We live in a connected world, where everyday we are exposed to works of media, entertainment and other forms of popular culture, which play a significant role in shaping our perception of others. Children consume popular culture everyday from watching cartoons to playing with their toys, being one of the main ways they learn about themselves and other people. Some kids tend to have a hard time seeing themselves in media because of lack of representation, which can have a big impact in their mental health, causing:

  • Lower self-esteem
  • Feeling of failure to live up expectations
  • Feeling of invisibility or unimportance

On the other hand, identification with representative characters can lead to positive outcomes. Research shows that identifying with popular characters with the same identities in mainstream media leads to higher self-esteem on several dimensions. link.

A-like can help kids see themselves in fictional characters, by showing them a series of images with the character and in which way they share similarities.

What it does

A-like’s main goal is to show kids that fictional characters that are like them exist. With help of their tutors, kids enter their information regarding their race and ethnicity (American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, White), their family type (Homoparental, Heteroparental,Single parent, Extended, Grandparent family) and if they have a disability (Dyslexia, Blindness, Asthma, 'Paraplegic, Autism, Deaf, Other).

With the characteristics of the kid selected, A-like goes through its own database and selects the characters that share similarities with the kid, showing them on screen with a photo of the kid.

How we built it

We used Visual Studio to make the app interface. Also SQL server to save characters and avatars, also were needed nuget packages and entity framework.

Challenges we ran into

Our biggest challenges were figuring out how to make a child friendly interface and how to reach our goal in a way kids would understand but also enjoy.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

At the beginning we didn't have a clear idea of what to do, and we expended a significant amount of time brainstorming and changing ideas. That is why the biggest achievement we are proud of is to have obtained a simple but useful and working app. We think A-like could serve as a first approach to teach kids the importance of diversity, and understand that everyone is alike, but also different, which is our goal!

What we learned

Some of the members had basic knowledge about Visual Studio, so this was a good approach to them. More than anything we are left with the learning that we have to prepare a lot to develop a complete idea and be able to achieve it.

What's next for A-like

We want A-like to be a very complete application, have a larger database and add several mini-games so that children feel truly attracted with the app

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