EKU professor helps develop app aimed at teaching kids empathy

Eastern Kentucky University psychology professor Dr. Matthew Winslow

RICHMOND, Ky. (WKYT) - A professor at Eastern Kentucky University has helped to develop an app for children and teens to teach them to be more empathetic.

EKU psychology professor Dr. Matthew Winslow was a part of the team that created the app, called "Random APP of Kindness" (RAKi).

Dr. Winslow helped develop the app, along with social science researchers Brad Bushman of Ohio State University and Rich Tolman of the University of Michigan.

The team of developers was led by Sara Konrath of Indiana University. She found that empathy in teens has been declining since 1979. She thinks the connection is between more and more people being more connected to their phones than anything else.

"Young people are heavy users of mobile phones, and our team realized that there is a major content gap in such devices," Konrath said. "There are very few smartphone games or apps that directly encourage kindness and caring for children..."

Dr. Winslow was involved with the theoretical basis for the app. He says he knew how important it was to have the app focus on children and teens.

"Kids in this age range don't yet have set-in-stone ideas about how empathy and compassion work, so showing them that they can improve can have lasting benefits," he said.

RAKi will have nine mini-games that aim to strengthen empathy in users. Research showed that kids aged 10-17 who played the game for two months were more empathetic than kids who played a "traditional" app game.

For more information, you can visit the official website for the app.

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