Childline uses smilies to get kids talking about their feelings

230 how u feelin.jpg
We wrote a couple of days ago about a mood app that plots feelings on maps (Glow by Heckcopter) and this web game from Childline is a very similar thing. Except that it doesn’t just record your mood out of general interest – it tries to change or improve it. Aimed at kids, the “how u feelin” game, on Childline here, uses smilies as simple shorthand for feelings and is aimed at making expressing emotions a bit easier. Once those emotions have been expressed then it’s easier for Childline to offer the appropriate advice.

You could say smilies are a bit simplistic or patronising for explaining this kind of thing – but I think it’s a fair enough way of reaching people. Simple doesn’t always equal simplistic and as a easy-to-use diagnostic tool, it works well. Plus given that I use them all the time to express my emotions, I could hardly complain about it.

Most like the Glow Mood Map is the Moodi Maker which lets you make a customised smiley expressing a certain emotion, it stores and lets you see what everyone else on Childline is feeling that day – today 33% are happy, 11% are depressed, 10% are excited, 3% are amused, 1% are embarrassed.

That’s not just interesting, that’s also a pretty useful gauge of what services users might need and whether things improve or worsen over time. It also gives a sense of community and support – you’re not the only one with problems.

How computers can be used to improve the mood and attitude of their users is pretty interesting, this is just a simple example but there are more complex and commerical ones out there: the Samsung Wave concept products for example. These respond to emotion in your voice or gestures and try and work out what services to provide you in order to match your mood.

CES 2010: ASUS’s Waveface concept computers know how you’re feeling and Glow mood map iPhone app shows what cities are happy…

Anna Leach