Educational apps help kids take control of their health

  • TECH
  • Wednesday, 10 Sep 2014

HELPING KIDS: Mission T1D's setting is a virtual school in which players earn their knowledge when they win enough points to unlock short, easy-to-remember tips about living with type 1 diabetes and in some cases shareable, educational videos.

Reflecting a trend of gamification, a growing number of apps are designed to help kids learn to manage their health, tackling subjects such as diabetes, asthma and even psychological aspects of growing up. 

Sanofi Diabetes, a division of Sanofi-Aventis, launched an app in the UK on Wednesday oriented towards kids with type 1 diabetes and their friends, parents and caregivers called Mission T1D

The setting is a virtual school in which players earn their knowledge when they win enough points to unlock short, easy-to-remember tips about living with type 1 diabetes and in some cases shareable, educational videos. 

The game includes quizzes that cover the basics of the disease as well as those of hypoglycaemia, what it's like to live with type 1 diabetes and healthy eating to manage diabetes.

EDUCATIONAL: Monster Manor teaches kids to manage type 1 diabetes.

It can be used individually or in a classroom setting and is available for download on iOS and Android. A PC version is available. 

Sanofi Diabetes worked with Canadian health games company Ayogo to develop the app. It's actually the second such app created by this partnership and the first, called Monster Manor, was recently shortlisted in the Health Service Journal (HSJ) Value in Healthcare Awards. 

Monster Manor is aimed at young patients with type 1 diabetes and rewards them for checking their glucose levels. It's available for both iOS and Android devices. 

Other educational toys for children with diabetes include the tangible, squeezable Jerry the Bear, who also has diabetes, and children learn about how to manage their own health by monitoring his glucose levels and making sure he sticks to his diet. 

Jerry the Bear is the first product of start-up company Sproutel, which makes health-oriented educational toys for children. 

Wellapets is an educational app for juvenile asthma management available for free on both iOS and Android devices. 

It's a virtual pet to whom kids teach proper inhaler techniques, and must clean up asthma triggers in his environment to keep him safe. 

As with many such games, kids take on the role of doctor in order to gain a proactive perspective that can afford them a sense of control over their health. 

For Android users, Asthma Buddy speaks to kids and parents alike, storing action plans, educating on what to do in case of an emergency and facilitating doctor communications. 

A myriad of games to teach kids about anger and other psychological aspects of growing up are available online and, indicating the improbability of obliterating them from the human psyche, are plentiful in parent and adult versions. 

Although anger management apps vary — some allow the user to download photos of a friend at whom he's angry and give him virtual smacks to the face — Taming the Monster helps kids deal constructively with anger. 

For example, it encourages the child to express his anger towards another in writing and reflect on the reasons for it without sending the letter. Other examples include counting to ten, taking deep breaths and releasing the anger in a pillow if all else fails. 

Among time management apps, Time Timer is downloadable on iOS and Android devices and allows children to visualise their time spent on tasks. It's also popular with adults although it's getting good reviews from parents whose children have benefitted from it. — AFP/Relaxnews 2014

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