Forest: Stay focused, be present

App review by
Ashley Kemper, Common Sense Media
Forest: Stay focused, be present App Poster Image
Watch focus grow, have real-world impact with visual tool.

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Kids say

age 15+
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The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn important time-management techniques, including limiting screen time and actively engaging in real-time experiences. By accumulating larger forests, kids can easily see their increased time spent engaging in various activities, and they can practice working without distractions. Once users accumulate 2,500 coins, the developer will make a donation of a live tree to Trees for the Future, which roots the app even more deeply in the real world. For kids, teens, and grown-ups who are ready to fight phone distraction, Forest: Stay focused, be present is a helpful tool with appealing incentives.

Ease of Play

Easy to use and get started quickly.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Forest: Stay focused, be present is a productivity tool designed to help users stay off their devices and fully engage with the task at hand. Though it's designed for people who have their own devices, parents can use the app as a timer for younger kids as well. As a timer runs down, a tree or shrub grows: If users click out of the app, the tree dies, and all trees become part of a long-term forest. Users can connect using social media or usernames and can combine their earned coins to plant real trees for farmers in developing nations through Trees for the Future. Because users can create a list of approved apps, it's an app for people who truly want to avoid distraction. Also, kids who perseverate might feel the need to check the tree's progress, which will defeat the purpose. Read the app's privacy policy to find out about the information collected and shared.

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What's it about?

FOREST: STAY FOCUSED, BE PRESENT has a sliding scale to let users select an amount of time -- 10 minutes to two hours -- to grow a virtual shrub or tree. Once users click "plant" on their mobile or Web device, they can't use other apps unless they're on a list the user creates. While the tree grows, the app displays encouraging notes above the growing tree, such as "Go back to your work" and "Plant a tree and get things done." If you click out of the app, a notification is sent to remind you that the tree will die, and all trees are kept in a user's forest, giving them a visual representation of how successful they were. Users can reflect on how they spent their time via categories such as work, sports, social engagements, or rest and can share their data through the app or social media. In addition to collecting trees in their forest, kids can collect coins for successfully growing trees; coins can be used to unlock new kinds of trees (flower trees, lemon trees, a tree house) or to donate a real tree to a sustainable farm in a developing country.

Is it any good?

The visual representation of time as a growing tree is creative and beautiful, and the rewards for successfully staying off your mobile device may entice kids and teens to do it independently. For kids who may feel the need to constantly check on the progress of their tree or kids who add distracting apps to their "approved" list, it may backfire; however, for kids who are motivated by the reward system provided, it may be a great introduction to time management and beginning the conversation of balancing technology and real-world experiences. As if that wasn't reason enough to use it, the connection with the Trees for the Future initiative doubles the positive effects of putting down mobile devices: the ability to reflect on how kids' time is spent and having a lasting impact on sustainable farms in developing countries.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the importance of balancing screen time and real time. Create a competition among family members to see who can grow the biggest forest, and connect accounts to donate the planting of a real tree to a family in a developing country.

  • Talk about the ways phones can be distracting. Which apps do you find yourself checking when you're trying to get something done? Are certain activities more distracting than others?

  • Be a good role model around device use. Make sure to stop looking at a screen when you're interacting with your kids and try to illustrate how to stay focused on one thing at a time.

App details

  • Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
  • Skills: Self-Direction: goal-setting, self-assessment, time management, working efficiently
  • Price: 1.99
  • Pricing structure: Paid
  • Release date: March 15, 2016
  • Category: Productivity
  • Size: 23.00 MB
  • Publisher: ShaoKan Pi
  • Version: 3.11
  • Minimum software requirements: 8.0
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

Our editors recommend

For kids who love time-management and homework help

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