Screen Time is a parental control app for iOS and Android devices. The app allows parents to remotely monitor and control their children’s use of phones and tablets. We recommend this app to parents who find it necessary to take additional steps to ensure their children are not getting too much screen time or abusing their screen time. Though this is an app through which parents have ultimate control, we encourage parents to start and maintain a dialogue with their kids about their expectations when it comes to digital media. Screen Time founder Steve Vangasse recommends (and we agree) that parents explain why they are installing Screen Time before they set limits. Additionally, we here at LearningWorks for Kids have observed that parents who allow their children to be involved in setting those limits find that the limits are more easily enforceable. Screen Time requires the installation of two apps — one master and one control app. The free version of the app has no ads but only basic functionality for the tracking and remote control of one device, while the subscription-based premium version has a multitude of features. While younger children often need help adhering to screen time limits, we believe device control apps like Screen Time work best when kids have a stronger sense of agency, can take more responsibility, can fully comprehend the dangers of overexposure to digital media, and can take an active role in determining limits set. For this reason, we recommend the app for ages 11 and up. You can find the app at the Screen Time Labs website.
Getting started and then maintaining attention and effort to tasks.
One of the biggest reasons parents look for limit-setting strategies is that they find their children lack focus skills. Homework done on the phone or tablet often devolves into surfing the Internet, watching YouTube videos, or chatting on Facebook. The control afforded by Screen Time allows parents to channel their children’s focus into the task at hand. By disallowing access to text messaging or social media during homework times, Screen Time can help parents ensure that kids are initiating and sustaining attention on tasks.
Managing our actions, feelings and behaviors.
Focus and self-control are closely related. When it comes to issues of kids getting distracted during homework time, Screen Time can certainly help. It is often the case that knowing one only has a limited amount of time allotted for certain apps and services -- or that they aren't available at all during certain times -- can actually minimize the impulse to let thoughts wander until primary responsibilities have been fulfilled. Parents can even assign tasks that, when completed and approved, have optional additional screen time rewards for positive reinforcement. Sometimes, however, there is more than just a focus issue at the root of Internet and social media use. When kids have a notable problem putting their devices down, limiting access to or completely shutting down their favorite apps via Screen Time is a viable therapeutic approach to resetting those impulses. Again, we reiterate the importance of including kids in discussing and setting limits.
Understanding our own actions, thoughts and feelings and empathizing with others.
Sometimes, kids just aren't aware of exactly how much time they are pouring into the Internet, games, and social media. Further, they are likely unaware of the thought processes, conscious or subconscious, that lead to their reliance on (even addiction to) digital media. Allowing them to be part of the limit-setting process can help tremendously. Screen Time offers reports on app and Internet usage, including how much time was spent using apps and games or surfing the web, as well as what was searched for. A likely possible future feature is the ability to read messages sent and received in social media apps. Going over these reports together can bring awareness and spark reflective dialogue.
Being efficient and aware of our use of time and effort.
The time management skills kids can learn from working with Screen Time are inextricable from the focus, self-control, and self-awareness skills they'll be practicing. As you go over Screen Time reports together, their understanding of time spent and time needed will only get stronger. That 10 minutes of Minecraft Pocket Edition they thought they were sneaking? That was actually 45 minutes. That eternity they thought they were spending researching their report for school? It was a mere 15 minutes. There are valuable rewards to be had from working together with Screen Time to manage your child's device usage, and a better sense of time is one of them.
All membership plans come with full access to our entire suite of tools learning guides, and resources. Here are a few of the ones we think you’ll like the most: