Even before the advent of social media, life as a youngster was already a difficult enough proposition. Whether it was finding one’s place amidst the various cliques in the schoolyard, battling assorted growing pains or juggling difficulties at home, the path to happiness as an adolescent has always been littered with numerous potholes.
Nowadays, with digital devices within everyone’s reach, the journey is even more perilous. Seemingly every aspect of kids’ lives can be thrust into the public eye, open for scrutiny and, worse still, anonymous criticism.
Thankfully, Mightifier, is quite literally on hand to help.
Through the Mightifier tablet app, children give one another feedback on their positive qualities and personality traits. Each child is assigned another student in the class to whom they are asked to give positive feedback. Students then choose a positive character trait and write an explanation why they think the person merits it.
Sounds simple, but the effects are rapid and concrete: “Teachers tell us that after 10 weeks of using Mightifier, they’ve seen that there is less restlessness and arguing in the classroom,” says company CEO Mervi Pänkäläinen. “As the atmosphere is calmer, the students are also more active with their schoolwork.”
Moreover, teachers are able to keep an eye on the big picture through a specific dashboard, giving them insight into the general trends in the classroom.
Reducing stress around the world
The inspiration that lead to Mightifier had a perhaps slightly surprising origin: brand building. Pänkäläinen, who previously helped build companies and products, says that when a brand is developed, the process typically starts with asking what is unique and special about it.
“With people, we tend to have it backwards – we focus on problems and what is wrong with others, rather than highlighting why they are unique and precious just as they are.”
Developing the idea, Pänkäläinen quickly realised that children especially would benefit from getting encouraging feedback from their peers.
The first version of Mightifier was tested last spring with 250 schoolchildren. The same year the company also took part in two different accelerators, which opened new doors especially abroad. Currently Mightifier has thousands of users, and is running pilot projects at schools in Chicago, Silicon Valley and Hong Kong.
Naturally, being used across the globe, cultural differences come into play: “In the US, complimenting others is not so much of a challenge as in Finland, but Mightifier still helps children better understand how their behaviour affects other people,” says Pänkäläinen. “In Asia, school children are typically under very high pressure to perform well. In that context, we are very happy if we can reduce stress and help children feel that they are precious just as they are.”
Know your strengths
According to Pänkäläinen, there is interest to expand Mightifier beyond the initial pilots in both Asia and the US, and the company is already in talks with private school chains, as well as other partners that would help the app become available to as many children as possible.
In addition to focusing on marketing the app abroad in the near future, the firm is also discussing with educational authorities in several Finnish towns about launching additional pilots around the country already this spring.
“It’s wonderful to see how children react to the positive feedback they receive, and it’s crucial for them to learn to recognise their own qualities,” Pänkäläinen says. “Lately we’ve heard a lot about young people, especially men, who have become marginalised from society. I would bet that those young men don’t know what their strengths are.”
Not for long, if Mightifier has anything to say about it.