The Grow It! app—longitudinal changes in adolescent well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic: A proof-of-concept study

E. Dietvorst*, J. S. Legerstee, A. Vreeker, S. Koval, M. M. Mens, L. Keijsers, M. H.J. Hillegers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Adolescent mental health and well-being have been adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In this preregistered longitudinal study, we evaluated whether adolescents’ well-being improved after playing the multiplayer serious game app Grow It! During the first lockdown (May–June 2020), 1282 Dutch adolescents played the Grow It! app (age = 16.67, SD = 3.07, 68% girls). During the second lockdown (December–May 2020 onwards), an independent cohort of 1871 adolescents participated (age = 18.66, SD = 3.70, 81% girls). Adolescents answered online questionnaires regarding affective and cognitive well-being, depressive symptoms, anxiety, and impact of COVID-19 at baseline. Three to six weeks later, the baseline questionnaire was repeated and user experience questions were asked (N = 462 and N = 733 for the first and second cohort). In both cohorts, affective and cognitive well-being increased after playing the Grow It! app (t = − 6.806, p < 0.001; t = − 6.77, p < 0.001; t = − 6.12, p < 0.001; t = − 5.93, p < 0.001; Cohen’s d range 0.20–0.32). At the individual level, 41–53% of the adolescents increased in their affective or cognitive well-being. Adolescents with higher risk profiles (i.e., more depressive symptoms, lower atmosphere at home, and more COVID-19 impact) improved more strongly in their well-being. Positive user evaluations and app engagement were unrelated to changes in affective and cognitive well-being. This proof-of-concept study tentatively suggests that Grow It! supported adolescents during the pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1097-1107
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number6
Early online date7 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023

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