App review by Ericka D, Common Sense Education | Updated September 2020
Insight Timer
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Insight Timer

Popular mindfulness app offers daily, guru-guided meditation practice

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Grades
K–12
Subjects & Skills
Health & Wellness, Character & SEL

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Pros: A robust and high-quality library of content with a great social community.

Cons: The audio-only format will require adult guidance for kids. Lacks some accessibility features teachers expect.

Bottom Line: This expert-guided SEL tool can help students -- and teachers -- build lifelong habits for relaxation, reflection, and focus.

To use Insight Timer most effectively, think about letting students use this as part of a classroom relaxation station or cozy-corner calming tool. Start off a school day with a soft landing by having a meditation playing in the background as students filter in to get their morning work. End your day with a meditation focused on connectivity and gratitude. For young students who still have rest time built into their day: Have one student each day select one to three stories for their class to listen to. Humanities and ELA teachers in middle school or high school could use Insight Timer as a supplement to journaling, reading time, or final reflections. Finally, teachers of any grade might use Insight Timer to calm excited energy after events like recess, PE, assemblies, field trips, and more.

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Insight Timer is a meditation, relaxation, and mindfulness practice app for the web, iOS, Android, and Chrome. The app version begins by asking users what brought them to the app. They can then choose from struggles like anxiety to self-esteem. Users can also select options to improve sleep, improve performance, manage stress, or even streamline mornings. For those just looking to develop a self-guided meditation practice, there's an option to choose a timer, bells (to structure the activity), and a type of meditation activity (e.g., walk or prayer). There's also a more structured set of guided meditations (varying in theme and duration) with wellness experts, including daily live meditations. Any meditations can be saved to a playlist or downloaded (with the premium paid version) for offline listening. Users can also follow facilitators, or "teachers," and get notified when these teachers offer new content.

There are some educational options as well. The "talks" selection delivers content in a podcast format from experienced thought leaders, and the "courses" in the premium paid content offer lectures in a structured and weekly layout. Insight Timer also offers content for kids and children as well as soundscapes to support sleep routines that could work well during preschool or kindergarten relaxation time. For individuals, Insight Timer has progress tracking, including a graph that charts daily, weekly, or monthly engagement.

Insight Timer effectively focuses on two core components of social and emotional learning: emotional awareness and regulation. It will develop students' meditative and relaxation coping techniques, which are valuable skills in school and beyond. Importantly, students go beyond learning the techniques, building regular practices and making meditation into a daily habit. The structure of the meditations, backed by the helpful guiding hands of the expert facilitators and the real-time progress-tracking, encourages students to stick with their SEL development.

While other apps offer only guided meditations and visualizations, Insight Timer adds paid courses and interviews from influential thought leaders. These premium extras are valuable for contextualizing meditation as well as helping students with specific issues or needs develop skills tuned to their individual situations. However, these features are best suited to older students or those who are self-motivated. While all of this makes Insight Timer one of the better meditation apps out there, there's one thing lacking that's present in some of these other apps: accessibility features such as closed captioning. 

Overall Rating

Engagement

Students will feel welcomed into the practice of meditation and empowered when they begin to transfer learned skills to their daily lives.

Pedagogy

Because of its multiple entry points into meditation, Insight Timer motivates students to learn new skills and practice them, and then think critically about their use as they apply those skills to their lives.

Support

While the experience of the app is pretty intuitive and features visible data to chart growth, there's a lack of accessible options for learners with unique needs.


Common Sense reviewer
Ericka D Counselor, psychologist, or social worker

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