Many children growing up in urban areas of Western countries have limited contact with and knowledge of farm animals and food production systems. Education can play an important role in children’s understanding of farm animal welfare issues, however, most education provided focuses on pets. There is a need to develop new farm animal welfare interventions for young children. This study examines the process of designing, developing, and evaluating the effectiveness of a new theoretically-driven digital game to teach children, aged 6–13 years, about farm animal welfare. ‘Farm Animal Welfare’ aimed to promote children’s knowledge about animal welfare, promote beliefs about animal sentience, and promote positive attitudes and compassion. A quasi-experimental design was carried out, using self-report questionnaires that children (n = 133, test = 69, control = 64) completed in the classroom. Test and control groups were from different schools and the control group did not engage in the intervention. Findings indicate a positive impact on beliefs about animal minds, knowledge about animal welfare needs, and knowledge about welfare in different farming systems, but there was no change in compassion or attitudes about cruelty. This study presents the first evaluation of a digital animal welfare education intervention for children, demonstrating the benefits of incorporating ‘serious games’ into farm animal welfare education. The findings will inform future practice around farm animal welfare education interventions for primary school children.
- farm animals
- animal welfare