If you want to turn screen time into a productive opportunity to promote skills, there are apps that can double as fun and educational. Not only can your child independently engage in these games, the content can allow for parent-child interactions to strengthen the child’s comprehension of the material and help them translate these principals into real-life practice.
Top 5 Apps to Promote Social Skills:
- Model Me Kids: This app provides a variety of social stories to help prepare children for what behaviors are expected based on setting. If your child struggles with transitions or how to modify behaviors based on the social context, this app is a great tool to walk your child through ways they can communicate their needs, anticipate outcomes, and reduce anxiety about the unknown. The parent can sit down with their child, review the social stories, and process how their particular visit to the hairdresser, mall, or playground can go based on real-life expectations and what the child can say or do in their own specific experience.
- Social Skills Play: This app allows the child to view and/or participate in dialogue about how to effectively interact with peers. Various play-based scenarios are presented and the child can determine if the interaction between characters are positive or negative. If the communication was negative (i.e. the character was inflexible or insensitive), the parent can process with the child what a better choice could have been that that the character could have initiated. This intervention targets social-communication and helps children determine positive and negative choices when asserting their thoughts and needs.
- What Would You Do at School If… Fun Deck: This app presents various school-based scenarios and allows your child to practice effective problem-solving skills to negotiate frustrating or non-preferred situations while at school. This concept calls attention to the fact that the strategies a child might use to resolve a problem in the context of their home environment may be different than what they can do at school (i.e. the child might be able to do more negotiation in a more flexible structure, whereas their ability to solve problems in a fixed structure like school may look different). Here, the parent can also collaborate with child to come up with more than one solution to a perceived problem so that the child has multiple tools to prevent conflict and negative feedback.
- Choiceworks: This app provides a visual schedule inclusive of a timer and choices to help the child manage routine and communicate thoughts and feelings appropriately. The parent can sit down with the child and add various tasks to the schedule, set a designated time for task completion, and the child can identify positive coping strategies to help them get through non-preferred tasks or demands. Instead of crying or refusing to engage in task, the child can identify alternative coping strategies to regulate mood and enhance behavioral compliance.
- Zones of Regulation: This app allows the child to enhance mood and behavior regulation through a color-coding system. The various colors represent different levels of emotion and the child can gain recognition of triggers and associated physiological responses to anger. The child can then learn to appropriately evaluate the size and severity of problems and identify calming, self-soothing strategies to reduce upset emotion. The parents can then assist their child to develop problem-solving strategies to resolve the presented issue. Additionally, the parent can help enhance the child’s social thinking skills by asking the child how they think other people would respond to their negative reactions and how this could impact their future social interactions. Developing positive choices when feeling upset can also lead to the enhancement of pro-social decisions.