Since starting ‘An Apple a Day’, we’ve talked a lot about the rise of mobile technology, and with the healthcare industry increasingly viewing apps as worthwhile investments, we’ve seen plenty of examples, which cater to both healthcare professionals and patients.
In the last week, it has been interesting to see a number of new apps emerging aimed specifically at children. Take, for example, the new free iPhone app from Healthline Networks, as part of their “Big Shots Get Shots” campaign. The app is intended to help children overcome their fear of needles ahead of flu season, using an interactive storybook to distract them while they are on the examining table. The campaign also encourages parents to take an online pledge to end needle phobia.
Brush DJ is an award-winning app for improving children’s dental health by making brushing teeth both fun and effective. The app plays two minutes of music randomly selected from the child’s phone to encourage brushing for an effective length of time. It also allows them to set reminders to brush twice a day, floss, and prompts them about when next to see their dentist. Parents who are used to the daily hassle of getting their kids to brush properly will no doubt welcome this app!
In the US, the Apps for Healthy Kids competition, backed by Michelle Obama, challenged developers to come up with fun and engaging ways to get children to eat better and be more physically active. The winner, Smash Your Food, provides a fun, mess-free way for kids to “play” with their food whilst learning about nutrition. A multi-user game, the app asks players to enter their age, gender and level of physical activity. The app then tells the player what their maximum levels of consumption should be for sugar, salt and oil per meal.
What is particularly interesting about health apps for children is the potential to engage both them and their parents. There is arguably no harsher judge than a child, if content is not fun and engaging they simply will not use it, no matter what the health benefits may be. Children today are also among the first generation for which smartphones are the norm and social media is second nature, while parents are arguably more likely to engage in something in the digital sphere if they think it is going to benefit their little ones. Beyond this, somewhat blurring traditional ideas around target audiences and aiming apps at other family members, particularly those more likely to be using this type of technology, is certainly worth exploring. This could include apps for younger adults that provide info about their parents’ health or even apps for women about men’s health, which they can use with their partners. It will be interesting to see if this trend grows as the mobile health industry continues to evolve.