Top Apps and Tools Recommended for Every Entrepreneur

Running a small business takes a lot of work. Today there’s technology that will help you with this. This technology won’t only help you stay on top of what you’re doing but it will also help you free up time so you’re not always chained to your office.

Accounting and Expenses

One of the most important parts of your business has to do with accounting and expenses. When you don’t properly manage this area of your business you probably won’t be in business for long. Although you can clearly see how this could take up a lot of your time, PC Mag says it doesn’t have to be this way. Some apps that will help you stay in control in less time include:

NetSuite OneWorld is a completely scalable enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that helps you manage expense reports, purchase orders, business dashboards, and security records. Many business owners have made this their one-stop shop for managing their business when they’re away from their computer.

Acumatica is a general ledger accounting software. This is a browser-based tool that lets you access your accounting data from any device that has an internet connection – including a downloadable iOS or Android app. You can enter time cards, run expense reports, and enter purchase orders from the app.

Expensify is an expense report software for use on your mobile device. With its app, you can upload receipts through OCR SmartScan. It does a great job at accurately processing scanned data, which will save you and your employees time when it comes to inputting and processing expenses.

Tsheets is a mobile app that lets you clock in or out and track time even if you don’t have cell coverage. As a manager, you can clock team members individually or all at the same time. You can also see who’s at work and where they’re working from. Additionally, you can create, edit, and publish scheduled jobs or shifts, automate timesheet alerts, and track paid time off, sick days, and holidays.

QuickBooks is still a solid accounting tool that will help you track and manage your finances. While the app isn’t a fully featured, mobile version of the desktop application it still lets you track sales, send out invoices, and review recent payments while away from the office.

Collaboration and Communication

There are some other great communication and collaboration tools you should also check out. These include:

SurveyMonkey lets you see what’s going on with your customers and employees – something that’s crucial for a business of any size today. Simply create a survey that people can create and participate in from their mobile device. You can then analyze the data from your mobile device once the poll ends.

MailChimp is very helpful when it comes to email marketing, which is a 24/7 job. They’re on suite tools make it easy for you to launch a campaign from your mobile device. All it takes is a few taps and you can recreate the same campaign that you would have created from your desktop. From there you can also monitor the campaign’s progress, edit subscriber profiles, and run multivariate reports.

HubSpot is a marketing automation tool that provides you with a robust iOS and Android app. From there you can manage contacts between your marketing, sales, and service teams while on the go. You can also monitor leads as they move through your sales funnel, communicate with partners who are members of other teams and evaluate campaign metrics to decide if you need to make any wholesale changes.

Evernote Scannable is a great mobile scanning app that quickly and automatically scans business cards, documents, meeting notes, and other files for you. It also connects to LinkedIn and offers you a great text-parsing tool so that you can clean up any docs that turn out jumbled.

UberConference for online meetings. Another important area of your business lies in communicating with your customers and collaborating with your employees. It’s a solid video conferencing app that allows you to meet remotely with employees and clients. The platform is flexible, allowing you to connect with users on any device. This is a great way to virtually drop into a staff meeting while you’re away from the office.

Business Management

Although collaboration, communication, and accounting lie at the heart of your business, there are other important work-related tasks you can probably think of as well. There are some business management tools that are helpful here, including:

Salesforce Sales Cloud Professional is a CRM software tool that gives you access to customer and sales data. You can then use this data to improve your business’ operations. This comprehensive and flexible platform helps you stay in step with your competition. Business News Daily also points out that there’s a free extension that you can add on to this app. It encompasses your service’s Chatter, CRM, apps, and processes within your Android smartphone. This allows you to customize these apps so that they’re more functional and you can stay up-to-date with any notifications and alerts.

Zoho CRM is just as functional as Salesforce, but it also ties in nicely with the rest of the Zoho software ecosystem – including your Zoho email, document management, and email marketing client.

Sprout Social offers you help in creating and maintaining a solid social media strategy. It also provides the best social media management and analytics tools that you can access directly from your mobile device without sacrificing any functionality. Through these apps, you can identify influencers, ideal moments for customer engagement, and have data that back all these things up.

HootSuite offers a mature, complete set of social media management and analytics tools in a nicely designed hub. This lets you conduct comprehensive monitoring, influencer identification, and publish to social media channels.

As you look through these tools, remember that your company is only as good as the tools it uses. With so many tools available, the selection process can become quite daunting. However, you can’t ignore the fact that you need these tools so your business can run 24/7 while you only work weekdays from 9 – 5.

Twenty-Two Apps for the 21st Century Therapist

Mobile applications have a lot to offer therapists.  Whether you are looking for games to play with patients, productivity or billing tools, or something to help you research, there’s an app for that.  Many supervisees, students and consultees have asked me lately what apps I recommend, so I thought it was about time I gave you a list sampling those I find most helpful and fun.  Many are cheap or free, and available for the iPad, iPhone and Android:

1. GoToMeeting

Planning on doing online therapy?  Gotomeeting has desktop and app versions of videoconferencing software, which is HIPAA-compliant.  The app version allows you to attend meetings, but the meeting needs to be initiated from the desktop version.  I use this program for the majority of my online sessions with patients and supervisees.

2. IbisMail

If you are juggling multiple roles or a portfolio career, or simply want better therapeutic boundaries, this is the email program for you.  Installed on your iPad or iPhone, this program allows you to set up automatic filters, so you can sort through junk mail.  But it also allows you to set up folders for patient emails, so that you can have them all in one place.  Then it is up to you to decide when you review your patient communications, rather than have everything coming through one inbox.  Supports multiple email accounts.

3. Flipboard

If you are wanting to add value to your twitter followers or consultees, this is a great app.  It provides a slick intuitive interface on your mobile device that pulls in stories from feeds you set, from you Facebook account to the Harvard Business Review blog.  When you find something you want to share, the app allows seamless sharing on a variety of social media platforms.  In a few minutes you can browse and share selected readings and keep up to date on current interests.

4. Bamboo Paper

This app allows you to write notes on your iPad.  It is great for note-taking during evaluations, and allows you to send these notes to Evernote as a .pdf or email yourself a copy.  NOTE: Doing this is not HIPAA-compliant if you have distinguishing identifying information in the note, so I recommend you refrain from using the cloud-based features if you have any concerns about patient privacy.  If you are using it for workshops or other personal uses, however, no worries.  And if you keep the notes local to your password-protected device, it can be a great tool.

5. Evernote

I was hesitant to add Evernote due to the recent hack they experienced, but their quick and effective response to this have actually made me more confident that this cloud-based note-taking device is still useful.  It is NOT HIPAA-compliant, so I don’t use it for patient notes ever.  That said, it is great for dictating notes about workshops, blog ideas, snapping pictures of things for study aids, and a myriad of other useful tasks.  The notes sync up between every device you have them on, so you’re always up to date.

6. iAnnotate

One of my favorites.  iAnnotate allows you to markup .pdf files on your mobile device.  If you need to sign off on a document someone emails or faxes you, no more scanning, printing, scanning again stuff.  And if you are a student or researcher this is a must-have, as it supports highlighting and annotating research articles.  Syncs with Mendeley and Dropbox so you can store your research library with notes online.

7. 1Password

How can you make your mobile device more secure and use your web-browser more safely? This may be the answer for you.  1Password installs on your mobile or desktop, and allows you to save and generate extremely long and secure passwords.  The level of encryption can be adjusted for the most cautious of password protectors.  This program also syncs over the cloud so that you always have the up-to-date passwords on all of your devices.  Even more convenient, it can bookmark your sign-in pages.  All of this is secured by double-password protection on your iPhone.  Stop using the same lame password for everything and start generating unique hard-to-crack ones for true HIPAA-compliance.

8. Mendeley

One part social network, one part research library,  Mendeley allows you to store research articles and annotations online and on your device.  It allows you to network with other colleagues to see what they are researching, share articles, and store all of your articles in one place.  Often it can even pull up the bibliographic entry from the web just by reading the .pdf meta tag.  Geeky research goodness!

9. PayPal

This is one option for billing patients and paying vendors that is good to have. You can invoice by email, transfer money to your bank account, and keep track of online payments on the website. The app works well in a pinch if you aren’t ready to swipe credit cards in your office.  NOTE, each transaction has a small fee.

10. Prezi

I’d love to see more therapists using this one.  This presentation software allows you to create dynamic visual presentations on your computer or mobile device.  You could use it to convert boring DBT worksheets to a dynamic online presentation.  Prezi supports importation from powerpoint, and provides free online hosting of your prezis as well as tons of templates and tutorials.  If you do public speaking, upload some of your prezis on your LinkedIn profile to give potential clients a vivid sense of your work.  You can see a sample here, but bear in mind that it would make more sense if I was there giving the talk.

11. DCU

I haven’t been to a bank in over 2 years, and this app is the reason why. Digital Credit Union’s Mobile Branch PC, allows me to deposit checks from patients via my iphone.  Just login, scan the checks, and in 10 minutes you’ve done your deposits for the week.  Meanwhile, the online interface allows you to keep track of your spending easily and export to Excel or accounting software if you need to.  Great for tax season!

12. Dropbox

Dropbox is a great and free way to store non-private information on the cloud.  The app allows you to email items easily, so I use it to email intake instructions to patients, press kits to people inquiring about keynotes, and a number of other items.  I also keep all my DBT worksheets on it so that they can be sent quickly and easily to patients should they be feeling in need of extra support between sessions but not acute enough to warrant hospitalization.

13. TED

This app allows you to stay inspired and experience innovation daily, by beaming TED talks to your mobile device from the offical TED site.  You can favorite, search, and share your favorite ones, or hit “Inspire me” for random ideas.  As I wrote this, I was listening to Amanda Palmer speak on “The art of asking.”  This app can allow you access to ideas outside of the filtered professional bubble with therapists often get ourselves stuck in.

14. Line2

Want a second phone line on your iPhone? This app allows you to have one. You can port your practice number to it, and stop carrying two cell phones. At $9.95 a month you can have unlimited US/Canada calling, at $14.95 a month you get a toll-free number and virtual fax.

15. Micromedex

Keeping up-to-date on medications is pretty daunting, but this app, with frequent updates, helps you keep track od a medication, its Black Box warnings, contraindications, drug interactions, adverse effects, alternate names, standard dosages and more. And now for some games!

16. Plants Vs. Zombies

This game is great for helping patients who want to learn about strategy and pacing.  Choose a certain number of plant types to plant in order to stop the zombies from overrunning your backyard.

17. Zombies, Run!

Continuing my zombie kick, this game is better than any pedometer I’ve ever used.  The more you walk or run, the further you progress in this game of fleeing zombies.  Go on multiple missions, play with friends, and even train for a 5K.

18. Kingdom Rush

This game is a classic tower defense game, which helps patients learn to make choices, control impulse spending as part of a winning strategy, and work on pacing, problem-solving and a host of other cognitive abilities.

19. Minecraft Pocket Edition

This mobile app version of Minecraft is a great way to connect with a patient’s gaming, and the app allows you to play together on a wireless LAN, so you can fight for survival or create an amazing construction right from your office together.

20. Flower Chain

This is a completely nonviolent game that focuses on setting up a chain reaction of flower blooms in order to complete each level.  Great eye candy, and a fun game for clearing the mind after a difficult session.

21. Trainyard

This puzzle game requires you to plan out and design multiple railroad tracks.  The trick is to set them up and pace them so that they all meet their goals without running into each other.  Great prompt for talking with adolescents about how they can learn to negotiate peer relationships in the same way, or learn to compromise with adults in order to get along with them.

22. Lavalanche

This puzzle game is reminiscent of Jenga, in that you have to dismantle a tower without letting the Tiki Idol fall into lava.  Another great one for executive function capacity-building around sequencing, planning and problem-solving.

So there you go, give some of these a try and let me know what you think.  Have a favorite app that you want to share?  Please feel free to comment and include the link.

Top 5 Places To Read Reviews Before You Download An App

Mobile technology has placed the power to shape our lives in the palm of our hands. Today, people are heavily reliant on their mobile phones/ tablets for rudimentary, as well as more complex day-to-day functions.

App stores are swarming with mobile apps of all shapes and sizes that promise a great deal of value to users. According to an estimate, 50,061 apps were added to app stores this month alone, taking the total number of active apps to an astonishing 3,047,527.

However, this growing number of apps is by no means an indicator of service quality as many of these seemingly revolutionary apps prove completely useless once you download them. 88% of online shoppers are known to rely on online reviews to help them in their pre-purchase analysis. While there are plenty of app review websites, many are thought to be influenced by app manufacturers.

So, where can you access factual and unbiased app reviews when deciding on an app? Here we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 most reliable app review websites based on a strong Alexa rank, number of Facebook and Twitter followers as well as domain authority to help you identify the best app for your need:

1. CNET

CNET hosts the world’s largest repository of tech reviews containing unbiased editorial analysis and ratings for upcoming apps. These reviews owe their popularity to their timing as well as authenticity as CNET publishes detailed editorial reviews as soon as an app hits the market. These introductory reviews are then followed by timely updates like this one from AirG industry that changes throughout the app’s lifecycle including potential recalls or the launch of a competing app.

CNET also offers news and recommendations pertaining to high performing apps, thus readers can easily judge which app will give the most value for time and money. The recommendations made on the website are the result of a strict editorial process based on years of research and experience.

This entails detailed analysis and testing by CNET’s editors and lab staff as well as feedback from users and manufacturers. Their testing methodology is based on accepted industry benchmarks and provides qualitative results as well as comparative data that feed their technical reviews. Coupled with input from expert editors, these reviews give you pretty much everything you need to know to make an informed decision.

2. Business Insider

Business Insider is a German-owned news website that has one of the strongest tech journalist team in the world. It is among the most reliable and popular platforms for reading app reviews. The dependability of app reviews on BI can be gauged by the fact that their tech videos receive a whopping 500 million views per month.

Since BI is a news website, their reviews are usually placed under click-bait and hyperbolic headlines which make them all the more compelling to read. These reviews are published after in-house testing and analysis, incorporating all essential aspects including design, usability, performance, speed and functionality.

3. The Telegraph

The Telegraph is England’s national daily newspaper that has gained worldwide acclaim for providing reliable app reviews on its website. You can find in depth analysis, recommendations as well user-generated comments on the website pertaining to a plethora of applications.

The Telegraph updates content on a daily basis, whereas their app reviews are accessible in their archives. The content of these reviews is highly dependable, much in line with the reputation of their brand and therefore you can easily rely on them while making purchase decisions.

4. Mashable

Mashable is a world renowned multi-platform media and entertainment company that is a go-to destination for tech-related content. The app reviews published at Mashable distinguish themselves by being extremely detailed and fact-based.

They provide you specific information to help you contemplate how using a certain app will be like. These reviews provide you meticulous understanding regarding all aspects of an app, both on its own, as well as in comparison with other apps in the market. Moreover, the website offers lists of most popular apps to help you identify the best app for your needs.

5. Techcrunch

Techcrunch provides the latest technology news and information about tech startups. It hosts engaging app review videos that walk you through all crucial elements of an app’s performance.

These videos are much more effective than written reviews, as they provide analysis by technology experts alongside personal experiences from users in order to help you understand the workings of an application in detail. They also enable you to take optimum advantage of apps by walking you through their features and highlighting their applicability

A brief glance at these websites will not only enlighten you with an app’s performance, but also provide you with helpful tips, enabling you to pick the very best of the lot.

5 Apps to Take Care of Your Mental Health

We take great measures to look after our physical and emotional health – eating vegan, exercising, getting therapy and more. But, what we often forget is that taking care of our mental health is just as important. Good mental health strengthens and supports our ability to have healthy relationships, make good life choices, maintain physical health and well-being, handle the natural ups and downs of life and discover and grow towards our potential.

As the occurrence of dysfunctional behavior like depression and uneasiness increases amongst adults, clinicians have moved to mobile applications as a technique to help their patients. These applications can be equally useful for teenagers and adults experiencing dysfunctional behavior because of their constant use of technology.

Mental health apps help users by providing relevant information and techniques of coping with mental stress, anxiety and other disorders. Seeking professional care is the course of action you should take,in the case of a mental disorder, but these apps can be cohesive with a complete mental wellness plan.

The applications can be useful as an approach to connect with individuals who might be unwilling to go into therapy. Specialists trust that these applications will work best when integrated with personal therapy and medication.

Here are 5 best mental health apps that help look after your psychological wellbeing and make you feel great from the inside out.

1. Optimism

Optimism is a group of applications that tracks emotions and mental wellness of a user on a regular basis. The self-tracking app is designed to enhance the users’ understanding of the constituents that have a huge influence on a person’s mental health.

The main purpose of the app is to assist users in keeping mental illnesses such as dementia, anxiety and depression at bay. The app helps users identify mood patterns and then develops a wellness plan that manages bipolar disorder, depression, stress, anxiety and other serious mental health concerns.

Key features of the app include developing and monitoring strategies, customized according to the users’ preferences to help maintain good health. It helps in understanding the ‘triggers’ that are early warning signs.

The Optimism self-tracking app charts and reports a feedback loop. It allows you to update your records as your circumstances change to help increase your self-understanding.

2. Breathe2Relax

Breathe2Relax is a mental health app designed to help people with stress. It offers breathing exercises that help reduce stress, stabilize moods and emotions. The app teaches users to practice breathing techniques to curtail overwhelming feelings.

The Breathe2Relax demonstrates breathing techniques and provides timed cycles for inhaling and exhaling. These can be personalized to cater to unique breathing patterns of every individual.

The app also features a wide collection of soothing music to help with your breathing cycles. Users insert their levels of stress before and after finishing a breathing cycle and the responses are tracked on a graph for analysis and comparison over a period of time. The app is a must try for all users of ages 6 and above. Breathe2Relax is available on both iOS and Android.

3. Smiling Mind

Smiling Mind meditation is a non-profit website featuring an effective meditation program designed by educators and psychologists to help add mindfulness into people’s lives. The personalized meditation app delivers meditation exercises on the basis of age.

According to their website, Smiling Mind exists to help build individual mental health and wellbeing through positive, pre-emptive tools based on mindfulness meditation. The app is best suited for beginners and teenagers. The app was created with an aim to bring a balance into your life and put a smile on your face no matter where you are.

4. Super Better 

Super Better mental wellness app has helped over half a million people accomplish personal growth and handle challenges that life has thrown at them. The app helps users develop personal flexibility and tools to creatively manage their problems.

The app has been designed after detailed consultations with medical researchers, psychologists, scientists and doctors. Super Better mental wellness gaming app is basically a video game that helps users create their own quests and gain support from others when attempting to defeat the enemies.

Several people use and rely on Super Better app all around the world and here are some reasons why:

  • To take up a new habit, learn new talents, enhance their aptitude, fortify relationships, accomplish a physical or athletic challenge, finish significant ventures, or go after a dream.
  • To beat despondency, conquer nervousness, adapt to unending sickness or constant agony, recuperate from physical damage, or recoup from post-traumatic anxiety.
  • To beat a persistent challenge like finding another employment opportunity, surviving separation, or lamenting the passing of a friend or family member.
  • To help other people: therapists prescribe Super Better to patients; college educators integrate Super Better into their coursework, life coaches refer the app to their clients while HR experts incorporate the app into the employee’s wellness incentive programs.

5. Headspace Meditation app

Headspace’s meditation app is an award winning application that helps you live a healthier and happier life with merely 10 minutes of daily guided meditation.

The app creates self-awareness with your thoughts and emotions; it even helps you calm down in times of stress. A straightforward teacher, the Headspace app helps you learn the very basics of visualization and breathing – two integral parts of meditation.

According to company reports, the app had over 8.5 million users until mid-2016, including Olympic athletes, Wall Street wolves and celebrity executives. Companies such as Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Goldman Sachs have bought subscriptions of the headspace app for their employees to help control increasing levels of stress at work.

Headspace Meditation app is free for download; however a subscription unravels complete access to all of the lessons.

Just like eating right and exercising to stay physically fit and healthy, incorporating mental exercises into your daily routine is important to sustain mental well-being and keep mental disorders like stress, anxiety and depression at bay. Most of these apps are available for both Androids & iOS in Google Play and Apple Store, respectively.

Which apps do you use to look after your mental health? Please let us know in the comments section below.

10 Apps That Can Impact And Change The World

The world needs to change and now the power to change the world is in your click. It is time you take control and participate in the betterment of world. Here are 10 apps that can impact the world and change it for the good of humankind and nature.

1. Tree Planet 2

The user grows, fertilizes, waters, and defends a virtual tree in this game. For every tree that is grown virtually on this app, a real tree is planted by the Korean company behind this app.

2. Dare to Donate

The app makes the users vote for their friends who would complete a dare in exchange for donation. It is free for charities and fundraisers.

3. HTC Power to Give

You can provide power to a scientific project of your taste by plugging your Android phone and connecting it to Wi-fi. The app adds your spare computing power to a grid that then provide power to research facilities.

4. Feedie

25 cents is donated to The Lunchbox Fund, a nonprofit company, which uses the money to provide meals to students across South Africa. All you have to do is take the photo of food served at one of the participating restaurant and share it on social media.

5. Leftover Swap

Using this app, the food givers take images of their left overs and post them on the app. Following which the volunteers organize a collection and give the left overs to the needy.

6. Charity Miles

This app makes your every step count, literally. It donates 10 cents per mile that you bike and 25 cents per mile that you have ran to a charity of your choice. All that you have to do is post your progress on social media.

7. The One

The app connects people globally for them to join hands to do ethical protesting and campaign.

8. Get Rich or Die Smoking

This app showcases the exact amount of currency that you can save by quitting cigarettes. It lists down the various things that you can buy from the all the money that you have now saved.

9. Give Work

This iPhone app links users with the refugees of Kenya so that they work alongside one another and complete short onscreen tasks. The app supports Samasource’s, the developer company, training programs by sourcing money and facilitates in identifying the skills it should impart.

10. Check in for Good

The participating business donates 1$ to a cause that you have chosen whenever you check in their premises. They also give you coupons and incentives to visit again.

While these are just these 10 apps that are listed here, which can change the world, there are many more apps and websites that can make it a better place. You just need to know where to look and then have the push to change the world.

Virtual Worlds: Are They Good or Bad for Children?

Sims-4-Go-To-School

Playing in online worlds is a growing phenomenon and children and young people are being exposed to many online games, social media apps and other community based platforms. Playing online appears to have many positive strength for children, from learning new social and communication skills that can have educational benefits for them in the future.

Lydia Plowman, Professor of Education and Technology at Edinburgh University, has commented children can learn through apps and games and how parents can obtain the benefits of technology. Plowman suggests that one of the key focuses in this learning is allowing children to explore through parental guidance, and part of this process is to allow children to make their own choices and decisions, Plowman refers to this as the ‘learning how to learn’.

What is a virtual world?

As discussed in previously, children and young people are spending a greater amount of time on social media platforms, online games, and online communities. However, for the purpose of this article it is important to have an understanding of what is meant by a ‘virtual world’.

Virtual worlds have a variety of different elements, for example:

  • It is an online computer animated 3D or 2D environment
  • A massively multiplayer online (MMO) experience
  • Interacts with others people in real life
  • Rules and guidance on how people effect the virtual world around them
  • Individual use ‘avatars’ or characters to represent themselves in the virtual world

To put it more simplistically, a virtual world is a platform where individuals can interact with each other, solve problems, explore and communicate with each other.

Here is a short list of virtual worlds you may be familiar with, please be aware there are many more:

  • Habbo Hotel
  • Moshi Monsters
  • Club Penguin
  • ourWorld
  • Fantage
  • Sims

In 2014, there were supposedly over 158 virtual worlds designed for young children, with the top three for primary-age being Club Penguin, Moshi Monsters and Habbo Hotel. It was found in AVG Digital Diaries in 2014, 6-9 years old who were surveyed found 46% spend their time playing an online virtual world.

Even though there are many online virtual worlds and massively multiplayer online games, parents and teachers feel allowing children into these environments can be dangerous, unsafe and damaging. Yet, throughout the course of this article we will be exploring some of the positive and negative aspects of online play.

The Positives

SW5As commented in the above, this new era of technology has allowed us to enter a new dimension of communication and learning, not just for children and young people, but also for adults.

This has been successfully achieved through the use of email, forums and social networks; but yet we can also connect in real time through Facebook messaging, texting and twitter tweets. We have a vase social community online and this can have profound implications for children’s social and emotional development not just online, but also offline.

The use of the immediate communication technology perhaps can support children and young people maintain friendships and family networks more effectively. In addition, parents will be able to gain deeper insight into their children’s lives through the use of this technology, (e.g. Facebook); in order to gain an understanding of their child’s lived experience. Face to face communication between young people and parents can pose challenges from time to time; therefore this technology can bridge the gap and loss in communication.

Dr. Jim Taylor comments digital communications can also enable young people who are shy engage in wider social environments and be able to find others with similar hobbies and interests within an online community, promoting young people to grow and be creative within this online environment. Johnson (2014) even suggested digital communication and online environments improves children and young people’s emotional connection and comments this teaches children to become more empathetic towards people rather than learning the traditional face to face methods.

The Negatives

As discussed previously, there is an array of positives to using online technologies to support children and young people’s social, emotional and educational development in a variety of different ways. However, this does not go without saying within their social communities children are certainly exposed to a wider range of people, material and risks.

The EU Kids online conducted a survey and found that many children have experienced some kind of cyberbullying, trolling and sexting. Furthermore, it was found 12% of 9-16 years olds were exposed to distressing images, (Livingstone et al, 2014, pg.6).

For instance, it has been suggested children who play violent video games and lead to more aggressive behaviour and this can have an impact on social interaction with others. Taylor (2013) however, does comment the research is unclear about the ‘direction of causality’. Meaning, it is inconclusive whether violent video games make children violent, or if naturally more violent children are attract to this genre of game. In addition, research has also suggested children who are exposed to digital networks to become more narcissistic, (Taylor 2013)

Mixed messages  

Throughout the course of this short blog, we have drawn upon some the positives and negatives of virtual worlds and some of the research that underpins this thinking. But what does this all mean? Well, it is clear virtual worlds are offering a rich source of new learning for children and young people that are certainly different from the traditional methods but has brought round positive outcomes for children and young people’s social, emotional, behavioural and educational wellbeing.

Nevertheless, it is important to highlight the problems and risks that technology and virtual worlds may bring. Parents, educators, social workers and other professionals have to clear understand of how children and young people are engaging in online social environments and how negative implications may emerge from them.

Where do you stand?

Even though this blog has been short, and there is certainly much more research and reading round this topic; I would like to take some reflection time to ask for your thoughts of the role of virtual social environments in the lives of children and young people.

It is certainly natural to not fear and the potential hazards that can be damaging; however is their room for positive learning and development to take place?

Further Reading, including research above.

Angela Barnes And Christine Laird – The Effects of Social Media on Children

The London School of Economics and Political Science – Risks of Safety on the internet

Young Children Consuming More Digital Media.

Are We Afraid of Developing Technology for the Elderly

I work for a hospice program providing palliative care which means we attend to the emotional and spiritual needs of terminally ill patients at an inpatient facility or at the patient’s home, and I see lots of people near the end of their life. Some of them are too lethargic to use an iPad, but many are not.

birdbeard-300x300Though all of my clients are dying, they are otherwise able to function normally for a person their age. Those who are not lethargic or in their last days often tell me how bored they are!

They speak about their inability to find anything that entertains them. So, I did a little research on the subject thinking “Well maybe a computer for older folks might help.” Turns out there are some, the options are not great, and I have yet to see one in an assisted living facility.

So why has Apple not attempted to make iPad adaptable to Seniors’ needs?

Personally, I want to be able to browse the internet when I am seventy, and I want to be able to keep up with the news when I have arthritis and can’t swipe properly. Below are some reasons why we don’t have it and why we are going to need it.

Generational Gap

The affordable personal computer came out in the 80’s which means those who grew up with computers are now just entering their early to mid 40’s. To everyone else, computers were new and confusing.  However, this doesn’t excuse the lack of technology for those who are older, but it does help to explain the lack of attention to this market.

Infantilization

In-fant-til-ize-a-tion: To treat or condescend as if still a young child

Would you let a baby play with your expensive iPhone? If the answer is yes, you have more money than I do. Most people are afraid their child will break their expensive toy. They are not wrong either most children will. We assume the same of older adults, that they will either break it out of frustration or will not be able to comprehend its use. Neither is true. There are many older adults who know how and enjoy using computers to entertain themselves

Denial

Likely the worst offender, we refuse to make these adaptations to technology because doing so would be admitting our own mortality. It would require acknowledgment that we will grow old and may eventually need these devices ourselves. Once we can admit we are growing older as a society more and more of these devices will be present.

That’s it for now, but I can’t wait for the Angry Bird’s senior edition to come out. In the comments below tell me about what you want on your computer when you are older!

Best Mood Charting Apps for Apple and Android

Frequently, therapists request clients to record their behaviors, triggers, and symptoms to help them become more aware of their reactions. These can include energy levels, medication taken, number of hours slept, anger outbursts, alcohol consumption, negative thoughts, etc.

Traditionally, this has been accomplished with notepad and pen, but it has proven to have low adherence rates to the regime and clients often have difficulty recalling the week in their therapy session. Self-monitoring “provides clinicians with a more contextualized understanding of patients’ struggles and an opportunity to tailor treatment accordingly.” Digital mood monitoring with smart phone apps offers a reliable and easy way for clients to track their symptoms themselves.

Since I’m cheap and I know you and your clients often are too, I chose to only review apps that are free. Here are the top 3 apps that showed the most promise reviewed from best to last.

T2 Mood Tracker 

Available in Google Play Store and Apple App Store for free

t2

 

T2 Mood Tracker was created by the National Center for Telehealth and Technology, and it is a very straight forward app. There are 6 categories that can be visible or hidden – anxiety, depression, general well-being, head injury, post-traumatic stress, and stress – with 10 anchors on sliders for each. Results are graphed on a simple line graph and reports can be created in PDF and CSV format as well as emailed straight from the app. A PIN can be added for security and a reminder can be set for 3 specific times during the day. I couldn’t figure out how to access notes or add/edit rating categories.

It is very straight forward and the email option as well as the well-informed anchors on each category look like it would be an excellent tool for therapists.

Personal Progress Tracker 

Available in Google Play Store and Apple App Store (as PTracker) for free

soundmindz

 

Progress Tracker must be registered online before using. In this account, you can add lots of info about yourself as well as access various other resources. This app is extremely comprehensive. The Symptoms tab gives prompts for all major symptoms of the following diagnoses: OCD, anxiety/panic disorders, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, addiction/substance abuse, ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, eating disorders, and insomnia. When a symptom is clicked it asks the user to give a rating (scales change from yes/no, number, low to high, etc) for the day as well as add optional notes. The user can add a custom symptom (“Custom Activity”), define the rating type, and under what category it goes.

The Activities tab allows for tracking of a number of things associated with mental health including medication taken, hours slept, stress level, exercise, drug and alcohol use, etc. There is, again, a place to add a custom section. The Reports tab allows for a variety of ways to run data. A detailed report gives all reported symptoms and activities for each day,. A summary report gives some basic statistics over a period of time, and you can also choose one symptom to focus on to see its change over time. Everything can be accessed and manipulated online and reports can be printed from there. Users can assign therapists who can access client reports online.

There are a few typos through the app, there is no way of sending reports from the phone but must be done from the computer, there is no reminder setting or security settings, which are big downfalls. It’s extremely comprehensive, which would be wonderfully helpful if the client were to fill it out completely, but I fear that many would be daunted by the enormity of it all and there is no way to hide unwanted categories.

ToadKing Mood Tracker

Available in Google Play Store for free

toadking

 

ToadKing is fantastically versatile. There is nothing preset, but the user must go into Edit Markers to create symptom, mood, activity, etc, categories. Once these are created (with the assistance of the user’s therapist, if applicable), data can be input on a 0-10 scale and notes can be added. Backlogs or editing previous days can be done with Modify Data. View History allows the user to generate text, line graph, or bar graph of individual markers for a month. From this screen the data can be emailed (or shared in any medium actually). Share Data on the main screen generates the chosen form and groups the text or graph images for each marker into a zip file when emailed.

This app requires the user (or therapist) to set it up before use, it doesn’t have a reminder or security features, and I would prefer if there were a way to change the rating type. However, it’s extremely versatile and so simple, making it easy to use.

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