Solid, simple tool kids can use to ask for help.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that notOK is a social health app for iOS and Android devices. While notOK at one time involved a cost, it's now free to use. To use the app, kids have to sign up for an account by entering their email address and phone number. Identifying their age, gender, and race are optional. They have to verify their account via email and a verification code. Kids will need to grant access to their contact list to add five people who will receive a text if they ever send an alert through the app. Kids will also need to OK the app accessing GPS capabilities to identify their location. The app's simple structure makes it easy to use. Although notOK's content isn't extensive, the app offers kids a way to ask for help and could encourage them to express their feelings.
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What’s It About?
NOTOK was created by a 15-year-old who developed anxiety and depression after becoming concerned she might faint while alone due to a medical condition. The app serves as a notification tool to alert friends and family in times of crisis. Kids can pre-select up to five contacts who'll receive their GPS location via text and can click on a link to say they're able to help. Kids can also tap on a button to tell people they're feeling better. Links to external resources, such as online mental health screening tests, are also offered.
Is It Any Good?
This app doesn't have any bells and whistles to entertain or engage kids -- but it offers them a simple way to reach out to people if they're struggling, and it's free to use. Fifteen-year-old Hannah Lucas, who'd developed anxiety and depression after being diagnosed with a medical condition that could cause her to faint, designed the notOK app with help from her brother, Charlie, based on an idea she had about being able to press a button to immediately let someone know she wasn't OK. Once kids register for it, they can add one to five contacts, who will receive an alert if kids tap on the button located on the app's homepage. The text message includes the person's name and says, "I'm notOK. Please call, text, or come check on me as soon as you can," with a link recipients can click on to indicate if they can respond. The app then displays a breathing exercise kids can utilize involving the words inhale, hold, and exhale.
The random quotes that appear beneath the location map in alerts feel somewhat out of place -- if kids are trying to communicate distress, a lighthearted comment from Audrey Hepburn about how much she loves chocolate cake, or one from Marilyn Monroe about shoes, could convey the wrong tone. In general, though, the app is a simple, yet clever concept -- which could help kids who aren't sure how to put their feelings into words or are uncomfortable reaching out directly to someone ask for help. There isn't much too content within the app, aside from the alert button that's shaped like a comic strip speech bubble. The only other items are a page with your account information, one where you can add contacts, and a short list of mental health resources -- comprised of a few links to hotlines and a link to online PTSD and other screening tests on nonprofit association Mental Health America's website. More information on dealing with anxiety or depression would be great -- but even without it, as a free, easy-to-use notification service, notOK can be a beneficial resource for kids to have on hand.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the reasons why you might use notOK. What are a few scenarios where someone could or should ask for help?
How should you reach if friends say they're going through something difficult? Are there instances when kids should bring an adult into the conversation?
Does your child have a hard time asking for help? Discuss some ways to talk about your feelings -- and the positive outcomes that can produce.
- Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
- Pricing structure: Free
- Release date: February 13, 2021
- Category: Health & Fitness
- Publisher: Bee & Bug
- Version: 1.4.5
- Minimum software requirements: Requires iOS 10 or later or Android 4.4 and up.
- Last updated: March 18, 2023
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