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23-05-2020 | ORIGINAL PAPER | Uitgave 9/2020

Mindfulness 9/2020

A Review of Mindfulness-Based Apps for Children

Tijdschrift:
Mindfulness > Uitgave 9/2020
Auteurs:
Andreia Nunes, São Luís Castro, Teresa Limpo
Belangrijke opmerkingen

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s12671-020-01410-w) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Abstract

Objectives

The use of mobile applications (apps) for the practice of mindfulness is becoming more and more popular. However, little is known about the mindfulness-based apps that are available for children. The present study aimed to overcome this gap. We identified and characterized mindfulness apps for children and provided an expert-based evaluation on apps engagement, functionality, aesthetics, information, and overall quality with the Mobile App Rating Scale (MARS).

Methods

Using the search term “mindfulness,” a human and a machine rater identified all apps in the Google Play and Apple Store. Three selection criteria were applied: the apps should be in English, related to mindfulness, and suitable for children (as defined in the store’s descriptive text). An expert multidisciplinary team of six trained judges used the MARS to evaluate the selected apps, whose main features were also extracted.

Results

Among the 1933 identified apps, 57 met selection criteria. The 36 free apps achieved an average score of 3.41 (out of 5) in MARS overall quality, with Mindfulness with Petit BamBou achieving the highest score (4.33). Most apps included audio-based meditation exercises, some of them combined with videos. Exercises were typically presented as isolated practices rather embedded in sequenced programs.

Conclusions

Despite the general “acceptable” level of quality, most apps failed to achieve a score of good (≥ 4.0) in all MARS dimensions. Overall, it seems that there is room for improvement in what concerns the mindfulness-based apps freely available for children. Moreover, empirical evidence on their effectiveness is clearly warranted.

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