Communication and assessment apps for use with children and young people

Why are such apps needed?

All professionals who work with children are expected to communicate with them regarding thoughts, feelings, symptoms and wishes. Sometimes this can be straightforward. However, it is often difficult – perhaps because the child is young, or the issues to be discussed are complex or distressing.

Using apps to aid communication can enhance rapport, structure and optimise communication and also accurately record and store results.

Even very young children feel very comfortable using touch-based devices and often prefer them to traditional drawing or paper and pencil-based activities.

What advantages are there of using apps to enhance communication and aid in assessment?

There are many advantages to using apps. Some of these relate to the child’s experiences, but others to the professionals’ experiences of using them.

  • Most existing communication tools and methods are rather cumbersome or difficult to use. New tablet and touchscreen technology allow images, text and drawing to be combined in extremely flexible and creative ways.
  • It is sometimes difficult for professionals to find a starting point in communication with children. A tablet-based app is something which can be easily introduced into a session wherever it may be. It can almost as easily be put away when it has achieved its goal – or attention can be switched to another app.
  • There is no need to manage a range of physical tools and materials like paper, pens, pencils, erasers, and workbooks. As long as the tablet is available, everything required is almost instantly accessible. and the eraser is never lost, the pens never run dry, and no one ever runs out of paper!
  • The ultimate goal of professionals working with children is often to talk about something personal & sensitive, or even distressing or painful. With traditional conversational approaches to exploring such issues, it is very often hard to switch from rapport-building to addressing the critical issue. Having a framework for doing so, is invaluable.
  • Children are comfortable with the technology, and often prefer using touch devices rather than traditional materials.
  • Paper and pencil assessments are often intimidating, particularly for less able children, or those lacking confidence.
  • Marks, messages and responses made using a touch device can be easily moved, modified and erased, so children are less likely to fear making a mistake.
  • Both qualitative and quantitative data generated during an assessment can be quickly and easily captured for later incorporation into professional reports or records.
  • The apps shape good practice and offer a framework within which standardised procedures can be implemented within a project or across an organisation/service.
  • Existing skills are not replaced or lost, they are actually enhanced by the ready availability of a variety of ways of exploring critical issues.

The Apps Team

The C&FT apps team are a multidisciplinary group of practitioners and academics from health, social care, forensic and educational backgrounds. They have over 20 years experience developing assessment and communication tools. They work together to create flexible and easy to use apps, designed to help professionals help children in a wide range of circumstances.

The touch based apps are the latest enhancement and refinement to well established techniques and tools used with children for many years.

Learn more about the apps team: