March 17, 2022

Listening to at-risk youth where they feel comfortable and safe

TeenSmart International is playing a part in listening to at-risk youth where they feel safe and comfortable to express themselves: on their phones and online.

Working with, this Central America not-for-profit organisation has developed a bot for its online platform,, and the JovenSalud mobile app. Through this, young people have free, 24/7 access to health self-assessment questionnaires, online coaching/counselling, virtual courses and forums. They also have the option to register in microlearning interventions where they receive messages related to specific themes of their interest.  

In this way, the power and flexibility of the Internet and mobile devices is being harnessed by TeenSmart to help “at-risk” adolescents and young adults ages 10 to 24 develop the knowledge, skills and motivation to live healthy, effective and satisfying lives.

Helping prevent high-impact risk behaviours through JovenSalud

The motivation for TeenSmart’s JovenSalud’s products stems from the fact that six common preventable risk behaviours - violence and accidents, tobacco, alcohol/drugs, risky sexual behaviours, sedentariness and poor nutrition - contribute to 75% of health care costs of illness and death in Latin America and the United States (CDC, UNICEF, WHO).

Traditional youth health support has been focused on costly face-to-face, adult-centred  interactions which are difficult to scale, as well as family and community influences, both of which are outside of the control of teens. This support is often clouded by misinformation and taboo. The mission of TeenSmart is to listen to young people where they feel safe and comfortable to express themselves: on their phones and online.

Importantly, to enhance the experience of teens using the platforms, TeenSmart has connected the Ariel chatbot to three channels: Joven Salud Homepage, Facebook and WhatsApp.
Establishing and training the bot

The bot is capable of providing information – in Spanish or English - about the various services that Joven Salud offers, giving different answers depending on whether the user is new or is already registered. It assists new users with the registration process on, provides information about the different services offered, and also assists in password recovery.

Gradually, the bot is being trained to answer questions related to themes such as sexual and reproductive health, interpersonal relationships, drugs, among others. TeenSmart’s medium-term goal is to train Ariel – the bot - to support the coaching-counselling service by answering general and basic questions. Importantly, the bot is capable of understanding audio, as well as responding in audio - and can refer to human assistance in case the user needs it.

Chat now with TeenSmart’s Ariel Chatbot
Or watch the demo video

On the horizon: Microlearning interventions on the mobile

Future plans include young people being able to receive the microlearning interventions for  which they have registered, through WhatsApp. Currently they receive these by email and through the mobile application.

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