Spring has returned in the north, a time when children across the country turn off their video game consoles and venture out into the woods, building tree forts and rolling about in the underbrush. That is, until they play Tick Tackler. Then they're never going outside again.
Did you know there are tiny bugs lurking outside, waiting to burrow into your skin and give you a disease that could, in the most extreme cases, cause complete paraplegia? Isn't nature wonderful?
Lyme disease is an emerging infectious disease, which means the number of cases is expected to increase in the near future. Cause by several types of bacteria, this disease first manifests as fever, headaches, fatigue, and depression. Left untreated, it can spread to the joints, heart, and central nervous system.
All that from a tiny little insect that just wants to feed on your blood. Or the blood of your pets.
Yes, outside is a wonderful place.
In order to help combat the spread of Lyme disease, the Lyme Disease Association and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey have partnered to create a pair of learning tools that are sure to make young children and adults alike never want to leave the house without a full-set of skin-tight body armour.
First up is a video gleefully named TickLES, a passive tool for teaching children about the big, scary outdoors.
But we're far more interested in Tick Tackler, a free online game that shows children how to properly arm themselves in the battle against tiny spider-like creatures they can barely see.
Tick Tackler begins with a young boy named Jack having a nightmare about an army of ticks invading his town.
Waking up, he begins getting ready for his upcoming camping trip. The player has 90 seconds to fill Jack's backpack with things that will prevent him from becoming infested with disease carrying bugs. The game encourages the player with helpful messages. Place a pair of socks in the bag, for instance, and the game tells you "Right! This will prevent ticks from crawling up Jack's leg."
That should be enough to terrify any child. It scared the hell out of me. Then I imagined the sort of places ticks could go once they made it up the leg, and I had to step away for a moment.
In case they still need convincing, they can move on to the second stage, in which Jack and his friends wander haphazardly about the forest, unmindful of the dangers lurking everywhere. Jack must grab his friends and take them to a safe zone, which in this case is a tony tent in the corner of the screen. The rest of the screen? INFESTED WITH TICKS.
I didn't have to go any further. The only time I'll be leaving the house this spring and summer is to run to the store for supplies, and even then I am wearing jeans and a long sleeve shirt, preferably tucked into gloves.
So if you're afraid of your child wandering outside and getting covered with disease carrying insects, hit up the link below to scare the living hell out of them.
NEW! Free & Fun Lyme Prevention Video Game for Kids [Lyme Disease Association]