Good screen, bad screen: Addressing parents’ concerns about mHealth solutions

by Anna Suarez @ 26.10.2018

Good screen, bad screen: Addressing parents’ concerns about mHealth solutions

Why do parents often hesitate before providing mobile health treatment for their children? Here we address 5 common concerns.

All parents want the best for their children. So when a child gets a serious diagnosis, they are usually ready to provide any treatment and support available. However, novel solutions are often met with caution. Particularly, parents hesitate to use mobile health (mHealth) services. Why? Let’s see 5 common concerns:

1. mHealth means more screen time per day, which is bad for eyesight.

  • Indeed, that’s a valid point. However, ophthalmologist agree that it’s not screen per se that is bad, but staring at one point instead of refocusing on objects at different distances that affects the eyesight. In this sense reading may be as bad as using the phone. Moreover, most mHealth solutions require just a short daily log in. For example, at Triumf kids have a daily challenge and they need to answer couple of questions about their mood and sleep, which wouldn’t take too long.

2. mHealth means more screen time per day, which means kids are not walking around/doing exercises, etc.

  • Nowadays people are more often leading sedentary lifestyle and kids are not exception. Actually, this is one of the main reasons for the rise of chronic illnesses in children in the first place. However, many mHealth solutions aim exactly to increase physical activity. There are many apps that include pedometer and encourage children to reach certain goals in amount of steps they make per day. At Triumf we are developing similar mechanisms which will be included in the game context.

3. mHealth means more screen time per day, which means kids are not playing or communicating with their friends and family

  • Although nothing can replace the face-to-face communication, it has already shifted to online world, whether we like it or not. Moreover, when children have a chronic illness, they might have to spend a lot of time in the hospital or may be otherwise restricted in their activities. Many mHealth solutions aim to connect children with the same diagnosis, so they could share their thoughts, worries and successes. At Triumf we aim to offer kids go on missions in the game together, see each other’s progress and exchange messages. Furthermore, we encourage family members to participate as well!

4. mHealth means more screen time per day, which means kids are not learning anything at that time.

  • Perhaps, that’s true if kids are spending time on social media or “pass time” type of games. However, mHealth solutions are generally created if not specifically for health education purposes, then usually explaining what is being done for their health in this particular app. At Triumf we believe that knowledge is power, so we included a strong gamified educational component which provides kids with information about their diagnosis, treatment, people around them, etc.

5. mHealth means more screen time per day, period. Screen is just bad, they’re already on their phones/tablets all the time.

  • Children truly spend a lot of time with their phones and tablets. Unfortunately, just prohibiting the screen might play out the opposite way, as the forbidden fruit is always sweeter. However, with mHealth solutions we can leverage the screen use to our advantage and provide kids with applications and games that would improve their health.