Forest app maximizes productivity, gives back to the environment


Lily Klau ’23

The app forest available for download on iOS, iPadOS and Android helps build motivation and gives back to the environment.

You’re sitting at your desk on a Tuesday night with an abundance of homework ahead of you. As you’re about to pull out your algebra homework, a notification from Tik Tok lights up your phone.  Why not check it? You’ll only go on your phone for 10 minutes. It’s fine… Nearly two hours later, you’re still scrolling through Tik Tok next to your unfinished homework and a long night ahead of you.

Forest has come to the rescue as it provides the opportunity to build better relationships with our phones. Developed by Amy Jeng and ShaoKan Pi, the productivity application lets users set a designated time frame that they want to stay focussed in. When the period of time is set, a “tree” is planted and will grow during the focus time. However, if the user leaves the app and becomes distracted, the tree will die.  

The app is available for download on iOS, iPadOS and Android for a one time payment of $1.99. It also includes a variety of motivational tech features, such as relaxing background music, encouraging messages, deep-focus mode and more. 

A favorite feature to the app is the option to turn on deep-focus mode. When switched on while another app is opened during the planting process, you will have 10 seconds before receiving the message “click here to get back to Forest immediately to prevent the tree from dying.” With this feature you are instantly reminded of the intent of the focus period and encouraged to return into the app to a clearer mindset.  

Still another engaging feature is the option to enable the app’s Plant Together feature that switches your account from planting solo to planting with friends or family. The feature syncs multiple Forest accounts together, which challenges participants to not go on their phone at the same time. The feature ensures that each person is going phone-free because if one person were to go on their phone, everyone’s tree would wither and die. With many friends groups and families loving competition, this aspect raises the stakes and motivates each person to put in the effort.

A surprising perk to using the app is that it can also lead to planting real trees. After every focus session you are rewarded various amounts of coins, depending on the amount of time away from your phone. With the cost of 2,500 virtual Forest coins, the app donates real money to Trees for the Future, a non-profit organization that uses that money to plant a tree in Africa. An impressive 1.47 million trees have been contributed from Forest users already. 

We feel accomplished knowing that, not only is the app building better work and focus habits, but is also working to improve and give back to the environment. The overuse of screen time among teens is problematic. If your phone is near you when trying to get school work done, it can become a major distraction. Constantly checking your notifications as soon as they go off, leads to excessive use in technology; creating a habit of insufficient sleep. According to the Sleep Foundation, a study found that 57% of teens who use technology in their bedroom suffer from some kind of sleeping problem. 

It definitely isn’t easy to stay off of phones and it is a common occurrence to  fall victim to scrolling through social media hour after hour. So, the Forest app has been a game changer. 

— Talia Varsano ’24, Paige Miller ’24

This app is a step in the right direction to addressing the real problem of distraction that phones create. The more the app is used, the less addicted users will become and the more present they will be in real life. The $1.99 price tag is more than worth it for building a better relationship with ourselves, others and the environment.