Proposed Communication Strategy
Why?: Body Talk for Kids
Human-Centered Design (HCD) principles were applied to the discovery process of this project, including interviews with users and topic experts, journey mapping, and walk-a-mile exercises. Experiences and feelings associated with puberty, regardless of gender, were identified to find primary research on what children are feeling and where they seek answers during puberty. Searching for answers to questions related to any of these identified topics using internet search engines resulted in no inquires returning content written for children as the top result. Through additional searching and guidance from public health professionals, the best resources for puberty education written for children lived through videos on youtube.
The goal of this research mode was to discover what content children are accessing and what they are hoping to find there. Analyzing the comments left on top-performing puberty and sex education youtube videos reveals that children are incredibly open about changes in their bodies, insecurities, and questions about their physical health they do not feel comfortable telling their parents. These comments show a level of vulnerability and reveal that children actively seek answers about their puberty woes enough to ask strangers, confirming that a trusted resource around these topics is needed.
This project aims to be a trusted resource for both children and their guardian's for comprehensive sex and puberty education by developing a fun passive way to learn about bodies in the form of a tabletop game that leads into more private, comprehensive resources that replicate a peer education program within a digital resource that meets children where they are and mimics the user interfaces of the apps they spend time in.
Puberty and sex education can be uncomfortable and challenging to discuss. This project aims to create trusted comprehensive puberty and sex education resources that meet the country's youth where they are, use their own language, and include them in the conversation. It takes the form of a two-pronged system comprised of in-person, enjoyable interactives, and private digital resources. The interactives act as a fun way to build trust in the system and bridge to private digital resources that dive deeper into more nuanced, inclusive, and personal subjects to break down stigmas surrounding the experiences associated with puberty and create a more open, empathetic puberty experience.
"Why?: Body Talk for Kids" is a two-pronged comprehensive sex and puberty education system. "Why?: Body Talk for Kids" includes a physical game that acts as a gateway to more comprehensive information in a private digital setting. It is a trusted, inclusive, interactive platform that delivers information in the tone of an older sibling or mentor and meets children where they are, and includes them in the conversation around their bodies.
"Why?: Body Talk for Kids" is centered around the visual language of emoji, something kids already use to describe these feelings. In the interactive physical game, players compete to collect the most "puberty pogs," pieces that use a custom emoji system to represent feelings and physical changes associated with puberty experiences, by creating matches in "puberty experience cards" and "body parts cards." The point of this game is not to be correct necessarily - but to create interesting combinations of experiences that the round's judges can vote on - allowing the player with the winning combination to win "pogs."
Once the "Puberty Pogs," are collected, players insert them into "Puberty Pal" to create a new puberty experience in every game. As "Puberty Pal" fills up with its own experiences, players can either refer to the glossary that comes with the game to look up what these changes mean and why they happen, or they can use the corresponding app to take a picture using the AR filter and see that puberty experience "come to life."
This game format allows for the possibility of expansion packs for specific audiences. A parent's pack might include fun or silly combinations of "Puberty Pogs" about more top-level topics like foot odor and dandruff to act as conversation starters and lead a child to the more private digital resources in the "Why?: Body Talk for Kids" system. A sex education teacher's pack might include more in-depth, comprehensive "Puberty Pog" topics to use in their classrooms as they play this game with students.
Comprehensive Sex Education Tools that Kids Want to Use
This capstone project was completed in the MS in Health Communication Design program at Thomas Jefferson University.
Human-Centered Design Process
Stakeholders Map Development
Why?: Body Talk for Kids
The physical interactive game acts as a bridge to move private, comprehensive digital resources children can explore. Once in the app, players can zoom in on emojis representing puberty experiences and explore the experiences they made on "Puberty Pal" or can build their own experience by dragging emojis to body parts. The custom emoji system is color-coded, purple represents feelings associated with puberty, and teal is physical body change.
Peer-to-Peer education is proven to work in this space. Children have an easier time relating to someone closer to their age when discussing sex education and puberty. The private digital resources feature a group of peer ambassadors called "Why's Guides" that share stories and information about their experiences around puberty and sex education. The app takes on a familiar social media form, with users able to click through content and learn in a way that's intuitive to pre-pubescent and pubescent children. Children would be able to choose the "Why's Guides" they feel closest to, either in the way they look, their body type, sexual orientation, and gender. Those guides would be front-loaded when they are exploring the app. Still, other guides' content is included to make sure they are getting a complete understanding of different experiences to create an empathetic puberty experience. This image features an example of a "Why's Guide" story about body hair. In every section, there would be the opportunity for kids to contribute to the conversation and submit thoughts and questions; this also allows the app to stay relevant as times change.