, , , , , ,

App Aims To Teach Mindfulness, Minimize Middle-School Angst

Lawrence University Researcher Gets Grant To Study Adolescent Rumination Through Online App

teenagers, Facebook, social media, digital technology
A teenager uses a smartphone. AP Photo

Researchers at Lawrence University in Appleton are trying to head off teenage angst.

The school has received a federal grant to develop an app to address what is formally called “adolescent rumination.”

But rumination isn’t your typical teenage moodiness. Lori Hilt, an associate professor of psychology at Lawrence, said it can in fact lead to adult depression.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

She has received $368,196 from the National Institutes of Health for her program CARE, which is short for Child and Adolescent Research in Emotion. She and a team of student researchers will develop an online app that will teach children mindfulness in short sessions.

“What we are trying to see is if we deliver these exercises in really small bursts, anywhere from 1 minute to 10 minutes a few times a day, do you get a cumulative effect?” she said.

The app will focus on breathing and other mindfulness exercises. Hilt’s team is looking for 150 test participants between the ages of 12 and 15.

Because adolescent rumination can lead to depression in adulthood, Hilt said she believes jumping in early may have beneficial results as people age.

“We tried to have it be brief so kids could use it. And by kids we’re really thinking between 12-15 years,” Hilt said, adding the app “could be used by older adolescents as well. We tested it in college students and found it to also be helpful in that age range.”

Hilt would like to launch the app within two years.