Whether the kids are on half-term or back in virtual lessons, most families are now spending more and more time indoors. There’s a certain amount of stress that can come with that – less space, more noise, and for many parents, the pressure to be limiting your (and your children’s) screen time. But for a lot of people that just isn’t realistic. So we’ve looked at how you can use screen time to your advantage and even help boost your family’s mental health via apps and other digital tools.
We’ve looked at how you can use screen time to your advantage.
The following tools are six of the very best.
- For building resilience:
Used by schools and parents worldwide, Mind Moose takes 7 to 12 year olds on a journey through their own minds, developing resilience and coping skills along the way. As parents, you get feedback as your children complete Moose Missions related to their wellbeing, giving you an insight into what’s worrying them and how to tackle it. Particularly useful during the transition to secondary school. Mind Moose costs £55 a year, and features scientifically proven exercises – with detailed guides and psychological explanations for parents.
As parents, you get feedback as your children complete Moose Missions related to their wellbeing, giving you an insight into what’s worrying them and how to tackle it.
- For family workouts:
Fitness app Sworkit offers both adult and children’s fitness content, and the good news is that the kids’ workouts are totally free. Choose from strength, agility, flexibility and balance workouts to boost mental and physical health. You can select the length of the workout and the focus, and schedule a time for it too – so the whole family receives a notification when it’s time to get moving. The app links with Spotify, meaning everyone can work out to their favourite playlist.
- For mindfulness:
Meditation app Headspace is all about being kind to your mind, helping you become less stressed, more resilient, and happier overall – something we all need during lockdown. With guided meditations starting at just a few minutes a day, both parents and children can enjoy Headspace at their own pace – or you could try meditating together with older children or teens. There’s something for everyone on the app with programmes to improve relationships, master self-discipline, get better sleep, and more.
With guided meditations starting at just a few minutes a day, both parents and children can enjoy Headspace at their own pace.
- For anyone struggling:
24/7 text helpline Shout, launched by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in May 2019, is free on all
major networks. By texting the word SHOUT to 85258, anyone in crisis can be put in touch with a trained volunteer who will chat to them in a series of texts. Shout has also partnered with the mental health charity Young Minds, so texting YM to 85258 will connect children to a specialist service designed for them.
- For staying entertained:
Google Arts & Culture
Sometimes you just need to keep yourself and your family entertained, and the Google Arts & Culture app and website are a wonderful way to do just that. The online platform lets you enjoy the things your kids may have missed out on over lockdown, like walking through the National History Museum – but as a penguin! Experience content from over 2,000 leading museums and archives who’ve partnered with Google to bring the world's cultural artefacts to life digitally.
The online platform lets you enjoy the things your kids may have missed out on over lockdown, like walking through the National History Museum.
- For some perspective:
No, we’re not suggesting charts with gold stickers (though they can be a great tool to incentivise young children) – Star Chart is all about the real stars. Give your mind a break and enjoy a magical stargazing experience like no other, either alone or with family, no matter how cloudy it is. The app calculates the current location of every star and planet visible from Earth and shows you precisely where they are, even in daylight! So when you fancy a little escape, simply point your device at the sky.
Being cooped up at home with children can be difficult at the best of times, let alone during a global pandemic – so it’s important to give yourself a break. Avoiding screen time is more difficult than ever now, but there are ways to make the best of it and encourage your family to explore the digital tools available to them. Take a look at our Digital Parenting Magazine for more advice and inspiration, and keep reading for a list of further resources.
More resources to boost your family’s mental health
Uses strategies based on CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) to help both children and adults relax, be mindful, and develop new ways of tackling anxiety.
Affordable, discreet online counselling for adults, couples, and teenagers. Find a licensed, professional therapist you can contact anytime, anywhere through a computer, tablet or smartphone.
Fitness for your family’s mental health – with Moodfit you can keep a mood journal, track daily goals, and even identify and dispute thoughts that are causing stress.
An app for dealing with stress, low moods, and anxiety – when you or a family member tell MoodMission how you feel, it offers a list of five simple, evidence-based Missions for improved mood.
Sanvello helps adults and teens improve their mental health on their own terms. Discover self-care strategies, an active community, expert advice, and access to live therapy whenever needed.