Pandemics are biological natural disasters that can have a traumatic impact on children and adolescents’ wellbeing. Recent metanalyses have well documented the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of psychopathological symptoms. To promote children and adolescents’ resilience and foster their emotional competence concerning the pandemic, we developed the psychoeducational app PandHEMOT® (Pandemics – Helmet for EMOTions), as part of a larger project. In this study, we tested the efficacy of a training using PandHEMOT® aiming at increasing children and adolescents’ knowledge and metacognitive awareness about pandemics, emotions, and emotion regulation strategies, also investigating class level differences. Moreover, we explored changes in participants’ wellbeing for ethical issues. We involved a sample of 65 third and 82 seventh-graders from Northern Italy, divided into an experimental and a control group. The experimental group participated to a three-unit training using PandHEMOT®; both groups filled in pretest and posttest questionnaires. Our findings indicated that participants belonging to the experimental group increased their knowledge and metacognitive awareness about the training contents, with adolescents performing better than children. In addition, participating to the training did not affect wellbeing. On the whole, we documented the efficacy of PandHEMOT® following the standards of evidence-based research. Notwithstanding some limitations, this study expanded knowledge about the possibility to use digital activities for promoting disaster-related learning with children and adolescents. It is also a valid example for developing other psychoeducational tools to foster emotional competence to cope with both possible future disasters and everyday life tasks.
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