Can kids learn empathy on an iPad?
This is the somewhat unfair but inevitable question surrounding this week’s release of a new tablet game called IF. Designed for 6 to 12 year olds, IF aims to help children manage their emotions, cope with stress and conflict, even deal with bullies. It comes with big expectations because it’s made by a new company, If You Can, started by Trip Hawkins, a gaming giant who is also the founder of Electronic Arts, the makers of FIFA 14 and other sports games loved by kids (and maybe by you, too).
In other words, this is a relatively rare moment in which Silicon Valley is lending its money and cachet to programming that’s about emotional development – what’s increasingly called social and emotional learning, or SEL. Hawkins has raised $US6.5 million for this new startup and gotten advice from SEL experts around the country.
– Emily Bazelon