ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The state hopes a new, free smartphone app will lure kids with fun selfie options, then offer them tips on how to avoid underage drinking and how to handle drunk people they encounter.
Gov. Susana Martinez announced the app at a news conference at the Boys & Girls Club of Albuquerque’s after-school program on Tuesday.x
“If you are under 21, that’s called underage drinking and it’s illegal and it’s bad for you,” Martinez told the crowd of children, many in Halloween costumes and wriggling in their seats.
One little boy raised his hand.
“My mom saw someone smoking in the car,” he told the governor.
She replied that driving while distracted is dangerous and that is another thing the app is supposed to help with.
“We want you to be safe,” she said.
The app, called Zero Proof, and accompanying trinkets, like temporary tattoos and squeeze balls in the shape of brains, cost $130,000 to develop and were paid for with state and federal tax funds through a program at the state Department of Transportation, according to Franklin Garcia, director of the traffic safety division.
In addition to the selfie function, in which kids can play with silly stickers and colors, the app features tips for kids older than age 12 about what to do “if your friend is passed out” or “if someone is driving buzzed.”
The primary advice is to seek help from an adult, call 911 and avoid getting into a vehicle with someone who has been drinking.
Also, the app suggests teens “keep good company” and “stick up for yourself and say you don’t want to drink” when friends apply pressure.
“Don’t follow these people that say ‘Come on. This is a shot. Come on, this is a jello shot’,” Martinez told the kids. “The answer is: I’m good. I don’t need anything. I don’t need to drink.”
Martinez was joined by several cabinet secretaries at the Boys & Girls Club near San Mateo and Comanche.
The app is available in the Apple App Store or on Google Play, and there are accompanying websites. A website for teens and tweens is at www.zeroproof.me. It features advice and Choose Your Own Adventure-style stories of youth facing challenging situations. A website for parents and teachers is at www.zeroproofnm.com. It includes resources on how to talk to children about underage drinking and lesson plans.