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H@PPINESS GAME_Gamification of the virtuous interaction between parents and children.

Our idea is to supply a gamified global program, that tackles the problem of lack of qualitative interaction between parents and children, by a toolkit able to engage them with tailored educational interactive missions.

Photo of Happiness Team
10 17

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UPDATED ON 09/12/2014
Since we can't presume that all parents are able to connect to 3G network or wifi, the app for the H@ppy tablet can work both online and offline, without affecting the engagement level of the program.

ONLINE - The "connected" tablet allows parents to get part of a broader community (to share activities results or to enter a "family challenge" and compete against other families) directly @ their home.

OFFLINE - The offline tablet is anyway set to work correctly, based on an "adaptive" approach: as soon as the parents proceed with activities the tablet automatically redirect new activities to proceed with progress.
Online activities can be anyway selected and fulfilled at the H@ppiness centre, that will be provided with wifi connection.

Play during early childhood is necessary if humans are to reach their full potential, but it can improve also adults' skills of curiosity and creativity.

Play also offers an ideal opportunity for parents to engage fully with their children. Observation sessions have highlighted that in low income families, mainly for a lack of awareness, parents unlikely play with their children, but mostly control or supervise their activities. 

So, how might we incentivize the playful interaction between parents and their children in low income families?

The H@ppiness Game, which will last approximately for 1 year and half, will lead parents and their children along the early childwood thriving path, boosting their playful interaction.

For each community, according to social habits and geographical peculiarities, will be defined a volunteer Happiness Ambassador. The Happiness Ambassador can be a public representative, a member of the church or a teacher. He should be choosen for his “networking potential”, since he should have the highest number of contacts on the field. The ambassador is in charge of identifying lowest income families in his community and getting in touch with them. Families who become acquainted through word of mouth, if their profile is in line with the scope, can also run for the game.

To get part of the program, beside a low income level, families should have at least one child that is under 5 years old.

Each family selected will partecipate to a kick-off meeting. The meeting will be held in the Happiness Centre located in the community and it will be led by a team of experts (teachers, psychologists, doctors,...) to introduce the purpose, the scope, the educational benefits, the mechanism of the game and rewards.

All the families will be given an H@ppiness Kit that includes: a H@ppy tablet and handcraft materials (paper, pencils, play dough...). The tablet is developed and provided under the sponsorship of a corporation that produces toys and devices for childhood. It is taylor made for children in terms of design, ergonomy, interface, privacy and security management of the app. Since we can't presume that parents are able to read, the language of the app will be mainly figurative and will use mainly videos, images and icons to facilitate correct understanding.

At the first use, parents and children are asked firstly to create their avatars (similar for physical details and mood) and secondly to go through a briefly funny game, which actually collects personal informations that will help the digital app to define the profiles and automatically identify an optimized playing path.

At the first log in, parents will watch an animatic tutorial which explain with an easy iconography the overall benefits of the game and the areas of child's (and parents') brain that will be trained. The areas will be 5: creativity skills, cognitive and linguistic skills, motor skills, non verbal skills, social skills.The tutorial will explain also the mechanism of the game.

The game will be organized along three progressive levels: basic, intermediate and advanced.

Each level will last maximum 6 months and will train, with an increasing difficulty, all the 5 brain's areas through daily activities that parents and children should do together.

Infact, based on the initial profiles (and for the next log in, the daily progress) the parents will be proposed automatically a daily activity to do with their children. The activity can be:
  • Listening, learning and creating nursery rhyme (mealtime, sleeptime, playtime);
  • Small hand craft activities;
  • Drawing;
  • Creating fairy tales;
  • Playing theatre;
  • ...
At the beginning, the lenght of the daily activity will be approximately 15 minutes and, as far as they proceed in pratice, it can last up to 2 hours per day.

To remember the family to partecipate, the H@ppy tab will send automatically daily acustic push up notifications both through the device and the telephone/mobile phone (in case they have previously registered the telephone number).

At the end of each daily session, they have to do a test game or to post a picture of the result of the activity to check the status. The app will automatically count the points of each test game and keep record of the progress. The points will be used to define the family's level.

After the test game, they can share the results with the community and decide if starting and extra activity or not.

The more they play, the faster they are in completing the activities proposed, the more they can do extra activities and gain extra points.

The reward for passing the level will be the H@ppiness Box, which will include mainly food and basic tools for daily life (potteries, towels, etc).

This will lead every six months the families to the Happiness center, where they will meet up with experts and peers to share feedbacks on the game, on their progress and on the results. They will also receive suggestions about how to proceed and they will be given the H@ppiness box.

Reached the intermediate level, family will be proposed to take part to on-line challenges with other families. Thanks to the initial profile created, the app will automatically propose the same challenge to families with similar attitudes just to booster networking and socialization across the community.

At the end of the game, in each community involved there will be a winner, based on top scoring.

The reward of the final winner family will be the H@ppiness Day, which consists in the possibility to live together a day which the family cannot normally afford, as a day trip or to attend a drama in a theatre or a sport match...
How will the H@ppiness Game have impact on the families involved?
  • It will increase the awareness of parents about their impact on children future;
  • It will prompt parents and children to play together strenghtening their relationship;
  • It will inspire parents about activities to do with their children;
  • It will improve quality of time they will spend together;
  • It will help families with basic needs (short term reward);
  • It will stimulate families projection skills (final reward);
  • It will encourage parents into networking with other families.
Being parents is not a child’s play and we seriously want to make it a pleasure.

Who will benefit from this idea and where are they located?

Low income families everywhere in the world, preferably where is estabilished an official welfare organization.

How could you test this idea in a quick and low-cost way right now?

The key point we would like to test firstly is the appealing of the H@ppyness Game for the target: is the mechanism stronger enough to help parents to overcome the obstacles they usually find in interacting with their children? To test this point, we will involve a small group of low income families living in our community, getting in touch with them through the contacts we already gained during the discussions we did for the inspiration phase. We are going to assign to these families three daily challenges asking them to send us every day a proof (pictures or videos) of their activity. Once received, we will give them a feedback in the emoticon style. At the end of the three days, if they have done all the three activities, we will give them a reward (basic necessity products box). Before starting the 3 days game, we will simulate the kick off meeting where we will explain them the project, collect their phone numbers and give them the first box with handcraft materials they need for the first challenge. At the beginning of each of the 3 next days, we will send them via mobile phone an handmade video where 2 puppets will explain the objectives and the activity the target has to do.

What kind of help would you need to make your idea real?

Since we are taking into account the challenge to impact positively on low-income children education at global level, we are aware of the need to be part of a global network and to carefully understand which are the players, the partners, and the level of engagement and investment of each of them. We may work on creating a solid partnership between Amplify and our team – diving into the product functionalities, sections, contents – or we may think bigger and evaluate a collaboration between Amplify and the company we work for: Chicco. As a 50 year experienced global Brand focused on Baby Care, we know that involving Chicco in this project would add a huge value on the final result. At this stage of the project, our team did not activate any internal institutionalized work table, but we imagine that leveraging on a long-time experience in babies, on an international network of professionals, and on a dense network of sister companies and local partners, combined with Amplify experience , tools and means, would contribute at the success of this project. In terms of professionals, we will need to involve a pool of education experts, psychomotricien and  psychologists for the development of the tailored contents (cognitive skills, linguistic skills, motor skills, non verbal skills and social skills), as well as programmers and web designers for the interface usability. But, firstly, we need feedbacks from the IDEO community to build together the best solution possible!

Is this an idea that you or your organization would like to take forward?

  • Yes. I am ready and interested in testing this idea and making it real in my community.

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Join the conversation:

Photo of Ayman Hanafi

Dear Happiness Team. This is quite a difficult task. It's ideal to appoint an ambassador to guide the community in the right direction as there's quite a lot involved. Every success!

Photo of Maurizio Bricola

Hi Cecilia and All, sorry I was in a rush and did not have the time to read through your idea. @Cecilia I have updated my comment :) you can find my contact details on my profile too. Is the tablet device in this case really needed? I think it is possible to focus on the web/mobile platform and app and let parents access the H@ppiness platfrom through the device of their choice, even SMS interaction could be possible, that might lower investment costs. I see how this idea could benefit parents in low income community of developed countries like Italy. Do you have a country in mind to start with out the 28 prioritised in this challenge? These priority countries are: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burma, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, Occupied Palestinian Territories, Pakistan, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, South Sudan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Uganda, Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. I see how your idea could work in some of the main cities in countries like Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, South Africa for example.
I'll hear from you.
Best of luck!

Photo of Cecilia Menarini

Ciao Maurizio!

Thanks for your comment - either here and on your project page.
Your request of information is welcome and let us dive into the project and explain better the rationale behind some of our choices.

In our mind, the device is a crucial pivot for the project, even if it is not sufficient in itself: its role is to mentor, tutor, stimulate, track and boost an interaction able to engage continuously children and parents interaction.

If a tech device has an understandable potential for cognitive interaction, logic training, and language skills improvement, we don't want to substitute pure manual and social activities, that not necessarily need technology to be explored and fostered. The necessity of growing by playing, in fact, passes for children through the awareness of themselves and of what surrounds them, discovered through all senses (included tactile, olfactory, and even gustatory). For this reason we decided to integrate the tab with additional tools that will enable the child to discover and experiment all primary senses with the same intensity and priority.

We imagine the tablet as a device that proposes a more flexible solution (if compared to instant messages or similar) for the following reasons:
1. it does not imply an internet connection: games can be of course played offline
2. it does not need a phone subscription and is 100% free
3. it offers a tailored all-in-one global solution

For what concerns our priority, we are focused on India, as either a BRIC fast growing country and as a region with a huge target that could benefit of this project/product. We have direct contacts for our job here, and may also take advantage of some of our professional connections to identify our pilot community.

As a consideration overall, there are still so many variables not defined, that we are prepared to adjust our perspectives flexibly according to the final target, the partners and the players involved.

Thanks for your stimuli,
let's stay in touch!

Photo of Simone D'Uffizi

Great project!
I like the plan, it can develop the community network while fostering the skills of the children.
The only thing I would improve is the H@appiness Box: I think it should contain something considered as a reward by the child too, not only by the family. Maybe something like candies or toys.
I think that a lot of communities can make use of an initiative like this one. I cross my fingers to see it in action. Good Luck!

Photo of Divya Hirani

I like the idea of the reward system, but who will provide the the toys or candies? will this increase the kit size? Could you join up with a charity that sends second hand toys, which have been donated to them?

Photo of Cecilia Menarini

Hi all!

It is a pleasure to follow your discussion on this topic. To be honest, the brainstorming and the refinement of what to put inside the box, took us a long time: we wanted to be realistic on one hand (proposing feasible solutions), but also to reach a good level of engagement for both children and parents.

This is why we foresee to put some toys as well, but always related to educational purposes. The good point of toys is that if the child is supported in their use, he can learn while playing and training different skills without even being conscious of that.

The happiness tablet is a sort of console, but the whole project is around the interaction between parents and children and their education while playing. For this reason, imagining that our target does not probably have any kind of additional tool to play and practice, we should provide them a basic set of toys like toy building bricks, play dough, and paper. According to the level reached, in the meet ups the experts may give the additional toys for the advanced activities.

Thanks for your encouragement and for keeping your finger crossed!
We'll keep you posted and really hope to be able to continue with this project.


Photo of Divya Hirani

Great Idea!
Love how everything is displayed so clearly and is so easy to understand.

Is there just the level process that will tell hem how well they are doing or can this be presented to them in other visual ways?

Photo of Cecilia Menarini

Hi Divya,
thanks for your feedback!

We are currently foreseeing parallel paths for the progresses supervision:
1) one is delivered by the device and the progresses that the tech tool takes over; this is what allows children and parents to pass to the next levels;
2) one is detected by the 'game center' that has a database with all the progresses of its users and may know live the improvement status or the difficulties of children;
3) the last check takes place in the meet ups with experts, planned on a regular base.

For what concerns steps 1 and 2, we imagine that the mascot of the game talks and interacts with children and families, giving them tips according to the progress stages.
For what concerns step 3, we imagine that families can receive tailored mentorship advices directly from experts.

What do you think about these options? Any advice will be welcome.


Photo of Bernhard Eiser

@ Happiness Team,

Great amount of research, I really like the depth of your idea.
We have developed a physical game, that focuses on the particular aspect of creating fairy tales.

It would be great to get your feedback on 'Story Stones" since you have all the experience in this field.

If you like our idea maybe we could even collaborate, eventually implementing a digital version of our stones that fits inside your concept.

Looking forward hearing from you.

Photo of Happiness Team

Thanks Bernhard!
Why not collaborating?
It would be great if we could pick the single activities we will propose inside the H@ppiness Game among the hundreds of ideas uploaded here on Openideo!
We are open to any kind of play activity we could integrate in our platform that is able to work on even only one of the 5 skills areas we proposed.
Your idea could be in the creativity area or in the cognitive one.
Moreover we think that the structure of the H@ppiness Game, so a video which explains how to play, the playtime and then the check moment, can lead parents to unlock their creativity in a more easy and relaxed way.