We often hear about the trouble teenagers can get into using the internet and social media. However, there are also some very beneficial uses of the internet and social media that support mental health.
There are a growing number of websites and apps for all types of devices available for teens to help them cope with stress, anxiety, depression or needing to talk with someone online who can help. So, how do we help our teens choose what apps or websites to look at?
The first thing I do is look for apps and websites that are recommended by professional organizations in Canada and the US, treatment agencies and/or are supported in the research on mental health for teens. To give you a start, I have listed four websites and apps that I found that are recommended by some of these organizations and supported through research.
Virtual Hope Box
This app is set up with four categories: distract me, inspire me, relax me and coping cards. The first three categories have exercises for the teen to engage in, such as creating their own coping cards. The app is designed to help teens manage in the moment through relaxation, distraction, positive thoughts and reminders of coping skills.
Kids Help Phone
The website provides information for teens in most areas of their lives. The information is categorized for the teens to access easily. It also has a popular Live Chat with a counsellor on Thursdays to Sundays from 6 pm to 12 am; although there may be a wait to chat with a counsellor. Always There is a password protected app where teens can record their feelings, access inspirational quotes and find jokes to help them cope. This app can also connect your teen to a Kids Help Line counsellor over the phone or through Live Chat.
This website for both teens and parents provides information on mindfulness, activities for mindfulness and suggestions for how to manage stress as a teen. The app Take a Chill, found on this website for a cost, helps teens manage stress in the moment using mindfulness exercises.
These are just a few apps and websites to explore with your teen. Remember, the use of the internet and apps is to help your teen make it through the day until they can talk with you. To truly monitor and help your teen’s mental health, make sure you try to talk with them for at least a few minutes every day to understand what is happening in their world and show them how much you care about them.