We’ve talked before about how difficult it can be to explain diabetes to your children and help them understand how to manage their disease. One strategy we didn’t go in depth about is turning your child’s diabetes care into a game to make it easier to live with and follow. In fact, the process of turning a less-than-fun routine or process into a game (or gamification, as it’s now being called) is revolutionizing the healthcare industry in a big way, and diabetes is no exception.
So why would anyone want to gamify diabetes, or any health condition for that matter? Well, besides making it much easier to explain to children and young adults, the process of gamification actually makes the condition easier to deal with for patients of all ages. Turning something routine and unpleasant into a fun game with challenges, achievements, and rewards can increase the likelihood of the person with diabetes sticking to their care regimen, and results in participants reporting a much higher quality of life and satisfaction with treatment.
Here are some of our favorite diabetes games to get your children to learn about diabetes and how to manage it better. And who knows, maybe you’ll even learn something!
Our absolute favorite diabetes app/game for children. We’ve already covered the adult version in a previous post about the best diabetes apps, but the kids’ version really deserves its own mention.
The app features a beautiful and whimsical “diabetes monster” that children tame by following good diabetes management practices. What this mostly means is a fun way for your child to record notes that include their blood sugar, their meals and carb intake, insulin doses, and other little notes about their condition (including an adorable mood selection interface that lets your little ones choose how they’re feeling that day). Entering notes gets encouragement from the diabetes monster, and you can go back and review previous entries.
If that were all the app did, it would still be a great way to help your children manage their diabetes. What really elevates it above the competition, though, is the parent link feature. The app actually comes in two parts – one for your child and one for you. Whenever your child makes a new note or entry, the information is sent over to your phone so you can keep an eye on how your little one is doing. It also has great features like the ability to take a photo of food and send it to the parental app to get help with estimating carb counts. Once you review your child’s information, you can then send back a note of your own.
Overall, mySugr Junior is probably the best game app for children learning how to manage their own diabetes. Between the great interface, the ease of use, and the parental reporting features, this a great choice both for parents and for children.
This series of games, put together by Medtronic and hosted by Lenny, the lion with Type 1 Diabetes, is focused around teaching children to accurately count the carbs that they are consuming. The games are broken down into four separate sections – Carb or No Carb?, Compare the Carbs!, Guess the Carb!, and Build A Meal!
The games are more educational and less about training children for day-to-day management like the mySugr app. Still, they do offer a great resource for teaching children about what a carb is, and what the likely carb values of many common foods are.
On top of the games, the website also has fun activities for children of all ages, and a great food carb reference guide built around the kinds of foods that children love to eat.
This is one to watch, as it’s not released publicly yet. Like mySugr Junior, Monster Manor is a combination game and logging app for children with Type 1 diabetes. The premise is simple – children enter their blood glucose (and other) stats, and are rewarded with pinatas. These pinatas contain fun treats like “beanz” that let your kids grow and manage new monsters in their own manor, or gold that lets them buy pets and accessories for their monsters.
The app integrates with BlueLoop, the diabetes tracking and monitoring app, for an easy tracking interface. It also includes all of the parental notification options that mySugr Junior has. One really cool feature gives parents the option to send their children an extra-special pinata once per day that includes better items. This is a great way for parents to stay involved and encouraging in their children’s diabetes management.