As part of the back to school season, I’m on the lookout for tech and tools to help families have a healthy and productive school year. When the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (FAAR) asked me to take a look at a new educational app designed to help kids ages 6-9 learn about the dangers of underage alcohol consumption, I knew it was a great match. It’s hard to know when and how to start talking to your kids about alcohol Grab the Goodies is meant to help you kick start the conversation and get kids thinking about making healthy choices.
Grab the Goodies, which his available for free for iOS and Android, is a two-part app. Kids play an arcade-style game where they have to tap on the items that are positive (fruit, trophies, sports equipment) and avoid those that are not (beer and wine bottles). As they progress, they are asked multiple choice and True/False questions about healthy habits. These might pertain to information about alcohol consumption, but also things like reading labels, exercise, food choices, etc. Kids often have several chances to get the answer right, but they get more points if they make no mistakes.
I had the chance to give my feedback directly to FAAR, so they know that I think Grab the Goodies has some challenges. It’s not always clear what is and is not healthy in the game, or why something is a poor choice. My seven-year old won’t understand why the bottles all have frowning faces and earn no points, although she may assume they are soda, which she knows isn’t a healthy drink. I also think the questions are advanced both in content and reading level for the intended age. Worse, there’s no explanation for the answers. Kids can keep guessing until they get it right, but they may never understand why a statement is true, or what it means. Even I found a couple of the questions confusing (see the image below) or even misleading. Despite all of this, I feel comfortable endorsing the app and, believe it or not, it’s not because it’s part of a blogging campaign. [Bear with me and read on!]
Alcohol responsibility is a serious issue. It’s something that we, as parents, need to be proactive about. And then we need to stay engaged as kids start to feel pressure from their friends, or even just curiosity on their own. Grab the Goodies isn’t the ideal app to hand to a 6-year old while you’re busy making dinner or doing laundry. But it is a good choice for sitting down, discussing, and even learning together. In fact, FAAR knows this, which is why when kids press the “Help” button, the app calls out, “Mom!” Talk with your kids. Ask them if they know what the objects are and why one might be healthy when the other is not. Make sure they understand the health questions and the vocabulary. Help them figure out the answers. It doesn’t matter if you get it “right” as long as your kids begin to grasp the concept of healthy choices. Jot down questions you have together or things you want to discuss more. Look up answers or justifications that you don’t know. Don’t be shy to admit that you don’t know everything, either. Use Grab the Goodies to launch your conversation, break the ice, and have some fun together.
FAAR understands that parents may not know how to start the conversation or what to say. Grab the Goodies is part of a greater campaign called Ask Listen Learn: Kids and Alcohol Don’t Mix. The site has information for kids, parents, and teachers on the dangers of underage drinking. You can also visit the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility for additional resources. You’ll find the free app, Grab the Goodies on iTunes and the Google Play Store.
And if you have tips for talking with kids about underage drinking, or want to share what has worked for you, I’d love to know!
Disclosure: I reviewed Grab the Goodies as part of a compensated campaign with the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility. All opinions are my own.