Getting through puberty by playing with the app Natheef/a
How can improving your daily hygiene be fun? The video game Natheef/a was launched in 2016 in Gaza by Terre des hommes (Tdh) and aims to teach children aged between six and twelve using a game to show them simple steps to keep them in good health. A new version of Natheef/a has just been released which now takes a playful look at the how the body changes during puberty, in particular when young girls start having their period.
Wash your hands and brush your teeth regularly, trim your nails or live in a clean and tidy environment: these habits are vital for the young children and teenagers to maintain good personal hygiene and avoid dangerous behaviour which may put their health and psychosocial development at risk.
Natheef – or natheefa in the feminine form – means clean in Arabic. The game with the same name -launched by Tdh online in 2016 – enables children to adopt good personal hygiene habits. Available in both English and Arabic, users are asked to solve little explanatory challenges which enable them to understand the importance of such habits and how to perform them correctly. The project was developed in Gaza and has been shown in schools and at the child protection centre during information and awareness raising sessions. The game can be downloaded for free.
Society in both Gaza and the West Bank is still conservative and there is a certain taboo to the questions teenagers ask about puberty and sexuality and to which neither their schools nor their parents provide an answer. Young girls do not receive any education about menstruation, sexuality, reproduction etc. and this lack of information poses a potential threat to them as they are exposed to the risks of premature pregnancies and marriage at a young age.
An app for teenagers
Co-founded by UNICEF and supported by the Palestine Ministry of Education and Higher Education as well as our local partner Lahiya Development Association, the application enhances the first version of Natheef/a and offers advice for teenage girls. Menstrual cycle, risks during pregnancy or the physical and psychological changes linked to growing up are factors which make puberty a transformational period which is as confusing as it is crucial for teenage girls and boys who, in certain parts of the world, are rarely given adequate assistance. The Natheef/a app provides an open door to subjects which are still considered taboo. Using an interactive mobile app to deal with puberty makes it possible to reach out to teenagers directly. Feedback from teenagers who have tested the app confirm that it is indeed a good way of sharing information.
A fun approach
This new application aims to provide young people with the possibility of learning whilst having fun using an avatar whose gender they can choose. They then get to choose a part of their avatar’s body and a small game begins. Medical explanations for acne, hair growth and hygiene advice of all kind are then provided in an interactive way. Natheef/a is a simple and accessible way to educate teenagers so that they are able to grow physically, psychologically and socially.