Preventing cruelty and promoting compassion to pets through the ‘Pet Welfare’ educational iPad game

Roxanne D. Hawkins, Joanne M. Williams

Research output: Contribution to conferencePresentation


As technology advances, it is becoming an increasingly important part of modern children’s lives and classroom learning tool. We therefore have the opportunity to utilise this technology to design and develop interactive animal welfare education materials that promote positive child-animal interactions. The current study therefore aimed to design, develop and conduct a pilot evaluation of a novel animal welfare educational iPad game for children (ages 7-12 years). The aim of the ‘Pet Welfare’ game was to teach children about pet sentience, animal welfare needs and appropriate and safe behaviours towards pets. The game was designed to target the general child population to prevent unintentional animal cruelty and neglect, promote compassion and
promote positive and safe child-pet interactions.

The evaluation involved a pre-test, post-test design using a self-report questionnaire comprised of measures for compassion towards animals, beliefs about animal minds, attitudes towards cruelty to pets, knowledge about pet welfare needs and knowledge about appropriate and safe behaviour towards pets. Participants included 184 (53% boys, 47% girls) primary-school children, 92 test and 92 control, from three schools in Scotland, UK.

Two-way repeated measures ANOVA found significant effects of the game on: increasing knowledge about pet welfare needs (F(1,167)=15.2, p=.000, η²=.084), increasing children’s beliefs
about animal minds (F(1,166)=27.6, p=.000, η²=.14), decreasing children’s acceptance of cruelty to rabbits (F(1,167)=8.8, p=.004, η²=.05), and increasing knowledge about appropriate and safe
behaviour towards pets (F(1,165)=12.7, p=.000, η²=.072). There was no significant effect of the intervention on compassion or total acceptance of cruelty to pets. The results indicate significant
demographical differences where the intervention seemed most effective for older children and children without pets.

This study demonstrates the potential of developing interactive iPad games to promote positive child-animal interactions. The results of this pilot evaluation will inform future education directions for animal welfare organisations and those wishing to promote positive and safe
relationships between children and animals, particularly when direct contact with animals is not possible.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes
EventHuman-Animal Interconnections - UC Davis, Davis, United States
Duration: 22 Jun 201725 Jun 2017 (List of past ISAZ conferences.)


ConferenceHuman-Animal Interconnections
Abbreviated titleISAZ 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


  • Psychology
  • Animals
  • Technology
  • Serious games
  • Children
  • Education
  • Animal welfare


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