LoveLogs: Relationship Diary – education through entertainment
UNESCO IITE and Women’s Health and Family Planning Charity Foundation mark the onset of spring by launching LoveLogs: Relationships Diary – a new mobile application for teens and young people about relationships, love and health.
LoveLogs is an edutainment project that enables users to generate and keep a diary of their relationships. Their notes, photos and short videos stored in the application form an interactive “relationship feed.” Users can get reminders about important dates in their relationship and save joint plans and ideas in the calendar.
In addition to keeping a diary, users can access reliable, expert-verified information about safety in relationships (including sexual relationships) and about health. The app’s educational content is packaged in the accessible, user-friendly format of short answers to frequently asked questions (“LoveHacks”). If, however, the app’s question and answer section does not provide a ready answer, users can refer their problem or question to an expert psychologist or a medical doctor via the application.
The mobile application is aimed at a teen audience, targeting in particular young girls and boys aged 12 to 18, active smartphone users, who are entering their first romantic relationships and wish to learn more about love and sex.
The authors are convinced that a combination of entertaining and educational content is what makes it possible for them to attract an audience which may not be interested in a straightforward discussion of relationships safety, sexual and reproductive health, finding it didactic and boring. This type of users may download the application to save and edit their photos and videos and to celebrate memorable milestones in their romantic relationships.
However, as their love stories evolve, these young people may start having questions. How do I know whether or not it is real love? Are they ready for a “serious” relationship? How to discuss contraception with the partner? How to enjoy a romantic relationship without fear of unwanted pregnancy or STIs? The app provides answers to all of these questions in a user-friendly format, so there is no need to spend time searching the internet. Instead, users can find what they need to know by going to the “LoveHacks” section of the application, says Yulia Plakhutina, National Project Officer for Health Education.
LoveHacks: simple answers to complex questions about love and relationships
The educational component of the application LoveLogs: Relationship Diary is informed by questions about love, relationships and sexuality commonly asked by young audiences. Collected from popular online Q&A resources in the Russian Internet, these frequently asked questions have been answered by experts from Women’s Health and Family Planning Charity Foundation, certified psychologists and journalists writing for youth.
Screenshots of LoveLogs: Relationships Diary App”LoveHacks” are grouped by topic to facilitate navigation. They use concise and clear language to describe typical situations which teens may find difficult to handle. In addition to this, users can contact psychologists and medical doctors via the app for more information.
We know that each user’s story is unique and by far not all issues can be resolved by a short instruction. Therefore, we enable users to contact a medical doctor and/or a psychologist directly from the application. To do so, users need to click on the question mark in the “LoveHacks” section and briefly describe their problem. An answer will be sent to their personal e-mail address or posted on the TeensLive.info portal under the “Ask” Section, says Alexandra Ilieva, UNESCO IITE Project Coordinator for Health Education.
The expert-generated content in the app’s educational section will be updated with each new iteration of the app by adding answers to most common recent questions sent to experts by LoveLogs users. The app audience, therefore, will be able to shape its educational content.
“The texts and phrases in the application create the impression of communicating with a friend whom you trust enough to both share your happy moments and discuss complicated issues and situations. But of course, the most important and unique feature of the application is its connection with the TeensLive.info website, in particular its “Ask” Section, where medical doctors and psychologists answer user questions (including those asked anonymously). A review of usage statistics over several years indicates that this section is one of the website’s most popular features, and since the app was launched, the number of incoming questions has grown approximately tenfold, offering yet more evidence that young people really need information about relationships and health, as well as expert support and advice,” says Tatyana Slobodyan, project coordinator at the Women’s Health and Family Planning Charitable Foundation, stressing the importance of discussing reproductive health and relationships with adolescents.
Visual content and body-positive illustrations
Designed to appeal to a demanding young audience, the application’s carefully selected art graphics and design are minimalistic, and the promo content on the app’s landing page, social media pages, etc. uses body-positive imagery, reflecting the idea of making the application accessible and friendly for a wide range of users.
Since the app’s target audience likes to use visual content, we have made it possible to add different types of diary entries, including images and video, as well as text. Combined in a single diary feed, they can be filtered by type of content.
We made sure that users have plenty of means for self-expression available to them. When creating a new entry, they are prompted to follow the diary’s general style and content. A wide choice of backgrounds and mood emojis are available for text entries, and photos can be enhanced by frames, filters and stickers or arranged in a collage, says Natalya Novikova, Content Director at Productivity Inside, the LoveLogs developer company, describing the app’s main features.
Balance between private and public content
In an effort to create a comfortable and familiar environment for users, the developers found it essential to maintain a delicate balance between privacy – associated with the personal diary genre – and publicity. The app’s users can choose what events and experiences they wish to share with others. By default, the diary is private and offline, but any entry can be selected for posting to social networks.
The app is designed to store all entries on the user’s smartphone (no cloud storage). Users wishing to protect their entries from unauthorized access can set a password.
Involvement of Youth Ambassadors and early results
Since the launch of the LoveLogs application, the team has been working to attract new users via local and country influencers, such as popular Instagram and VKontakte bloggers reaching out to young people with sex education messages and broader healthy lifestyle-related topics. Other plans to promote the app include thematic partnerships with creators of mobile and desktop games, and competitions with prizes from LoveLogs‘ partners.
“The fact that the app has been launched only on one mobile platform is a serious challenge in terms of reaching out to opinion leaders. In many instances, people trusted by the target audience were willing to test the product and publish their review but did not have the technical possibility of doing so. Therefore, making LoveLogs a cross-platform app is an important part of its further development,” according to Ilia Stechkin, senior product and marketing manager at TechComLab and UNESCO IITE consultant.
- Presentation of LoveLogs App on UNESCO Symposium Switched ON
In February 2020, the application LoveLogs: Relationships Diary was presented at the UNESCO Symposium Switched ON: Sexuality education in the digital space in Istanbul, attended by more than 150 delegates from all regions of the world. Tatyana Slobodyan, project coordinator with the Women’s Health and Family Planning Charitable Foundation, shared with the Forum audience some of the challenges the team had faced in creating the application as well as an outlook for its further development.
To date, the application has been downloaded more than 18,000 times and counting, which indicates that this digital product is timely and its content is relevant.
LoveLogs in the ecosystem of digital tools created with UNESCO IITE support
As young people become increasingly involved in digital spaces – more than 70% of the world’s youth aged 15-24 are online* – it should not be surprising that many of them are turning to digital sources for advice about their own bodies, relationships, including sex, and health. Digital spaces offer a wide range of opportunities to make health education more accessible, attractive and interactive for young people, especially in contexts where formal health education is limited or non-existent.
*International Telecommunication Union. 2018. ICT Facts and Figures 2017, https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Statistics/ Documents/facts/ICTFactsFigures2017.pdf (по состоянию на январь, 2020)
According to a recent UNESCO study,** more than 29% of young people surveyed reported using digital resources to find information about their bodies, sex and relationships, while 31% indicated friends and acquaintances as their key sources of such information, and just 25% mentioned school lessons.
** Restless Development, Studies on sexuality education in the digital space, © UNESCO, 2019 (unpublished)
This is the reason why UNESCO IITE has for several years supported the development, implementation and scale-up of quality health education using cutting-edge ICT. Both UNESCO IITE staff and experts strongly believe that this support will enable young people to develop essential knowledge, skills and attitudes they need to maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout their lives.
“Many health and relationships resources are designed for more adult audiences and offer a lot of diverse information all at once, which teenagers may find overwhelming. By using LoveLogs, they can learn exactly what they need at the moment and then take in more information in a natural way as their interest in topics related to growing up, relationships and love develops over time, says Tigran Yepoyan, UNESCO Regional Health Education Advisor, explaining why this application is different and unique.
The application LoveLogs: Relationships Diary adds yet another important element to the ecosystem of digital tools created with support from UNESCO IITE and empowering millions of adolescents in Eastern Europe and Central Asia to learn more about themselves, relationships and health. You can find more information about the digital resources developed with UNESCO IITE support by selecting ICT in health education on our website.
How to download LoveLogs: Relationships Diary?
At the moment, LoveLogs: Relationships Diary is available for users of Android smartphones and tablets in Russia. The application is soon to be launched in Ukraine (in Russian and Ukrainian) and in other countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
The application website (in Russian): https://lovelogs.info/
The LoveLogs: Password-Protected Relationships Diary page on Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.iiteunesco.lovelogs (as of March 2020, available for download in Russia, availability in other countries will be announced later)