In December, the world was introduced to the Parenting Hero app for iOS. Based on the best-selling parenting manual "How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen: A Survival Guide to Life with Children Ages 2-7," the app was created by developer MythicOwl in collaboration with the authors of the book, Joanna Faber and Julie King. The app presents you with different parenting scenarios and challenges you to choose the right responses.
We recently had the opportunity to discuss Parenting Hero with Tomasz Mularczyk, who is the CEO of MythicOwl and here's what we found.
Can you explain how Parenting Hero works?
Parenting Hero uses hand-drawn comics to allow the user to play out typical parenting challenges and choose how best to respond - giving parents new strategies for handling common conflicts with kids. You can even choose the wrong answers on purpose and see how the cartoon children react, without traumatizing your actual children!
What were your team’s motives for creating the app?
As a teenager I used to surreptitiously read the parenting book "How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk" by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish -- mostly to be able to see through the tricks my parents were using, but also because of the hand-drawn cartoons, which as a kid I found very interesting.
After my first child was born I found myself attending a workshop based on the book and saw in practice how effective and helpful the "How To Talk" approach is, and it changed the way I communicate. Last year a new parenting book has hit the stores: "How To Talk So LITTLE Kids Will Listen," by Adele Faber's daughter, Joanna Faber - and Julie King. Of course I grabbed a copy. In my opinion this is the most accessible book for every new parent, though it’s not interactive. I thought that being able to really be in the shoes of the parents who are making the decisions would be the best way to practice.
How much research went into the app, and how many people were involved?
It took us more than a year to develop Parenting Hero. We started with a team of four, and after the prototype with a few scenes were ready we polished every scene with Joanna and Julie for 10 months - sometimes re-doing them from scratch to show the advice in the most effective way.
What do you think Parenting Hero offers that other (similar in purpose) apps don’t?
Parenting Hero is the only parenting app which allows to role-play common situations. All other apps focus on advice rather than the ability to practice and don’t allow the very effective trial and error method. I would see the app as an interactive course with gamification mechanisms rather than an electronic manual.
How has the app been received by users so far?
The app is doing great which is very rewarding for us! The App Store score shows 4.3/5, and we’ve received a lot of positive messages from users. It’s really motivating!
Have you been happy with the critical reception the app has received?
Definitely yes! Parenting Hero has been reviewed on many educational sites such as EducationalAppStore (“5/5. Not only is the app easy to navigate, features stunning graphics and animations but also offers instant, practical parenting advice to busy parents who have little time to search for the perfect parenting guidebook”), TeachersWithApps.com (“5/5, a MUST-HAVE for anyone who deals with kids!”) as well as the sites which focus on the apps like AppsZoom 8.8/10, “the application’s design couldn’t be better”).
AppAdvice has also been very keen to Parenting Hero, of course.
Do you recommend people to also own the manual that this app is a companion piece to?
Absolutely. I think the app has two great advantages – it allows you to learn quickly and practice without traumatizing your actual children! The book on the other hand allows you to better understand why this kind of communication works and to dive deeper into the details.
What was the reasoning behind the hand-drawn artwork aesthetic?
We wanted to capture the feeling of an interactive book rather than a smartphone. The graphics (over 1500 pieces for 15 scenes) have been hand-drawn by Katarzyna Struczyńska who is a Polish graphics designer and blogger.
What are you personally the proudest of about the app?
I think the fact that we are allowing parents to learn so much about how to properly communicate with children within an hour or two is the most important feature - and this makes Parenting Hero really unique.
Which element of the app was the trickiest to get right?
Despite the technical and aesthetic challenges I think that the content of the scenes needed the most work. We reworked them many times to make sure that all the texts for each scene sounded natural.
Are there any updates planned for the app across 2018?
We are very open to the feedback of our users and we are experimenting with adding some colour to the graphics, and are also thinking about adding some new scenes as well. We will also translate Parenting Hero to a few more languages.