Battling Depression? Apps Offer Guidance and Support

By Tracey Dowdy

Any time there is a celebrity death, whether as a result of an accident, disease or by the individual’s own hand, there is a media frenzy related to the cause. Too often these stories relate to substance abuse, but sometimes, equally as tragic, we find the person involved has battled mental health issues for years.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a celebrity or Average Joe, the fact is depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders cross all socio-economic, ethnic, racial, and spiritual boundaries. Too often, individuals fail to get the help they need because they don’t know where to turn.

While it’s important for someone struggling with mental health issues to seek professional help, there are also a number of apps that can offer guidance and support:

Operation Reach Out

operation-reach-outOperation Reach Out was created with the specific intent of preventing suicides within the military. The app comes pre-loaded with phone numbers for suicide prevention hotlines, and users can customize the app to add a contact for someone to reach out to when they are in crisis. Although the app was created for military personnel and their families, it is a valuable resource for anyone. The app offers videos for the individual battling suicidal thoughts to help gain perspective on their problems and offering possible solutions. There are also videos for those trying to prevent a suicide with essential information such as what not to say, determining if the individual has overdosed, and helping them understand that help is available.

Platform: iOS, Android
Cost: Free

T2 Mood Tracker

t2-mood-tracker150Developed by the Department of Defense National Center for Telehealth and Technology, T2 Mood Tracker allows you to monitor your mood for six different pre-loaded behavioral categories: anxiety, stress, depression, brain injury, post-traumatic stress, and general well-being. Users rate their mood by sliding a bar across the screen and results are displayed in an easy-to-read chart that tracks results over time. To make the charting even more effective, users can add notes about events or medication changes that may have impacted their mood on that day.

Platform: iOS. Android
Cost: Free

Deep Sleep with Andrew Johnson

deep-sleepMental health experts agree a good night’s sleep is an invaluable resource in achieving and maintaining good mental health. Unfortunately, insomnia is often an issue and may even be a side effect of medication. DeepSleep is a guided meditation to help individuals turn off racing thoughts, relax, and fall asleep naturally. Suitable for beginners, the app allows you to set sleep and wake timers, and helps users slow racing thoughts and fall into a deep restful sleep.

Platform: iOS, Android
Cost: $2.99

DBT Diary Card and Skills Coach

dbt-diary-cardAlthough not intended to replace a mental health professional, DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) is designed to help individuals with personality disorders. Developed by Duke University Medical Center, DBT Diary Card offers coaching resources, reinforces tools from therapy, allows users to add personal goals and send their diary directly to their DBT coach.

Platform: iTunes
Cost: $4.99

Self-Help for Anxiety Management (SAM)

self-help-anxietyDeveloped by a team of psychologists, computer scientists and student users, Self-Help for Anxiety Management combines established self-help methods with the support of a closed group of users. With 25 self-help options, an easy to read interface, user guides, and links to external resources, SAM is a great resource for individuals looking to manage their anxiety.

SAM can be used independently or in conjunction with work individuals are doing with their therapist. The app is intuitive in that you can tell it how anxious or worried you are and it will guide you step-by-step through methods to reduce your stress. Users can customize the app to create their own Anxiety Tool Kit as a ready resource for managing stress and anxiety.

Platform: iOS, Android
Cost: Free

The most important thing is that whether you or someone you love is struggling with mental health, help is available. Life is a journey and there will always be twists, turns and detours, sometimes even disasters. When those times come and life overwhelms, ask for help. If you don’t know where to start, offers links for crisis and long term support.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, ON. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology.

Friday, September 26: The Connected Home



When: TODAY, Friday, September 26, 2014
12:00-1:00 pm PT
3:00-4:00 pm ET

‘The Connected Home’

Join @theonlinemom @RobynsWorld @geekbabe and @thetechdad TODAY at 12 noon PT (3 pm ET) as we chat about The Connected Home!
Faster networks and smarter apps have spawned a whole new generation of connected devices for the home, including Bluetooth speakers, security cameras, smart thermostats, and more. We look at how these devices are changing the way we live, and explore the possibilities for this exciting and rapidly expanding sector of the mobile lifestyle.
RSVP and attend the party for a chance to win a Nokia Lumia Icon smartphone or a Dropcam Pro camera!

(Click here to learn more about our Twitter chats. You must RSVP and attend the party to be eligible for a prize.)

  1. Email (subject line: VZWBuzz) and include your Twitter ID.
  2. Spread the word and RT this link on your Twitter feed:
  3. Join us on TweetDeck or HootSuite (#VZWBuzz) today between 12 – 1 pm PT
  4. Tell your Twitter followers!
PRIZE WINNERS will be announced during the Party!

(The Online Mom LLC receives a fee for participating in certain promotional programs for Verizon Wireless.)

Choosing Mobile Accessories

By Robyn Wright

Smartphones and tablets are great as stand-alone devices but sometimes we want a few extra accessories to enhance, protect, and extend their usefulness. However, there are so many accessories available that it can be a little overwhelming. Here are few tips on choosing accessories from three of the most popular categories:

Cases and Protectors

You can usually find both custom fit and generic cases and protectors for your devices. Custom fit are made for a specific make and model. For example, if you have a Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone, you can find cases that are made to fit that exact model. There are also generic cases that will fit a range of devices based on their approximate size, although they might not fit perfectly and could feel a little awkward. If you’re not sure, ask to try out a case before you buy it or at least be aware of the return policy.

Screen protectors work the same way: some will be custom made for your phone or tablet and others can trimmed to fit your device. Cases and protectors can help prevent cracked screens and other expensive mishaps or they can be purely decorative. Inexpensive decorative cases may look nice but they may not be enough to protect your phone.

Audio Accessories

There is likely to be a huge selection of headphones, earbuds, speakers, and other audio accessories that will work with your device. All smartphones and tablets have an output jack that can be connected to an audio accessory, or you can connect wirelessly through Bluetooth. Check your device settings for Bluetooth options.

With Bluetooth, you connect the accessory by “pairing” it with your device. There is no hard and fast limit on how far apart the two items can be, but 30 feet is often quoted as a standard maximum distance. Many new cars now offer Bluetooth support, so you can play music through the car speakers or use your phone hands-free.

Audio devices come in a wide range of prices and quality: you can find very low-cost accessories but the quality may be poor. On-ear and in-ear headsets will also vary in how well they fit each individual. Be sure to check the return policy, so you can return or exchange them if they are not a good fit.

Power Cables and Chargers

Thankfully, power cables and chargers are becoming more standardized (with the exception of the iPhones and iPads which continue to require custom equipment). Most smartphones and tablets will come with a mini-USB or micro-USB connector and charger. Stand-alone chargers can be brand name or generic; low or high priced; poor quality or excellent quality. There have been a number of recalls on inexpensive, no name chargers and cables because of fire hazards. Lower cost products also tend to have wires that are easier to break.

Portable battery packs are also available, so you don’t need a wall outlet to charge your device when you’re on the go. You charge the battery pack ahead of time and then just connect it to your device when you need more power. There are stand-alone models and models that are built into cases. The stand-alone models are usually more flexible and can work with many different phones and tablets.

Robyn Wright is a social media specialist and blogs on her own blog,, as well as several other sites. Robyn has a love for family, technology, food and lots of apps!

What Happens to Your Social Media Accounts After You Die?

By Stacey Ross

A close friend of the family unexpectedly passed away not too long ago, and it was touching and supportive for his family and friends that we were able to honor his life online. The reality is that since more and more of our lives are going digital these days, it warrants a discussion that many of us have never given much thought to – namely “What happens to our social media accounts when we pass on?”

Here’s a brief look at how three popular social media platforms handle accounts of the deceased:


Twitter officials will start deleting accounts after six months of inactivity, while most other social networks won’t touch your profile unless specifically asked to by a family member or an agent of law enforcement.

Twitter will work with a person authorized to act on behalf of an estate or with a verified immediate family member of the deceased (with both requiring a government-issued ID). To deactivate an account, Twitter needs the username of the deceased, a death certificate, a written explanation, a current address and the relationship to the deceased.


LinkedIn will work to delete an account so that the username and password no longer work and the deceased individual’s profile is removed from the site. If you are taking action in this area, you will need to know the deceased member’s name, the company he or she worked at most recently, and provide a link to his or her profile.

It’s also helpful if you can provide LinkedIn with the member’s email address. You will be required to state your relationship to the deceased, as those without a close relationship might not be able to have the account removed.

There is a way to export the deceased user’s connections in case you have a need to contact them in the future, which can be useful for small businesses if an owner or key partner passes away.


If you are an immediate family member, you can go through the various steps to deactivate an account or you can turn a lost loved one’s profile into a memorial page. The memorialized timeline is accessible and searchable only by friends, who will have the opportunity to post and look at pictures. Nobody would be able to tag the deceased in photos or posts, send messages, or ‘friend’ the deceased. Similarly, the account will no longer generate birthday reminders, or show up in “People You May Know” prompts.

Millions of users have died since Facebook has been around. Since Facebook won’t delete profiles on its own, it poses a viable curiosity to some that one day the dead might outnumber the living!

What about privacy?

There is an ongoing debate over the ownership of “digital assets” and the laws are still catching up with the times. Certain areas are still unclear, and different laws in different states only add to the confusion.

What do you think? When a person dies, should their loved ones should be granted access to their information, photos, videos, etc.? Some say yes, yet others have concerns about confidentiality. There are crucial legal but also practical implications which come into play when loved ones are allowed to access previously password-protected accounts.

Making provisions as to who could legally assume responsibility for your accounts could help streamline the process, as well as leaving an instruction letter with your wishes, account names, and updated passwords.

A new plan endorsed by the Uniform Law Commission proposes legislation that would automatically allow loved ones to access social media accounts (though not post from them), with an exception for wills that specifically request restricted access.

Of course, privacy activists argue that confidential information kept online should remain secure. It would be wise for online enthusiasts to create a social media will, particularly if they want their digital assets to be accessed by others.

Be proactive!

There are certainly tools available – actual websites where you can save all your passwords in a digital vault, along with instructions for your loved ones for when you die. You can even leave legacy videos or create “dead social accounts,” which enable you to communicate with people at predetermined times after your death. (Although the idea of curating information to be sent virtually once you are gone can seem a bit creepy, and could expose loved ones to digital identity crimes.)

Once these services receive proof of death, they will email passwords to people nominated by the deceased, along with any other instructions. This is a lot to “byte” off, but is well worth considering!

Meanwhile, while you are growing your digital footprint on a daily basis, give some thought to what happens after you’re gone, and to what degree you wish to maintain an online identity while you are dancing in the clouds of Heaven!

Stacey Ross is an online consultant, social media enthusiast, freelancer and owner of A former teacher and middle school counselor, she is now a mom of two who researches and freelances about lifestyle topics involving family and well-being.

Facebook Not Feeling the Love (Again)

When Facebook announced in April of this year that the messaging feature would be removed from the Facebook mobile app and users would be required to download the separate Messenger app, there was the usual outcry from the Facebook faithful. After all, Facebook users are notorious for not liking change, whether it’s a seismic shift like increasing the size of photos or something smaller like tweaking Facebook’s privacy policies.

However, this time the backlash feels a little different. We are almost four months into the migration period and, if anything, the anti-Messenger sentiment is growing. Over 21,000 people have submitted a review of the app on iTunes and over 95 percent of those reviews are resoundingly negative, leaving Messenger with an embarrassing 1-star rating. (1 star is the lowest rating on iTunes; fortunately for Facebook, you can’t give an app zero stars!)

What are the biggest failings of Messenger? Well, there are numerous complaints about the app constantly crashing and messages not going through, but the biggest objection appears to be the lack of convenience: ‘Why do we now have to use two apps when before we just used one?’ It’s a very good question and the answer probably has more to do with Facebook’s long term strategy for growth that it has to do with the convenience of its current customers.

When Facebook paid $19 billion for WhatsApp back in February, many analysts and tech commentators were left scratching their heads. How could a simple messaging app, albeit one with over 400 million users, be worth so much money? While some of the reasons for the acquisition were defensive – anything to stop it falling into the hands of Google – it was also an admission that, in the mobile era, Facebook has some serious limitations.

While Facebook continues to pick up additional users in various parts of the world, it has reached saturation point in many of its largest markets, including the U.S. In fact, younger American users have been abandoning Facebook in droves, preferring less cluttered, more direct social media apps like Instagram, Snapchat, and even Twitter.

It’s this movement back to straightforward messaging that has Facebook worried. Not only can you get back to a more meaningful one-on-one dialogue (or one-on-many using group chat), but the latest texting and chat apps allow you to add photos and videos, and even engage in one-touch video chat.

With these other options available, who is going to bother to open Facebook to send a simple message? Ironically, the in-app message integration that is so convenient to traditional Facebook users is now a major inconvenience to non-Facebook users, and it’s those non-Facebook users that are so important to the future growth of the company.

As they have demonstrated many times in the past, Mark Zuckerberg and friends are quite willing to take a little criticism now if it means they stay relevant down the road. Meanwhile, Facebook mobile users can either download the Messenger app or switch to one of the many alternatives. Either way, we end up doing what Facebook wants us to do and that’s open another app!

Friday, August 8: Back To School RECAP

Join host Robyn Wright and guest Jacqueline Cromwell as they talk about how kids (and parents!) can get the most out of their mobile devices as we get ready for back-to-school.
Looking for a mobile makeover? Fill up the #VZWBuzz Makeover Application and you could win a brand new smartphone or tablet!
Better Note-Taking for a Successful School Year:…
Back to School: Get Inspired with Mobile Tech:…
College Dorm Checklist | Best Tech for College Students:…
Parent Tech Video Series: Back-to-School Tech Tips for Parents:…
Too Cool for School: Tech for High School Clubs:…
Check out the Verizon Insider’s Guide for more helpful mobile technology tips and resources:

Friday, August 1: The Mobile Conversation RECAP

Join host Monica Vila and guest Marty McPadden as they look at how smartphones are changing the way we communicate. Learn about all the latest messaging apps and find out how you can use messaging tools to keep your loved ones safe!
Looking for a mobile makeover? Fill out the #VZWBuzz Makeover Application and you could win a brand new smartphone or tablet!

Friday, July 25: Mobile Fashion RECAP

Join host Monica Vila and Sarah Ruhlman as they look at apps that can help you navigate the fashion scene. Plus, tips on using your mobile device to make shopping easy and enjoyable!
7 Styling Apps for the Mobile Fashionista
Fashion Technology: When Two Worlds Collide
Shopping With My Smartphone
10 Best Shopping Apps
Five Shopping Tips to Help You Get the Most for Your Money
Verizon Edge | Upgrade Your Smartphone or Tablet
Six Apps Every Fashionista Needs
Motorola Power Pack Slim 4000 – Verizon Wireless
Check out the Verizon’s Insider’s Guide for more helpful mobile technology tips and resources.
Join Monica Vila LIVE Every Friday at 4pm ET for the #VZWBuzz Recap which airs right after the weekly #VZWBuzz Chat on Twitter

Thursday, August 14: A Special WWEmoms Twitter Event

A Special WWEmoms Twitter Event


When: TODAY, Thursday, August 14, 2014
7:00 – 8:00 pm ET
4:00 – 5:00 pm PT

‘Getting Ready for SummerSlam 2014’

Join @WWEmoms and friends TODAY at 7 pm ET as we get ready for SummerSlam 2014!
SummerSlam 2014 takes place this Sunday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA, and whether you plan on being there in person or watching from home, it promises to live up to its billing as The Biggest Party of the Summer. Join us as we look forward to the star-studded action and preview the many worthy activities that surround this flagship event!
RSVP and attend the party for a chance to win a Samsung HMX-W200 Pocket Cam, a Brookstone Wine Chiller, or a Jambox by Jawbone Wireless Speaker!

(Click here to learn more about our Twitter chats. You must RSVP and attend the party to be eligible for a prize.)

  1. Email (subject line: WWEmoms) and include your Twitter ID
  2. Spread the word and RT this link on your Twitter feed:
  3. Join us on TweetDeck or HootSuite (#WWEmoms) today between 7 – 8 pm ET
  4. Tell your Twitter followers!
PRIZE WINNERS will be announced during the Party!

(The Online Mom LLC receives a fee for participating in certain promotional programs for WWE.)