The COVID-19 pandemic has a profound impact on mental health, particularly on that of young people. According to a national survey, children generally experience twice as much anxiety, loneliness and stress than before the pandemic. Because they are required to take online school lessons at home, they experience a lack of physical social interactions with their peers, and the resources to help them cope with their feelings and emotions. It is also difficult for school teachers and social workers to identify which students may need additional mental health care and consultation. Furthermore, young children are not good at expressing and recognizing their feelings. Therefore, we want to help them deal with their mental health with Egao (“smiley face” in Japanese).

Egao is a fun and easy web app for children aged 6 to 14. It is a platform for them to log their daily emotions, and it introduces various games that can help them cope with issues such as difficulty to focus, anxiety and stress. The emotion logs can also be shared with parents, school teachers and social workers who can then easily identify if the children might need health consultations. Via Egao, we provide (1) a safe space for children to open up their feelings, (2) a list of gamified activities to help them cope with the negative emotions through the pandemic, and (3) a collection of student emotion profiles for schools to identify and cater individual students' emotional needs and parents to track their children’s mood.

What it does

To create a sense of personalization and help children learn about their own personality, once the users first sign up, they are prompted with a “personality quiz”, which is based on the popular 16 Myers-Briggs Personality Type questions. After the quiz, based on their personality type, we will assign them different “spirit animals” avatars with a matched personality. Everyday, when the users start the app, they will be greeted with their spirit animals who will ask questions about their emotions. Based on the age group, we design a list of games for improving mental health. Children can play fun games on Egao to relieve their stress and tensions. Upon completion of the game, they can collect “smiles”, which give them a sense of accomplishment. At the end of the day, the users will be prompted to check out by sharing their emotions again, and they can log out of the page. We will collect their mood responses to a database. We can fetch the data to generate figures for monthly mood tracker and an emotion word cloud, which is available to view on the history page. They can be shared with parents, school teachers, and social workers for them to keep track of the children's mood.

How we built it

To implement the web app, we used HTML, Javascript, CSS and bootstrap. For storing user signup and login information, and mood responses, we used Google Cloud's SQL database. The graphics were done using Adobe Creative Cloud. We used Photoshop to hand draw the character on an ipad, and After Effects for making animation! The movies used for the welcome page and the breathing exercise were then rendered into a .mov file, then into a .gif via an online converter in order to implement into the web app.

Challenges we encountered, and how we overcame them

In terms of the technical part, at first, we had a hard time getting the right configuration parameters used for the Google Cloud's SQL database instances. Once it was sorted, we were able to connect to the web app and store the user login information. Some of our teammates are also coding javascript for the first time. In addition, it was challenging to hack remote. We managed to communicate with each other via discord, zoom and share code efficiently with github. For the content of the webpage, because it is an app catered for a younger group, we did a lot of research to select the right games and the appropriate questions, which are fun to play with and easy to understand.

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