Apps to Help Kids and Teens with Anxiety

Overview

A national survey found that 38% of young adults 14-22 years old experiencing moderate to severe symptoms of anxiety and depression are using stress and anxiety-reducing apps to help them feel better. [Rideout: 2018] Common signs of anxiety in children and adolescents are acting worried or afraid, crying, shaking, tantrums, and refusing to do things, such as talking. Physical symptoms of anxiety are a racing heart, stomach aches or nausea, headaches, sleep problems, dizziness, shortness of breath, sweating, chest pain, muscle discomfort, and tingling/prickling sensation in extremities.
The following apps offer a variety of approaches ranging from mindfulness, guided meditation and breathing, sleep stories, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and even virtual coloring. These apps are generally free or low-cost, but some offer in-app purchases or a free trial prior to a subscription. We’ve indicated age and cost in the descriptions below. The Medical Home Portal has provided this information as a service and does not endorse any of the apps specifically or receive reimbursement from any of the app developers or sites.

Apps for Kids

BreatheSesameStreet
Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame Street
An app for young children to help teach problem-solving, self-control, planning, and task persistence skills. Kids learn as they help a Sesame Street monster friend calm down with belly breathing and solve everyday challenges. The website includes many other apps to help children cope with divorce, incarceration of a family member, emergency preparedness, autism, moving, and being part of a military family.
Moshi
Moshi Kids: Sleep and Meditation
This app for younger children offers relaxing, kid-pleasing stories, music, and relaxing sounds coupled with cute characters to reduce bedtime stress and anxiety and promote mindful moments during the day.
DreamyKid
DreamyKid
An app for guided meditation. Categories include general meditations (confidence-building, positive-thinking, etc.), sleep stories, affirmations, and issue-based guided meditations (ADD/ADHD, anxiety, overeating, etc.).
Manatee
Manatee & Me
An app with evidence-based courses that focus on helping children conquer anxiety, depression, ADHD, general stress, and more. Also includes courses that focus on parenting. A “family-first mental health app for the modern world.”
PositivePenguins
Positive Penguins
This app helps children understand why they feel the way they do. Four positive penguins take the user on a journey to understand that feelings arise from their own thoughts. The app content focuses on challenging negative thoughts to help see things through a more optimistic lens. It emphasizes that feelings come from thoughts, not situations, and that anxiety is therefore modifiable.
SuperStretchYoga
Super Stretch Yoga
This app uses a superhero character to guide children through yoga poses and breathing. Helpful for calming, mindfulness, and sensory integration. Focuses on self-awareness, self-esteem, and self-regulation.

Apps for Teens/Adults

HappyMe
HappyMe: Mood Tracker & Diary
An app that helps users track daily anxiety levels on a calendar to track day-to-day progress. It includes access to an online community of users and a skills section for better understanding emotions, resilience and mindfulness, and effective communication skills.
Headspace
Headspace
This is one of the more recognized mindfulness apps available. It focuses on teaching meditation and mindfulness skills from world-class experts. There are hundreds of guided meditations focusing on everything from sleep to anxiety and mind-body health.
InsightTimer
Insight Timer
This app has received many awards as a meditation aid. It offers guided meditations and talks by top mindfulness experts, neuroscientists, psychologists, and teachers to help calm the mind, reduce anxiety, manage stress, sleep deeply and improve happiness.
SmilingMind
Smiling Mind
Smiling Mind is an extensive Australian mental health resource focused on mindfulness and developed by psychologists and educators to help bring balance to people’s lives. The website offers videos and resources for home, school, and the workplace.
MindShift
Mindshift CBT
This app uses scientifically proven strategies based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to “help you learn to relax and be mindful, develop more effective ways of thinking, and use active steps to take charge of your anxiety.” Focuses on challenging negativity and developing effective ways of thinking.
Breathe2Relax
Breathe 2 Relax
This is a simple app developed by the U.S. Defense Health Agency to teach diaphragmatic “belly” breathing, which helps lower stress and anxiety. Graphics and narration lead users through several breathing exercises. It is described as a portable skill rehearsal tool.
Calm
Calm
This is a popular app for sleep, meditation, relaxation, and sleep stories. Soothing bedtime stories, some narrated by celebrities, help users relax and fall asleep naturally.
7Cups
7 Cups: Online Therapy and Chat
This app offers free, anonymous, emotional support and counseling from trained active listeners. There is a text chat feature and listeners are available 24/7. Teens can also share their thoughts with peers. Described as “emotional support on demand.”

Coloring Apps

HappyColor
Happy Color
This app is an electronic color-by-number app for mindless coloring. Includes an endless amount of pictures, including mandalas, flowers, and Disney characters.
Colorfy
Colorfy
This app offers a relaxing electronic coloring experience.

Information & Services

For answers to questions about symptoms of anxiety, causes, and treatment, see Anxiety Disorders.

Authors & Reviewers

Initial publication: May 2020; last update/revision: October 2021
Current Authors and Reviewers:
Author: Alanna Brickley, MD
Contributing Authors: Deirdre Caplin, Ph.D., MS
Jennifer Goldman-Luthy, MD, MRP, FAAP
Authoring history
2020: first version: Deirdre Caplin, Ph.D., MSCA
AAuthor; CAContributing Author; SASenior Author; RReviewer

Page Bibliography

Rideout, Victoria; Fox, Susannah; and Well Being Trust.
Digital Health Practices, Social Media Use, and Mental Well-Being Among Teens and Young Adults in the U.S.
Providence St. Joseph Health Digital Commons Articles, Abstracts, and Reports. 2018(1093). / Full Text