Can Apps Help Us Raise Empathetic Children?
We mentioned in one of our recent articles that apps can help kids develop their social skills. But how can something digital affect our real relationships? One of the key abilities that children’s publishing and media can tap into is empathy. Children learn to identify the situation of others, putting themselves ‘in another’s shoes’, at varying ages. But with our dot to dot drawing app, Artie’s Magic Pencil, we hope to boost that ability. Here’s how…
In Artie’s Magic Pencil, one of the first things that children do is help Artie rebuild his house after a mischievous monster has knocked it down. Artie jumps for joy after being helped, and sets out on a mission to help others too. While playing, it might be useful to talk through what your child is doing. Encourage them for helping, and point out the beneficial effect that helping Artie has – he goes on to help other people, and eventually the whole town is happier. Being able to recognise when something is broken or in need of care is innate in children – in this article the writer recalls how her daughter instantly recognised the sorry state of an old teddy bear, and wanted to fix it. Reading books and playing games on this theme will only help boost that innate desire to help those in need.
Another way that children’s media can contribute to a child’s empathetic development is through the clear display of emotions. Have you ever noticed that children’s characters usually have disproportionately large eyes? The result is very clear emotions that even younger children will be able to recognise. When Artie meets someone in need, their body language tends to look ‘sad’ – they’re slumped over, their eyes are drooping, and their mouths are downturned. Ask your child what emotion the character must be feeling, and what Artie might be able to do to help.
After helping other characters out, their body language changes to suggest happiness and gratitude – an upright body, a big smile, and even a dance in many cases! The animated behaviour should help your child to recognise that through understanding others’ needs and helping them, they have made a new friend.
We hope you enjoy playing Artie’s Magic Pencil with your child. If they’ve loved it, we’d love to hear from you! Feel free to email us at [email protected], or find us @minilabstudios on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.