This post: 6 Killer Apps to Help Your Teen Stay Focused and Block Distractions
Written by: Marybeth Bock
Your daughter came home from school completely stressed out about a big test she has the next day, but when you popped your head in her bedroom to check on her, she wasn’t studying… she was talking on the phone with her bestie, listening to music and scrolling through the latest TikTok videos.
Distraction… it happens to be one of the biggest challenges kids face today and the one thing that holds the power to derail their thoughts and efforts.
It’s not just cell phones that are robbing our kids of their potential – it’s every other form of technology, including desktops, laptops, big screens, and iPads.
In fact, our kids have become so accustomed to immediately responding to every ding, ping and ring on their devices that when it’s time for them to focus on something important like homework, studying for a big exam, or simply having a thoughtful conversation with someone, it can be nearly impossible for them to remain on task.
The good news is, there are ways we can help our teens set healthy boundaries when it comes to the endless distractions they’re faced with. If your teen can’t seem to stay focused and gets lured into their favorite video game, scrolling through Instagram or checking phone notifications, here are 6 killer apps that can help your teen stay focused and block distractions.
6 Killer Apps That Can Help Your Teen Stay Focused and Block Distractions
#1 Flipd – Focus & Study Timer
Flipd is a powerful app that can help motivate your teen to curb their phone use, limit distractions and become more productive. It’s basically a time tracking app and a social media productivity app all in one. The app has three main components – “Flipd Off” Time Tracker, Community Groups, and a Wellness Hub.
The Flipd Off Component allows users to track their study time and set goals to stay focused. The app also makes it easy to take a break and pause while offering “warnings” if the user becomes distracted and opens another app.
The Community Groups Component allows users to connect with others working toward similar goals (like studying, etc.) and they can compete with others to improve their “on task” ranking.
The Wellness Hub has a collection of over 30 different mindfulness resources such as guided meditations, therapeutic sounds, pep talks, and podcasts to help your teen de-stress and stay calm.
* Parents might enjoy the full lockdown feature which blocks access to social media and other apps for a time period set by the user. (Teens can still use text, phone, and email to communicate with family members.) Flipd is free to download and offers a premium subscription.
The cool thing about the Freedom app is that a user can block distractions on all of their devices simultaneously – both apps and websites – not just the one they’re currently using. So once a session is started on your teen’s desktop, for example, their phone distractions are also blocked. The user can set up as many blocklists as they like, and there’s a lockdown mode which makes it impossible to change any blocklist while active.
There are also optional focus sounds a user can choose from such as nature or coffee shop background noise. (Being in a noisy environment may seem counterintuitive to focus and productivity, but studies have shown that static sound, such as ambient noise, can actually boost productivity.) Users get an initial set of six free sessions. After that, it will cost about $6/month.
#3 LeechBlock NG (Next Generation)
LeechBlock NG is a simple productivity tool designed to block out those time-wasting sites that can suck the life out of our teen’s productivity. (You know, the ones that rhyme with “Blue Cube’, ‘Space Hook’, ‘Sticky Media’, ‘Quitter’, and the like.) All you teen needs to do is specify which sites to block and when to block them. And, the cool part is, you can specify up to 30 sets of sites to block, with different times and days for each set and you can block sites within fixed periods of time (e.g., between 6pm and 9pm).
For example, your teen can schedule 15 minutes of Instagram a day, or five minutes of Snapchat every hour between 5pm and 10pm. The only downside to LeechBlock NG is that it’s a browser extension – not an app – so a user can work around it if they switch browsers. If your teen can avoid that temptation, it can be a very helpful app! LeechBlock is FREE.
Forest is one of the best apps out there for curing phone addiction by helping users put their phone down so they can focus on what’s important in life. Your teen can actually earn credits by not using their phone and plant real trees (yep, real trees) around the world with the credits.
When your student is ready to do homework, study or they need to focus on something important, they simply open the app and “plant a seed in the forest.” While they’re focused on their work, the seed will grow into a tree. If they leave the app halfway through, their tree will wither and die (sad, right?). This is a great app for kids who need visual motivation to stay focused.
There’s also a “Plant Together” feature that can sync up several Forest accounts so your teen can challenge their friends to all work phone-free together for a designated time. If one person in the group uses their phone, everyone’s trees die. Price: $1.99 to buy, with optional in-app purchases available.
This science-backed app utilizes a cool approach with specially created music to help you focus and guide you into a mental state that is free of distraction.
The result is an app that provides access to patented functional music that produces something called “strong neural phase-locking” which means coordinated brain activity that boosts a user’s concentration level when they need it the most. This could be just the thing your teen needs for standardized test study sessions or cramming for final exams! A three-day trial is free – after that, it’s $6.99/month
This popular app has so many great features to keep your teen on task. It has a customizable Pomodoro-inspired timer that allows your teen to time-block periods of work and rest. (The Pomodoro technique encourages people to block their work time into 25-minute sessions of work with short breaks in between.)
The app also offers soothing sounds and app-blocking capabilities to reduce distractions. With repeating tasks and reminders, your teen can spend less time planning their schedule and more time working. Engross App is FREE.
Whatever your teen is constantly distracted by – whether it’s social media or their favorite video game – there’s an app that can help them focus and power through the important stuff they have to get done!
Marybeth Bock, MPH, is Mom to two young adults and one delightful hound dog. She has logged time as a military spouse, childbirth educator, college instructor, and freelance writer. She lives in Arizona and thoroughly enjoys research and writing – as long as iced coffee is involved. Her work can be found on numerous websites and in two books. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.