

New behavioral addictions: Games and sexuality online

Project Period: 2015 – 2018
Investor: Czech Science Foundation
Project Type: Standard Project

The project focuses on behavioral addictions related to online gaming and internet use for sexual purposes, which are among the most risky online activities in terms of developing pathological internet use and which the American Psychiatric Association has considered for inclusion in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The project aims to investigate their etiology, whether and in what way they meet the criteria for addictive behaviors. An analysis of longitudinal data on online gaming, interviews with individuals who suffer from out-of control online gaming and use of the internet for sexual purposes, and an online survey on the same topic will be carried out.

Research findings will expand current knowledge of symptoms of pathological online gaming and use of the internet for sexual purposes as well as specify potential diagnostic criteria needed for their inclusion in diagnostic manuals (DSM or International Classification of Diseases).

Researchers: Anna Ševčíková, Hana Macháčková

The experimental research on online behavior of ICT users, using the perspectives of social sciences, law and informatics

Project Period: 4/2014 – 12/2016
Investor: Masaryk University
Project Type: interdisciplinary project

The project focuses at ICT user’s behavior regarding IT safety. The research plan includes experimentally exposing ICT users to different ways of ensuring IT security (technical ways, trainings, information on the new legislation norm, directives). The exposition will be followed by observation of changes in user’s ICT use, as influenced by the experimental exposure.

Researchers: David Šmahel, Lenka Dědková, Hana Macháčková

New and old media in everyday life: Media audiences at the time of transforming media uses

Project Period: 2/2013 – 12/2015
Investor: Czech Science Foundation
Project Type: Postdoc Projects

The research project deals with ongoing changes in media uses in the context of everyday life. It aims to map and understand the ways in which domestic uses of new media impact on everyday practices and affect the temporal, spatial and relational structures of the respondents’ everyday lives. In this respect, the project builds on the tradition of research into television and the home and research on the domestication of new media and it aims to paint a more complex picture of the ongoing transformation of domestic media-related practices. The research will employ an inductive-deductive two-step research design with two distinctive (qualitative and quantitative) phases. The opening qualitative phase will employ an audience ethnography, the consequent quantitative phase a representative survey. Research findings will be published in peer-reviewed journals and in the form of a monograph.

Researcher: Jakub Macek

VITOVIN - Forming interdisciplinary research team focused on internet and new media

Official project name: Vytvoření interdisciplinárního týmu v oblasti výzkumu internetu a nových médií (VITOVIN)
Project period: 7/2012 - 6/2015
Investor: Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the CR
Programe: Operational Programme Education for Competitiveness
Project type: 2.3 Human resources in research and development
Project identification: CZ.1.07/2.3.00/20.0184 (CEP code: EE2.3.20.0184)

The aim of this project is to form a high-quality interdisciplinary team focused on social scientific research of internet and new media. The team will include two researchers from abroad. The team will actively take part in realization of international research - specifically in the EU Kids Online III (, an approved project supported from the Safer Internet (2011-2014) programe. The main goals of this project are to form a team focused on researching new media, bolster its excellence, connect with international research networks and provide further education for academics and PhD students. The outcome of this project are well-trained researchers - their training will increase their scientific potential. The team will produce reviewed publications as well as publications aimed at popularizing scientific results in the Czech Republic and Brno region. Furthermore, an international conference and workshops for academics and PhD students will be organized.

Project description in Czech on the web of Masaryk University.

Net Children Go Mobile

Project Period: 2012 – 2014
Investor: European union
Project Type: safer internet programme

The Net Children Go Mobile project (2012-2014), co-funded by the Safer Internet Programme, aims to investigate through quantitative and qualitative methods how the changing conditions of internet access and use – namely, mobile internet and mobile-convergent media – bring greater, fewer or newer risks to children’s online safety. Participating countries include Denmark, Italy, Romania, the UK, Belgium, Ireland and Portugal, the latter three joining the project on a self-funded basis. Drawing on the experience of network members within the EU Kids Online network, the conceptual framework of the project is operationalised in a child-centred, critical, contextual and comparative approach, which understands children’s online experiences as contextualised and shaped by three intersecting circles: 1) childhood, family life and peer cultures; 2) media systems and technological development; and 3) the European social and policy context.

Researchers: Monica Barbovschi, Kjartan Ólafsson

Revealing Factors of Excessive Online Gaming and its Development over Time

Project Period: 01/2012 – 12/2014

The project focuses on the examination of excessive online gaming. Several goals are proposed:

  1. Tracing factors of players (psychical and psychosocial motives) and game specifics (design factors) which support excessive gaming;
  2. Following the development of excessive gaming in a time period of one year;
  3. Investigating possible developmental predictors for excessive gaming;
  4. Methodological aspects of longitudinal online research. The proposed goals will be reached via a combination of several methods.

The analysis and performance of 50 qualitative interviews with Czech players will be used as a starting point for the project. The data from these will be used in the preparation of a questionnaire for the next stage of the research. A survey will then be carried out on 1500-2000 players in the Czech Republic. The survey will be longitudinal, with three waves of data collection taking place. Data will be collected using an online tool.

Researchers: David Šmahel

EU Kids Online III

Web: available here
Project Period: 09/2011 – 08/2014
Investor: European Union
Project Type: Other grant projects excluding research and development

EU Kids Online III is following the work of EU Kids Online I and II. In its first phase (2006-9), as a thematic network of 21 countries, EU Kids Online identified and critically evaluated the findings of nearly 400 research studies, drawing substantive, methodological and policy-relevant conclusions. In its second phase (2009-11), as a knowledge enhancement project across 25 countries, the network is surveying children and parents to produce original, rigorous data on their internet use, risk experiences and safety mediation. In the proposed project, the successful track record of the EU Kids Online network will be built on and extended to provide both a proactive and a responsive resource to support the work of diverse researchers and stakeholders across Europe, strengthening the evidence base and informing policy developments initiated by the EC Safer Internet Programme and others.

In its third phase (2011-14), the EU Kids Online network will provide a focal point for timely findings and critical analyses of new media uses and associated risks among children across Europe, drawing on these to sustain an active dialogue with stakeholders about priority areas of concern for child online safety.

Specifically, the network will widen its work by including all member states, by undertaking international comparisons with selected findings from countries outside the EC, and extending its engagement – both proactively and responsively – with policy stakeholders and internet safety initiatives.

It will deepen its work through new and targeted hypothesis testing of the pan-European dataset, focused on strengthening insights into both the risk environment and strategies of safety mediation, by pilot testing new and innovative research methodologies for the nature, meaning and consequences of children’s online risk experiences, and conducting longitudinal comparisons of findings where available over time (e.g. from SAFT, Staksrud 2005 and since).

Last, it will update its work through a rolling programme to maintain the online database of available findings, and by producing timely updates on the latest knowledge about new and emerging issues (for example, social networking, mobile platforms, privacy, personal data protection, safety and awarenessraising practices in schools, digital literacy and citizenship, geo-location services, and so forth).

Researchers: David Šmahel, Hana Macháčková, Martina Šmahelová, Monica Barbovschi

Risks of Internet Use for Children and Adolescents

Project Period: 1/2011 – 12/2013
Investor: Czech Science Foundation
Project Type: Standard Projects
Keywords: risks; adolescents; cyberbullying; pornography; community; Internet

The project focuses on an interdisciplinary examination of risks arising on the Internet, their psychosocial context, and impact on children and adolescents aged between 10 and 17 years. We will study the relationship between children and adolescents’ development and the following risks: exposure to sexual content and sexual contacts; (2) potential risk communities; (3) online harassment and cyberbullying. The project will co-operate with the international project EU Kids Online II, developing on this project using qualitative research and longitudinal study, with three waves of data collection. The outcomes of this project will include a complex monograph describing the risks of the Internet for children and adolescents, and recommendations for institutions influencing prevention and executive measures.

Researchers: Anna Ševčíková, Hana Macháčková, David Šmahel, Lenka Dědková

Coping Strategies with Cyberbullying among Adolescents (COST)

Project Period: 3/2011 – 9/2012
Investor: Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the CR
Project Type: COST CZ

The project based on the running COST action entitled “Cyberbullying: Coping with Negative and Enhancing Positive Uses of New Technologies in Relationships in Educational Settings” is about coping strategies with cyberbullying among Czech adolescent victims. The research study focuses on specifics of coping strategies used by Czech adolescent victims of cyberbullying, factors moderating the choice of a coping strategy and finally on their effectiveness – which strategy seems to be useful and which, contrary, are non-effective.
Report (in Czech)

Researchers: Anna Ševčíková, Hana Macháčková, Lenka Dědková, David Šmahel

EU Kids Online II

Project Period: 7/2009 – 8/2011
Investor: European Union
Project Type: Other grant projects excluding research and development

EU Kids Online II will conduct original empirical research across member states with national samples of children aged 9-16 years old and their parents. The aim is to produce a rigorous, cross-nationally comparative quantitative evidence base regarding internet use across Europe. Co-ordinated Professor Sonia Livingstone and Dr Leslie Haddon of the London School of Economics and Political Science, the project team includes a multinational management group, an international advisory panel, and research teams in over 20 participating countries across Europe.

Researchers: David Šmahel, Lukas Blinka, Anna Ševčíková, Hana Macháčková, Alena Černá, Lenka Dědková

Weblog: A Window into Adolescent’s Soul

Project Period: 1/2007 – 12/2009
Investor: Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
Project Type / Programme: The research grant projects for juniors
Field: Psychology (Social sciences)
Keywords: adolescent, Internet, blog, identity

Weblogs (blogs) are web pages containing entries written in the chronological sequence, which are typically publicly accessible diaries on the Internet. The subject matter of the submitted research is thRe Czech adolescents’ personal weblogs which we perceive as a unique opportunity to study adolescents’ life. We ask who writes the weblogs, how adolescents deal with their developmental tasks in blogs, what motivates them to write it, what their daily problems or joys are etc. We also intend to identify the differences in which Czech and American adolescents express themselves on their weblogs, which provides the research with an international dimension. Another research objective is methodological: we plan to verify the sample data collected on the Internet and to develop tools for verifying data in the Internet questionnaire. Three independent methods are used in order to satisfy the research goals: content analysis, qualitative interviews and a web survey.

Researchers: David Šmahel, Lukas Blinka, Hana Macháčková, Alena Černá

World Internet Project – The Czech Republic

Project Period: 7/2005 – 12/2008
Investor: Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the CR