A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
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.
- Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, Windows Phone
- 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
For kids who love time-management and homework help
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.