Using technology to help educate, prepare, and distract kids in the hospital

September 22, 2014 Abigail Schmidt

The hospital can be a scary place for any patient, and even more so for children. iPads have been around for nearly four years and in that time they have expanded the way children are educated, prepared, distracted, and provided normalization in the pediatric areas of the hospital.

Educating kids

An iPad allows staff to teach patients about a new diagnosis while making it fun and interactive. An iPad provides a visual and hands on way to teach about a diagnosis and also make sure the patient understands their diagnosis. There are many apps designed by healthcare professionals for diagnosis education with kids. Some of these applications include: “Medikidz explains Type One Diabetes”, “Blast Those Blasts” (for children with cancer, specifically leukemia), “Flow Breather” (for children with cystic fibrosis) and “Wellapets- Asthma Education Pets for Kids.”

Helping kids prepare for a procedure or experience

Most pediatric patients have rarely, if ever, been to the hospital or had to experience the healthcare system, so making sure there are no surprises is important. An iPad allows staff to take pictures or videos of certain rooms, departments, equipment and more. These pictures and videos help our child patients see and know about areas of the hospital before they have to visit them. Apps can be downloaded for free that help parents and healthcare professionals better prepare kids for procedures using words and pictures that fit their age and understanding. These types of applications include “Simply Sayin’”, “Riley Child Life Tour”, “iGet it…Going to the Hospital” and much more.

Distracting kids

An iPad is also an amazing form of distraction and fun for pediatric patients. It is one thing to have a child learn and be prepared for a procedure, but it is another entire thing to have them distracted during it. At Swedish, iPads are used daily for patients as they fall asleep in surgery and on the pediatric units during IVs and minor procedures. During the procedure, patients are able to watch a favorite movie or play a familiar game to make the procedure seem less scary. Some patients prefer the iPad blocking them from seeing the “poke”, while others want to be able see both the iPad and the “poke.” If you’re looking for apps that might help distract your child during a procedure, try “Angry Birds”, “Fruit Ninja”, “Dress Up- Princess”, “Lego Juniors”, “Relaxing Melodies”, and many more.

Normalizing kids’ environments

An iPad provides opportunities for kids to feel like kids and is a comfort in a not so familiar environment. Not only do patients play games on the iPad but they are able to video chat with loved ones or peers that are unable to visit. Infants can be soothed by apps with white noise or relaxing music. (Of course, it is important to remember to limit the amount of technology a child has per day and encourage other types of play as well!)


All iPads and technology used in the Pediatric Departments have been graciously donated from the Swedish Foundation - please visit

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