New Interactive Tool Helps Parents "Start the Talk"

SAMHSA recently launched Start the Talk, an interactive, online simulation tool that helps parents and caregivers of children ages 9 to 15 practice tough conversations about alcohol.

Start the Talk is the newest component of "Talk. They Hear You.", SAMHSA's national underage drinking prevention campaign, which launched last May. The Campaign equips parents and caregivers with the information, tools, and confidence they need to start talking to their kids early—as early as 9 years old—about the dangers of alcohol.

Start the Talk is an evidence-based behavioral tool that uses life-like avatars to engage in interactive conversations. The simulation is based on research in social cognition, learning theory, and neuroscience. Each virtual role-play conversation is structured as a 10 to 12 minute interactive experience. Users enter a risk-free practice environment, assume a parental role, and engage in a conversation with an intelligent, fully animated and emotionally responsive avatar that models human behavior and adapts its responses and behaviors to the user's conversation decisions.

Studies have shown that parents have a significant influence on young people's decisions about alcohol, especially when they create supportive and nurturing environments in which their children can make their own decisions.  This is why talking to children, early and often, can have a significant impact on how a child thinks about alcohol.

Practicing conversations, even virtually, can assist parents and caregivers with the real-life, important talks needed to prevent a child from engaging in underage alcohol use.

SAMHSA encourages its partners to try Start the Talk  themselves and then share the tool and other "Talk. They Hear You." campaign resources with parents and communities. Find links and helpful tips at www.underagedrinking.samhsa.gov under the Partner Toolkit tab