Anxiety is a common and natural human response to situations that are unfamiliar, uncomfortable or threatening. Anxiety disorders share a number of common features and, in children, can have very significant impact upon their learning and emotional growth. Signs of anxiety difficulties may include consistent and excessive worries, common symptoms of fatigue, tension, headaches and stomachaches, and difficulties with sustained attention and concentration. Other tell-tale signs include unwarranted fears and irritability, difficulties with falling and remaining asleep, or a consistent sense of restlessness, or being “wound up.”
Many children who do not have a clinical anxiety disorder will still experience mild difficulties with stress, worry, irritability, concentration problems, physical tension, and avoidant behaviors. While modest difficulties may not require the same level of intervention as a child with a diagnosable anxiety disorder might, they may be helped by many of the technologies and strategies presented below.
Digital Media Strategies for Helping Children Overcome Anxiety:
- Encourage activity and movement. Active games and exercise has been proven to reduce symptoms of anxiety, which will in turn help a child to discard some of their worries and attend to the academic tasks at hand. Exercise has also been demonstrated to lead to increased capacities for focusing and learning, particularly in children with modest learning and attentional difficulties.
- Utilize child stress management tools. Apps like iCan: Anxiety Free, NatureSpace and Breathe2Relax provide users with a range of strategies for controlling emotions and reducing anxiety. Encourage your child to use these apps when he or she is feeling tense or anxious. Tell your child to use a room in your home where he can be comfortable and go undisturbed for the duration of the relaxation session. He should dress comfortably and follow the guided instructions earnestly.
- Understand stress triggers. Children who suffer with anxiety and depression may have trouble identifying irrational triggers and fears. Additionally, it may be difficult for children to accurately assess their day to day mood and stress levels, or identify areas in which the stress originates. Apps like Stress Tracker can provide excellent insight over long durations of time for monitoring common symptoms, triggers, and trends in relation to your child’s stress and anxiety levels.
- Harness the power of music. Children who experience the effects of anxiety and depression often have trouble gaining motivation to create changes which may be beneficial to their mental and physical health. Additionally, some of these children may have difficulty utilizing techniques to relax and relieve anxiety. Apps like Whimmy and Songza provide an excellent opportunity for children with anxiety and depression take steps towards remedying their symptoms. Songza provides support for helpful activities and habits that relieve the physical and mental symptoms of anxiety and depression, while Whimmy helps users cater music to fit their emotional state.