Technology for Anxiety and Stress in Kids and Teens

Technology for Anxiousness in Kids & Teens

Aug 11, 2020

Timothy Culbert, MD, IFMCP

There is a growing interest in using technology to make relaxation training more fun and engaging. Some have referred to these gadgets as electroceuticals. Below are three technologies that I suggest to my patients for anxiety management.

Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback

Heart rate variability (HRV) involves measuring the beat-to-beat variations in heart rate as it naturally speeds up and slows down throughout the day. A person can then actually see the changing HRV pattern on a computer screen or cell phone and learn to control it. Studies have found that when people are anxious, stressed or scared, their HRV pattern looks messy and disorganized. On the other hand, HRV patterns becomes more rhythmic, organized and regular  when strategies are used to shift into a calmer state. I recommend  the Inner Balance Smart Phone app and hardware for HRV practice.

Cranial Electrotherapeutic Stimulation 

Cranial electrotherapeutic stimulation (CES) is a form of nervous system stimulation that delivers a small, pulsed current via electrodes clipped on the earlobes or placed on the head. CES is used with the intention of treating a variety of conditions such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, and chronic pain.

The device is easy to use and comfortable; most people find that a 20 minute session in the morning for a few weeks, can set them up to feel more calm and emotionally regulated throughout the day. 

I have used the device called the Alpha Stim. See for details.

Transcutaneous Vagal Nerve Stimulation

Transcutaneous Vagus Nerve Stimulation (tcVNS) is a non-invasive and safe technique that appears to enhance brain GABA, serotonin, and noradrenaline levels. It may be helpful for anxiety, sleep, autism, and pain disorders. A more invasive form of vagal nerve stimulation using implantable devices has been helpful for epilepsy and also depression.  

In turns out there is an auricular branch of the vagus nerve, just outside of the ear and into the ear canal that can be stimulated with gentle electrical current. This can increase the relaxation response by supporting parasympathetic nervous system activity.

The device has two ear buds to place in the ear canals and then gentle electrical stimulation occurs (along with your choice of music if you would like). It takes about 20-30 minutes and regular use can lead to some sustained calming benefits including better sleep. 

I have used the Xen device with good results. See for details.



How Has Covid Affected Mental Health for Kids?

The pandemic has increased uncertainty over school experiences, how and when kids might connect with friends, family finances, vacations, part-time employment, and medical and mental health. This lack of a clear path forward, and our powerlessness over many factors about the direction of our lives, can lead to significant stress. Read more.



Discover your Resilience Type with the Resilience Quiz

After completing the quiz, you can get your free tailored mini-course, full of integrative practices and supplement ideas to help you reclaim your most resilient self.

Learn more
Resilience Type Quiz: A person wearing a white t-shirt and green pants is shown holding up falling beams.

Sleep Peacefully in Spring and Summer

Jun 01, 2023

Which Supplement Should I Take to Replace Relax Powder?

May 30, 2023

What is Equanimity?

Mar 09, 2023

Why Nutrition is Important: Understanding Food as Information

Nov 17, 2022

Helpful support delivered right to your inbox.

We’ll make your journey to resilience easier. Join our weekly newsletter for integrative tools to help you reclaim joy and calm more naturally.


This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice and is not a replacement for advice and treatment from a medical professional. Consult your doctor or other qualified health professional regarding specific health questions. Individuals providing content to this website take no responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. It is also essential to consult your physician or other qualified health professional before beginning any diet change, supplement, or lifestyle program.