It's unclear as to they actually reap the same benefits, or not. There is one scientific study that shows effectiveness of the mindfulness app called Headspace. Participants were asked to use the app for 10 days. Those who used the app every day showed improvement in their moods and fewer symptoms of depression. Sound promising, right? Well, yes and no. Not all apps are created equal. There are many apps out there who claim scientific research to back up their claims but there isn't any factual data to prove it. Caveat Emptor. (Buyer Beware!)
Since 25% of all pageviews are now done with a smartphone, it makes sense to see which apps will work best for you on your mobile device. There are so many mind-training apps available these days, it's tough to weed through them all. Most of them will tell you that their app is based on science when, in fact, it isn't really. These companies like to prey on the consumer's fears and their desire to live a happier, helathier, more stress-free life. What these companies are relying on is the general science of mindfulness itself to prove that their apps are worthy of your time and attention. Mostly, all they do is to provide you with a link to the latest and greatest study on the benefits of mindfulness. But these studies don't have a thing to do with the efectiveness of their app! Unfortunately, many apps target vulvernable populations and end up doing these people a great disservice.
So how can you know if any of these apps are actually helpful? It's difficult. Experts in the field of mindfulness agree that when these apps are more mechanistically-based, when they can prove the science, research, and data to back up their claims, then the app will probably be useful. Otherwise, stay clear. Here are some things to look for when choosing a mindfulness app for your electronic device.
1. Get clear on its purpose. Is there a clear rationale for this app is useful? If it's for stress, say, how will it reduce stress?
2. Show me the research! Idally all claims made can be backed up with studies, scientific research and can show you the "before and after" differences.
3. Music doesn't help. Music is popular for relaxation apps but isn't necessarily good for mindfulness ones. The practice of mindfulness is about observing and experiencing states that arise in the mind as we find it. Music can get in the way. It can be more distracting and, thus, make it more difficult to concentrate on present-moment awareness.
It's not enough for these app companies to hitch their wagon to the current science and say that their app works for this or that, capilalizing on the latest fads. In the future, let's hope it won't be so easy for these future developers to craft their marketing materials around kywords (buzzwords) without having the actual science to back up their claims. Until then I, for one, will continue to practice mindfulness the "old-fashioned way."