In the United States, 68% of children do not get the recommended nine hours of sleep, which can lead to many negative health outcomes (e.g., mental health). Mindfulness meditation mobile apps may be an option for improving children’s sleep and mental health outcomes; however, there is limited research on how children across different ages access these types of apps, the content they prefer, and the benefits they experience.
The purpose of this study was to describe parents’ reports of how and why their children use the Calm mindfulness meditation app and how using Calm may impact their sleep and mental well-being across age and gender.
This study was a cross-sectional survey of Calm subscribers (N = 2437) with children who used Calm. Participants were asked how their child accessed content, why their child used Calm, and the benefits of Calm for their child’s sleep and mental well-being.
Approximately half of the parents reported that they used Calm with their child. Older children (13–17 years) were more likely to use Calm independently, preferred content outside of Calm Kids, and were more likely to use Calm to manage emotions. Younger children (2–12 years) most commonly used Calm with their parents and on a parent’s device and preferred Calm Kids Sleep Stories.
To our knowledge, this is the first study to explore parents’ perceptions of children’s use of a commercial mindfulness meditation app across ages. Children use Calm differently based on their.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Anggerainy, S. W., Wanda, D., & Nurhaeni, N. (2019). Music therapy and story telling: Nursing interventions to improve sleep in hospitalized children. Comprehensive Child and Adolescent Nursing, 42(sup1), 82–89. https://doi.org/10.1080/24694193.2019.1578299
Auxer, B., Anderson, M., Perrin, A., & Turner, E. (2020b). Parenting kids in the age of screens, social media and digital devices. Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2020/07/28/parenting-children-in-the-age-of-screens/
Auxer, B., Anderson, M., Perrin, A., & Turner, E. (2020a). Children’s engagement with digital devices, screen time. Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2020/07/28/childrens-engagement-with-digital-devices-screen-time/
Black, L. I., Barnes, P. M., Clarke, T. C., Stussman, B. J., & Nahin, R. L. (2018). Use of yoga, meditation, and chiropractors among U.S. children aged 4-17 years. In NCHS data brief (Issue 324). https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db324_table-508.pdf#3
Boe, J. L., & Woods, R. J. (2018). Parents’ influence on infants’ gender-typed toy preferences. Sex Roles, 79(5–6), 358–373. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-017-0858-4
Broekman, F. L., Piotrowski, J. T., Beentjes, H. W. J., & Valkenburg, P. M. (2018). App features that fulfill parents’ needs in apps for children. Mobile Media and Communication, 6(3), 367–389. https://doi.org/10.1177/2050157918759571
Buijs, M. (2021). 10 Recommended meditation for sleep apps to drastically improve sleep. https://www.lifehack.org/790151/meditation-for-sleep-apps
Burke, C. A. (2010). Mindfulness-based approaches with children and adolescents: A preliminary review of current research in an emergent field. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 19(2), 133–144. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-009-9282-x
Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). CDC-data and statistics-sleep and sleep disorders. In Sleep (p. 1). https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/data_statistics.html
CDC. (2020). Data and statistics on children’s mental health | CDC. National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. https://www.cdc.gov/childrensmentalhealth/data.html
Chiesa, A. (2010). Vipassana meditation: Systematic review of current evidence. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 16(1), 37–46. https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2009.0362
de Almeida Andrade, F., & Schlechta Portella, C. F. (2018). Research methods in complementary and alternative medicine: An integrative review. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 16(1), 6–13. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.joim.2017.12.001
Dunning, D. L., Griffiths, K., Kuyken, W., Crane, C., Foulkes, L., Parker, J., & Dalgleish, T. (2019). Research review: The effects of mindfulness-based interventions on cognition and mental health in children and adolescents—A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 60(3), 244–258. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcpp.12980
Ernst, E. (2000). The role of complementary and alternative medicine. British Medical Journal, 321(7269), 1133–1135. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.321.7269.1133
France, K. G., McLay, L. K., Hunter, J. E., & France, M. L. S. (2018). Empirical research evaluating the effects of non-traditional approaches to enhancing sleep in typical and clinical children and young people. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 39, 69–81. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smrv.2017.07.004
Gregory, A. M., Caspi, A., Eley, T. C., Moffitt, T. E., O’Connor, T. G., & Poulton, R. (2005). Prospective longitudinal associations between persistent sleep problems in childhood and anxiety and depression disorders in adulthood. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 33(2), 157–163. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-005-1824-0
Grist, R., Porter, J., & Stallard, P. (2017). Mental health mobile apps for preadolescents and adolescents: A systematic review. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 19(5), e176. https://doi.org/10.2196/jmir.7332
Halim, M. L., Ruble, D. N., Tamis-LeMonda, C. S., Zosuls, K. M., Lurye, L. E., & Greulich, F. K. (2014). Pink frilly dresses and the avoidance of all things “girly”: Children’s appearance rigidity and cognitive theories of gender development. Developmental Psychology, 50(4), 1091–1101. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0034906
Henderson, J. A., & Jordan, S. S. (2010). Development and preliminary evaluation of the bedtime routines questionnaire. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 32(2), 271–280. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10862-009-9143-3
Hollis, C., Falconer, C. J., Martin, J. L., Whittington, C., Stockton, S., Glazebrook, C., & Davies, E. B. (2017). Annual research review: Digital health interventions for children and young people with mental health problems—A systematic and meta-review. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 58(4), 474–503. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcpp.12663
Kabat-Zinn, J. (2003). Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). PsycNET. Constructivism in the Human Sciences. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2004-19791-008
Kamenetz, A. (2019). New survey examines phone, media use among U.S. teens and children : NPR. NPR. https://www.npr.org/2019/10/31/774838891/its-a-smartphone-life-more-than-half-of-u-s-children-now-have-one
Kenny, R., Dooley, B., & Fitzgerald, A. (2016). Developing mental health mobile apps: Exploring adolescents’ perspectives. Health Informatics Journal, 22(2), 265–275. https://doi.org/10.1177/1460458214555041
Leger, D., Beck, F., Richard, J. B., & Godeau, E. (2012). Total sleep time severely drops during adolescence. PLoS ONE, 7(10), 7–12. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0045204
Lin, J., Chadi, N., & Shrier, L. (2019). Mindfulness-based interventions for adolescent health. Current Opinion in Pediatrics, 31(4), 469–475. https://doi.org/10.1097/MOP.0000000000000760
Liverpool, S., Mota, C. P., Sales, C. M. D., Čuš, A., Carletto, S., Hancheva, C., Sousa, S., Cerón, S. C., Moreno-Peral, P., Pietrabissa, G., Moltrecht, B., Ulberg, R., Ferreira, N., & Edbrooke-Childs, J. (2020). Engaging children and young people in digital mental health interventions: Systematic review of modes of delivery, facilitators, and barriers. Journal of Medical Internet Research. https://doi.org/10.2196/16317
Medic, G., Wille, M., & Hemels, M. E. H. (2017). Short- and long-term health consequences of sleep disruption. Nature and Science of Sleep, 9, 151–161. https://doi.org/10.2147/NSS.S134864
Moturi, S., & Avis, K. (2010). Assessment and treatment of common pediatric sleep disorders. Psychiatry (Edgemont). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20622943/
Nunes, A., Castro, S. L., & Limpo, T. (2020). A review of mindfulness-based apps for children. Mindfulness, 11(9), 2089–2101. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-020-01410-w
Owens, J., Au, R., Carskadon, M., Millman, R., Wolfson, A., Braverman, P. K., Adelman, W. P., Breuner, C. C., Levine, D. A., Marcell, A. V., Murray, P. J., & O’Brien, R. F. (2014). Insufficient sleep in adolescents and young adults: An update on causes and consequences. Pediatrics, 134(3), e921–e932. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2014-1696
Paiva, T., Gaspar, T., & Matos, M. G. (2015). Sleep deprivation in adolescents: Correlations with health complaints and health-related quality of life. Sleep Medicine, 16(4), 521–527. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sleep.2014.10.010
Punukollu, M., & Marques, M. (2019). Use of mobile apps and technologies in child and adolescent mental health: A systematic review. Evidence-Based Mental Health, 22(4), 161–166. https://doi.org/10.1136/ebmental-2019-300093
Puzia, M., Laird, B., Green, J., & Huberty, J. (2020). Parents’ perceptions of their children’s engagement in a consumer-based meditation mobile app: Cross-sectional survey study. JMIR Pediatrics and Parenting, 3(2), e24536. https://doi.org/10.2196/24536
Randolph, K., Fincham, F., & Radey, M. (2009). A framework for engaging parents in prevention. Journal of Family Social Work, 12(1), 56–72. https://doi.org/10.1080/10522150802654278
Katherine Schaeffer. (2019). Most U.S. teens who use cellphones do it to pass time, connect with others, learn new things. Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/08/23/most-u-s-teens-who-use-cellphones-do-it-to-pass-time-connect-with-others-learn-new-things/
Serbin, L. A., Poulin-Dubois, D., Colburne, K. A., Sen, M. G., & Eichestedt, J. A. (2001). Gender stereotyping in infancy: Visual preferences for and knowledge of gender-stereortyped toys in the second year. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 25(1), 7–15. https://doi.org/10.1080/01650250042000078
Short, M. A., Booth, S. A., Omar, O., Ostlundh, L., & Arora, T. (2020). The relationship between sleep duration and mood in adolescents: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 52, 101311. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smrv.2020.101311
Talker, I., Kaar, J. L., & Simon, S. L. (2020). 0982 Content analysis of the features and claims of smartphone applications for children’s sleep. Sleep, 43(1), A373–A373. https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/zsaa056.978
Tarokh, L., Saletin, J. M., & Carskadon, M. A. (2016). Sleep in adolescence: Physiology, cognition and mental health. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 70, 182–188. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2016.08.008
Vohra, S., Kemper, K. J., & Walls, R. (2008). The use of complementary and alternative medicine in pediatrics. Pediatrics, 122(6), 1374–1386. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2008-2173
Wang, B., Isensee, C., Becker, A., Wong, J., Eastwood, P. R., Huang, R. C., Runions, K. C., Stewart, R. M., Meyer, T., Brüni, L., Zepf, F. D., & Rothenberger, A. (2016). Developmental trajectories of sleep problems from childhood to adolescence both predict and are predicted by emotional and behavioral problems. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 1–13. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01874
Weekly, T., Walker, N., Beck, J., Akers, S., & Weaver, M. (2018). A review of apps for calming, relaxation, and mindfulness interventions for pediatric palliative care patients. Children, 5(2), 16. https://doi.org/10.3390/children5020016
Wheaton, A. G., Olsen, E. O., Miller, G. F., & Croft, J. B. (2016). Sleep duration and injury-related risk behaviors among high school students—United States, 2007–2013. MMWR Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 65(13), 337–341. https://doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6513a1
Williamson, A. A., Mindell, J. A., Hiscock, H., & Quach, J. (2020). Longitudinal sleep problem trajectories are associated with multiple impairments in child well-being. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 61(10), 1092–1103. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcpp.13303
Wilson, N. A., Kenny, M. A., & Peña, A. S. (2020). Role of meditation to improve children’s health: Time to look at other strategies. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health. https://doi.org/10.1111/jpc.15275
Zeidman, A. (2021). The best sleep apps for kids featuring songs, stories & meditations|Fatherly. https://www.fatherly.com/gear/best-sleep-apps-kids/
Zelazo, P. D., & Lyons, K. E. (2012). The potential benefits of mindfulness training in early childhood: A developmental social cognitive neuroscience perspective. Child Development Perspectives, 6(2), 154–160. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1750-8606.2012.00241.x
Zhang, J., Paksarian, D., Lamers, F., Hickie, I. B., He, J., & Merikangas, K. R. (2017). Sleep patterns and mental health correlates in US adolescents. Journal of Pediatrics, 182, 137–143. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpeds.2016.11.007
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.
Rights and permissions
About this article
Cite this article
Neher, T., Green, J., Puzia, M. et al. Describing the Use of a Mindfulness-Based App for Sleep and Mental Well-Being, Across Age, in Children. Child Youth Care Forum 51, 749–768 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10566-021-09651-z
- Children mhealth
- Kids mobile apps
- Mobile apps
- Mindfulness meditation app