child playingIf your child or teen deals with health challenges like a serious illness, disability or mental health struggles, you know that things can get complicated. Just keeping track of appointments can be a full time job! Of course you’ve heard that technology can help, but picking an app, platform, website, service or device can seem like just another insurmountable task – just another thing you don’t really have time for. The goal of this post is to help you narrow your search by looking at the types of support technology can give.

Most apps, websites and other solutions designed to aid medically complex kids and their families fall into the following five categories:

1. Health Management Tools

Technology can help you diagnose and monitor an illness/condition, and some services even help you schedule appointments. For example Betterhelp.com helps young people connect with mental health therapists and the app ‘Catch My Pain’ helps users keep a journal monitoring pain symptoms. The app ‘Weal’, released later this year, will help caregivers, friends and family organize their support.

2. Health Information

Understanding an illness or condition can make it seem more manageable. But this can be especially hard for young people! Many apps and websites exist to help kids make sense of their conditions. For example, Coach4Life is an app that helps kids with kidney disease understand and manage their illness.

3. Community

Dealing with health challenges can be very lonely. Sites such as storycorps.com or themighty.com focus on sharing personal stories. Another option are apps such as ‘Kids Self Evaluate’ which helps kids and teens express themselves and share how they are progressing within a community of support.

4. Distraction

When your child has an illness or condition, he or she may have to endure things that other kids don’t – from hours spent in waiting rooms to the scary anticipation of pre-op room. In these situations, technology can provide an essential distraction. Consider games or apps that allow you to play with your child, adding connection to distraction.

5. Emotion and Mood

Here at Digging Deep, we know that illness challenges more than just the body – it can be a trauma for the soul. For adults, many applications exist to help manage mood and emotions, for example Daylio, Moodtrack Diary, or Moodlytics. Fewer resources exist for young people. And even fewer help users actually work through the issues they track with these apps. We hope to change that with our game Shadow’s Edge.

If we missed categories, please tell us in the comments! Don’t worry: We know that hundreds of options remain in each category and we will post more helpful apps in the coming months. For now, know that each of these kinds of help exists. The right technology can help you and your brave young person learn more, feel better and manage the emotional side of his or her illness.

Rosemary Lokhorst

Professional geek and guru of all things digital. Vice President of Operations at Living PlanIT, among many other hats. Guiding development of the Digging Deep digital game.


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