App Teaches Teens Mindfulness Skills

UA researcher Tami Turner has designed and is now testing a mobile app that trains teenagers on ways to adopt mindfulness techniques.
Nov. 12, 2015
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Individuals, especially those in the Tucson region, who are interested in learning more about the study should contact Tami Turner at 520-626-7112 or tamiturner@email.arizona.edu.

While mindfulness-based resources increasingly are offered for adults, adolescents have received less attention.

University of Arizona postdoctoral research associate Tami Turner has designed a mindfulness-based mobile app and is in the midst of a pilot study investigating the associated benefits for its users. 

"Kids generally need to know the 'why' behind things, and there also needs to be some relevance to their life and present story," said Turner, whose position is in the UA Department of Nutritional Sciences.

"But it's hard to find good resources for teens," said Turner, previously a high school science teacher.

Turner is the principal investigator on the project, B@ease Mindfulness App for Teens Study.   

Mindfulness is a state of consciousness in which individuals self-observe and experience the present moment without analysis or judgment. Research indicates that developing a mindfulness practice though any number of techniques — such as meditation, yoga or mindful breathing — can help reduce stress and anxiety, boost self-esteem and improve overall health.

The app Turner designed in collaboration with Vignet Inc., a Virginia-based digital health technology company, presents animation and videos that are intended to be "humorous, relatable and fun," encouraging teenagers to experiment with different techniques, she said.

Also, it is structured to provide simple ways to learn and incorporate mindfulness into daily life — in less than 10 minutes a day, she said.

As participants use the app, Turner tracks information related to how they interface with the technology. She also is capturing impressions on individual habits to test the usefulness of mindfulness techniques.

Turner said the initiative is a modified mindfulness-based program for teens, unlike many school-based and clinical programs, which tend to focus on psychological behaviors, such as performance, depression and eating disorders.

Teaching mindfulness to youth is especially attractive to Turner and other researchers and practitioners because it has the ability to address a broader range of issues.

"We all have the conscious ability to recognize we are having thoughts and feelings without being caught up in them," Turner said. "When you can get out of your head and into an objective state of being, you may experience benefits."