I suspect most parents of teens and tweens are contending with the “Zoom Gloom” of quarantine. We’ve developed a love/hate relationship with communicating via screens. Screens sap our energy and yet they allow us and our kids to access worlds beyond the insular place we occupy in the pandemic.
My husband and I are parents to a 12-year-old girl and 10-year-old boy who have a healthy appetite for playing SuperSmashBros. and consuming TikTok dance videos. Pressing them to move their bodies in the fresh air is a daily chore. I include myself among those who need these reminders, as well.
In modulating my own screentime and mental health during quarantine, I tried several apps over the course of a month. Here are three that I found helpful and even worthy of sharing with my tween daughter and son:
This is a pretty straightforward app that pings users at random times throughout the day to monitor their mood. This app was developed as part of the research of a doctoral candidate at Harvard University. My 12-year-old and I enjoyed using this app for a few days but it eventually got repetitive. The app asks interesting questions such as whether or not you have used social media in the last hour, or whether you are outside, or whether you are interacting with another person. It does ask whether a person has had sex in the last 24 hours, though, which I didn’t expect before allowing my tween to download it. That said, it did offer me new ideas about what in my and my child’s environment may be affecting our moods and overall well-being.
MoodKit is a one-of-a-kind app designed to help you apply effective strategies of professional psychology to your everyday life! With four integrated tools, MoodKit helps you to…
* Take action to improve your life.
* Feel better by changing how you think.
* Rate & chart your mood to monitor progress.
* Develop self-awareness & healthy attitudes.
Developed by two clinical psychologists (creators of Moodnotes), MoodKit draws upon the principles and techniques of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), one of the most effective and scientifically-supported methods of psychotherapy. MoodKit’s innovative design enables it to be used on its own or to enhance professional treatment.
• Over 200 mood improvement activities.
• Tailor recommended activities to your needs.
• iOS calendar integration.
• Guidance to modify distressing thoughts.
• Unlimited/multiple mood ratings & notes per day.
• Exportable Mood Charts with 7 & 30-day views.
• Saves exportable notes to a central Journal.
• Over a dozen custom journal templates.
• Add your own activities & journal templates.
• Link custom reminders to your favorite tools.
• Security PIN, Touch/Face ID, & AirPrint enabled.
• View mood notes right from the chart.
Action For Happiness – This is a pretty straightforward app that pings users at random times throughout the day to monitor their mood. This app was developed as part of the research of a doctoral candidate at Harvard University. My 12-year-old and I enjoyed using this app for a few days but it eventually got repetitive. The app asks interesting questions such as whether or not you have used social media in the last hour, or whether you are outside, or whether you are interacting with another person. That said, it did offer me new ideas about what in my and my child’s environment may be affecting our moods and overall well-being.
Reflectly Self-Care Journal – The World’s First Intelligent Journal
Reflectly is a journal utilizing artificial intelligence to help you structure and reflect upon your daily thoughts and problems. Your personal mental health companion.
Daylio Journal – Pick your mood and add activities you have been doing during the day. You can also add notes and keep an old school diary.
Entry takes just seconds but helps you ginormously. You will discover hidden patterns and maybe use Daylio to create some useful habits like running, eating more healthy or waking up earlier.
Calm – I paid a month-long subscription to use this app. I was surprised that there were so many stories and meditations created with children in mind. I enjoyed doing one motivational meditation produced by LeBron James with my 9-year-old son. My impression is that there is a steady stream of new content being added by these content creators, which makes the subscription a valuable investment. There are regular “How are you feeling?” check-ins and in addition to recording the corresponding emoji, I tried also to record memories and things I had done with my kids that particular day.
Instagram – I know this may seem like an odd choice for promoting good mental health since teenagers often fall prey to the negative messages of social media. Yet I’ve been enjoying the “save” feature on Instagram posts that amuse or inspire me (hits include rollerskating wunderkinds and delightful vegan cooks). Whenever I need to connect with one of my children, I enjoy going through the backlog of saved posts and sharing them. It’s not the only way I engage them, but it’s a bit of a penny for their thoughts that is enabled by an app on my phone.
I know the very best medicine for abiding the valleys of this pandemic is not found in the pixels on my phone. But when the dinnertime laughter fades and the humidity makes a hike through the woods seem untenable, I’m glad to have the gift of technology to which I can turn, even inviting the young people who live with me to reconsider that maybe Mom’s app game isn’t as weak as they believe.