App supports healthy relationships for teens

Auckland University of Technology’s Harmonised app  has been created with help from East Otago...
Auckland University of Technology’s Harmonised app has been created with help from East Otago High School pupils. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Teenagers engaging in unhealthy relationships which can do serious and sometimes permanent damage is a constant problem.

But a new Auckland University of Technology (AUT) app, designed with input from East Otago High School pupils, aims to change that.

Deputy principal Keith Fleury said the school was the only one in the South Island, and one of eight across the country, involved in developing AUT's Harmonised app.

He said AUT researchers had been to East Otago High School several times since the project began in November 2016, and would return tomorrow to meet all year 9-13 pupils to show them the finished product.

The app will be launched nationwide next year.

``There has been a lot of work go into the creation of this app, which can only be a good thing for teenagers because it will help them get information and make decisions around their relationships,'' he said.

AUT principal investigator Jane Koziol-McLain said the app offered a safe social media forum for young people to get support from each other and safe friends and family, and allowed communities to access information on how to support its teens to have ``happy, safe and violence-free relationships''.

``The goal of this project is to work with taitamariki [aged 13-17 years] to develop a healthy relationships app that supports taitamariki to have healthy and safe relationships.

``The app also provides pathways for friends and whanau to support their taitamariki.

``Relationships can be complicated. When struggling with relationships, young people don't always know what to do or where to go for help or what's OK and what's not.

``When they ask adults for help, they are not always taken seriously. Adults don't always know what to do or say either.''

Prof Koziol-McLain said teens have told researchers they need good information to help them have healthy safe relationships - not pamphlets.

``We all look to our phones to find information these days.

``We have created this app with taitamariki because we believe that taitamariki know what works for them and what doesn't.

``Supporting taitamariki [in] healthy relationships now will support healthy adult relationships that are violence-free in the future.''


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