by Tanni Haas, Ph.D.
Do you want to teach your kids how to stay happy and healthy in a way that’s both educational and fun? Encourage them to download an app – or three. Here are 6 of the very best apps available, and the best part is that they’re all free.
DreamyKid(Available at: Apple Appstore; Google Play; Age range: 9-18)
Healthy living is as about taking good care of the mind and the body. DreamyKid teaches kids how to relax their minds with guided meditations, visualizations, and affirmations through calming, positive messages. There are some issue-specific meditations that some kids might find particularly useful, including meditations aimed at building confidence before sports matches and focusing on their schoolwork.
Eat-And-Move-O-Matic (Available: Apple Appstore;
Age range 9-18)
If you want your kids to understand the consequences of their food choices, Eat-And-Move-O-Matic is the right app for them. Created by the Learning Game Lab at New Mexico State University, the app teaches kids to be aware of what they eat or drink. It lets them compare the calories in their food choices with the type and length of time of physical activities like biking, running, or walking needed to burn of those calories.
Ergobreak 4 Kids (Available at: Apple Appstore; Age range: 5-12)
Do your kids spend hours at a time hunched over their laptops or phones without getting up? If so, encourage them to download Ergobreak 4 Kids. The app has various stretching exercises designed to relax the neck and back muscles that are most affected by bad posture and repetitive strain. The exercises are demonstrated by other kids, who prompt viewers at intervals to keep moving through the exercises.
Nature Melody(Available at: Apple Appstore, Google Play; Age range: 5-18)If there’s one thing kids need to in order to lead healthy lives it’s a good night’s sleep, and the app Nature Melody can help them get that. It functions like an alarm clock and has more than 30 soothing, nature-inspired sounds to wake your kids up slowly and gently in the morning. The app can be used in the afternoon and evening, too, using the nap and a sleep timer function, for a stress-free end to their day.
NFL Play 60 (Available at: Apple Appstore, Google Play; Age range: 5-18)
If your kids love sports, especially football, but it’s hard to get them to do any actual exercise, NFL Play 60 is just the right app for them. Created by the NFL, in collaboration with the American Heart Association, the app lets kids pretend that they’re professional football players. But instead of simply making their on-screen avatars run and jump, they have to get off the couch and actually run, jump, catch and turn to make their avatars move. The app lets kids count the steps they’ve taken while playing the game.
Super Stretch Yoga(Available at: Apple Appstore; Age range: 9-18)
Besides meditation, a great way for kids to relax their minds and bodies for optimal health is to practice yoga. Super Stretch Yoga, created by a well-known yoga instructor, Jessica Rosenberg, teaches kids yoga through video demonstrations by other kids, with a focus on breathing and movement. It’s narrated by a character named Super Stretch and features 12 different poses with different skill levels. Kids can use the built-in camera to take pictures of themselves doing the various poses.
Tanni Haas, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Department of Communication Arts, Sciences, and Disorders at the City University of New York – Brooklyn College.