New tech tools can help teens cope with stress, using what is often a teen’s favorite possession: a smartphone.
Teenagers in the U.S. are even more stressed than adults, and 82 percent of teenagers report feeling moderately or extremely stressed during the school year, according to a survey by the American Psychological Association.
While smartphones sometimes aggravate stress, especially when they interfere with sleep, creative developers are finding healthier ways to use the device. A variety of smartphone apps can help stressed out teens develop healthy coping habits.
Mindfulness, or meditation, is one of the best ways to cope with stress, and more high schools are incorporating mindfulness training into the school day, according to a recent report by the Washington Post. Mindfulness expert Sarah Rudell Beach recommends these meditation apps for teens:
• Smiling Mind (This one features guided meditation in an Aussie accent.)
Lack of sleep is associated with surges in stress hormones, which for teens may predict later mental health problems, according to research by Northwestern University’s Emma Adam.
Apps can foster healthy sleep by playing soothing sounds as people drift off, tracking sleep cycles and sensing motion to wake them up at an optimal time. Here are a few of the best sleep apps (just make sure to turn off notifications and block the light emitted by the phone):
For teens suffering not just from everyday stress but from clinical depression, mental health professionals are increasingly using apps to supplement therapy. The use of apps to help treat depression was recently endorsed by Britain’s National Health Service. Here are apps to try in conjunction with professional therapy. They are also useful for teens who are not clinically depressed but want to improve their moods:
Marsha Maxwell is an online journalist, writing teacher and PhD student at the University of Utah. She can be reached at aboutSLC@gmail.com.