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Social express is a Social Skills app for children aged 8+, with a series of lessons, of increasing difficulty. Each lesson contains interactive tasks to help children understand the hidden rules of social and emotional situations.
What we think
The app has a strong theoretical underpinning. Some of the core concepts presented are based on the work of Michelle Garcia Winner and her Social Thinking® curriculum. More information can be found on the Social Thinking® website, www.socialthinking.com. Users are encouraged to learn more about Michelle’s work to gain the full benefit from the program.
The app is easy to use. Progression through the lessons is automatic. The app is designed to be used with an adult supporting the child. There are written prompts that flash on the screen to guide the adult’s response in each lesson. This creates the opportunity for child and adult to discuss the learning. The prompts can be turned off to give the option of the child using the app alone. The app can be purchased as a monthly or yearly subscription, so some monitoring of the subscription may be required.
The app targets a series of social goals including, of increasing complexity. The user can move to the 2nd level of lessons over time as their skills develop. Some of the goals targeted include: identifying feelings in others, how to read and interpret eye contact, learning about idioms, identifying coping strategies to deal with different emotions, identifying appropriate conversation topics and when conversation goes off topic.
There are no motivators for answering questions correctly other than verbal praise. No motivators are earned for progressing through the levels of the app. Some users have reported that their children were not motivated to play the app.
The user needs adequate Fine Motor skills to point to pictures on the screen. It is best practise to use the app with an adult who can talk through the lessons with the child.
The user can create a profile which will store their progression and allow them to resume with their last lesson even after an extended break from the app. Apart from the user profile there is no personalisation available.
Yes, the app focuses purely on Social Skills.
The app could be improved by adding motivators for correct answers and for progression through the lessons and levels. This would likely increase users desire to work through the lessons. In its current version parents may wish to add their own rewards to encourage their children to use the app.
I appreciate the strong evidence base and ease of use. I like the fact that the app is to be used with adult support as this enables further dialogue on each lesson, creating a strong learning experience for the child. The prompts provide a nice support for adults seeking direction in supporting their child.