• Sweden's news in English
Swedish app teaches children to empathize
An image from Peppy Pals Beach. Photo: Peppy Pals

Swedish app teaches children to empathize

The Local · 11 Mar 2015, 12:18

Published: 11 Mar 2015 11:17 GMT+01:00
Updated: 11 Mar 2015 12:18 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Few people would place an image of Gandhi adjacent to a picture of Hitler. But that's exactly what mother-of-two Rosie Linder did last week, standing on stage in front of 600 people at the Women in Technology event.

"What is the difference between these two men?" she asked the audience.

Pretty much anyone could offer an entire list of attributes that separate the two men - but according to Linder, it all boils down to one thing.

"The difference is empathy," she said. "We need more Gandhis in this world and fewer Hitlers."

Rosie Linder is the CEO and founder of Peppy Pals, a deceptively simple educational game for kids.

Three years ago, the mum grew dissatisfied with the games on offer for children and adolescents, including the games played by her own two children.

“The market for children's apps was full of superficial and gender-stereotyped games,” Linder told The Local after the event.

“I thought, how hard can it be to create a game with a good message?”

That message is empathy, an attribute which Linder says can – and must – be taught.

The Peppy Pals team at work at SUP46. Rosie Linder in pink. Photo: Beatrice Lundborg

“Today we only focus on achievements, and bullying is increasing,” she explained. “But research shows that if you practice Emotional Intelligence (EQ) as well, you also achieve better.”

When she couldn’t find any games involving learning Emotional Intelligence, Linder decided to create her own. Thanks to finding a strong and passionate team of developers called Talawa Games, along with support from Almi, business incubator Sting, and start-up collective SUP46, her vision turned into a reality.

The game, Peppy Pals, contains neither words nor written language, yet Linder says that it has the capacity to teach more than most games available today.

“Children don’t even realize they’re learning, but they’re practicing empathy and emotions while they have fun,” she explained.

A video demo of the game shows a nervous pup trying to gather the courage to go down a slide in a playground. The player assists the dog to take a deep breath before taking the leap – and then the dog proceeds to help a nervous little owl with the same problem.

“We have tested the game in kindergartens, and the response from children and teachers is fantastic,” Linder told The Local.

The first version of the game, Peppy Pals Farm, was released in 2013, and as with any start-up, progress was somewhat slow, though steady. But now, with the recent release of the new app Peppy Pals Beach as well as a series of accompanying books, the game’s popularity is skyrocketing.

“Amazon featured us as the app of the day, just because they thought our game was good and different,” Linder told The Local. “And now the game has been downloaded 60,000 times in something like 40 countries.”

Parents, children, and media alike have praised the game, which fosters benevolence and develops empathy through positive reinforcement.

“The response has been fantastic,” Linder said. “I never imagined so many people would be interested.”

Since the game has no text or language it’s universal Linder said that the primary markets right now are the US, Sweden, the UK, and Germany.

“We do have proof of concept, but the journey has just started,” the CEO remarked, adding that the company is looking for investors to scale up the business globally.

Story continues below…

The Peppy Pals team. Photo: Jenny Musial.

It’s quite the journey for a woman who never saw herself as an entrepreneur.

“I’m not a tech woman,” Linder remarked. “And I’m not young; I’m not a typical gaming entrepreneur. This field is made up of 90 percent men.”

But now the game-maker is a visionary who hopes to inspire not just women, but immigrants in Sweden as well, to start their own companies.

“I came to Sweden from Iran when I was 18,” she said. “And Sweden is a dreamland for starting companies. It’s fantastic.”

Linder added that there are many resources and plenty of assistance for new companies in Sweden – but that you have to be willing to ask for them.

“You have to have that personality where you can just call up and ask. I’m not very Swedish in that regard,” she said.

"Business is all about relations, and my experience is that most people are very helpful if they can see your passion and drive."

For more news from Sweden, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Löfven: 'Sweden will double its number of troops in Iraq'
Stefan Löfven and Haider al-Abadi during the visit on Monday. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has promised to double his country's number of troops in Iraq following a meeting with Iraqi counterpart Haider al-Abadi on Monday.

Will Swedes soon be looking for fairtrade porn?
Should Swedes think fairtrade with porn? Photo: Karin Malmhav/SvD/TT

A fairtrade attitude to pornography would be beneficial, Sweden's health minister told The Local.

Presented by Stockholm University
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Simon Paulin/imagebank.sweden.se

Nordic fashion took centre stage in the Swedish capital last week as Stockholm University hosted the “first-ever” academic conference looking at luxury and sustainability in the fashion industry.

Referee, coach and parents in Swedish youth football fight
File photo of a referee holding a red card not related to the story. Photo: Stefan Jerrevång/TT

A football dad broke his leg in the brawl in front of 11-year-old kids after a Hammarby youth football game.

Illicit abattoir kept more than 100 bulls' penises
A couple of young bulls not related to the story. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Dried cattle genitalia, goats' heads and hundreds of litres of lard were just a few of the many strange finds discovered when police raided a property in Sweden.

This is officially Sweden's most beautiful beard
The most beautiful beard in Sweden. Photo: Memo Göcek

According to a jury of barbers and 'well known bearded profiles', that is.

Presented by Invest Stockholm
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm

You might think it’s hard to make friends in a new city. But if at first you don’t succeed – try something else!

Injured Swedish photographer protected by 'guardian angel'
Swedish photographer Paul Hansen on another occasion. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Photographer Paul Hansen thanked his lucky stars for surviving sniper fire while covering the battle for the Isis-held city of Mosul in Iraq.

How Sweden is trying to smooth relations with Saudis
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven meeting Saudi Arabia's Trade Minister Majid bin Abdullah Al Qasabi. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has visited Saudi Arabia a year and a half after relations turned frosty in a major diplomatic row.

My Swedish Career
'Swedish people love it, but they find it quite odd'
Scottish entrepreneur William Macdonald. Photo: Michael Campanella

Meet the web developer and entrepreneur using traditional Scottish ceilidh dancing to break the ice with Swedes.

Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
Missing rune stone turns up in Sweden
Nobel Prize 2016: Chemistry
jobs available