Can emojis encourage children to make healthy eating choices?
Last year we saw individuals of all ages brighten up their text messages with emojis. The use was so widespread and frequent that the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year was, for the first time ever, one of the popular pictographs. The ‘Face with Tears of Joy’ emoji was decided as the ‘word’ that best described and reflected 2015.
With children of all ages using the famous pictographs, often replacing as opposed to going alongside text, it wasn’t going to be long until researchers were going to test their use in various instances to communicate messages with this age group…
The Center for Behavioral Health Research and Wellness (CBHW) in the USA have recently tested emoji use on food shelves to see if they can encourage children to make healthy food choices. With nearly 1 in 3 US children considered overweight, this is the most recent method tested that aims to decrease child obesity.
Before this research was designed it was established that many of the campaigns to encourage healthy food choices have been aimed at parents, but why haven’t children been considered more when it comes to finding a solution?
Therefore CBHW decided it was time to try a means of communicating these messages to children, and what better way to do it than in a language they fully understand – emotion i.e. the emoji. In the study children from kindergarten through to sixth grade were asked to go shopping; choosing 4 items out of 12 in an isle that replicated that of a supermarket, and then choosing another 4 items in an isle exactly the same as the previous but below each product was an emoji (“emolabels”). Smiley faces were shown for healthy choices and frowning ones for unhealthy. Results found that when emojis were used, 83% of kids switched at least one of their foods to a healthy one.
Read more on the research here…
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