Modern parents are lucky in that we have so many whiz-bang gadgets to help keep kids occupied when parents need to actually get something done. Let’s face it: Handing over a tablet or smartphone loaded with apps and games to keep children out of trouble for a little bit can be a godsend. But all the worrying about how, exactly, kids are using those screens might give a parent some premature gray hairs. That’s why we’ve rounded up five best screen-time apps for kids — to help keep those young minds safe (and also to prevent them from turning into little screen zombies).
Touting an impressive number of protections, Bark helps parents monitor their kids’ activities on more than 32 apps that include all the usuals like Snapchat, TikTok, Gmail and more. This screen-time app monitors texts and emails, plus how and when social media apps are being used. It even gives parents reports noting flaggable content — everything from bullying and self-harm to school shootings. Bark will alert parents to a potential problem and give advice from a child psychologist on how to intervene. This app is one of the highest-rated and most respected on the market, and has partnered with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Sandy Hook Promise, and other notable organizations.
Net Nanny excels at blocking pornography as well as apps and websites that parents feel are inappropriate for their kids. With constant monitoring and parental reports that include dangerous online searches, risky behaviors such as cyber bullying ,and more, Net Nanny is a great way to keep an eye on your kids’ internet usage. The software for parents includes a package for monitoring more than one child with an easy-to-use dashboard that gives parents a quick snapshot of what is going on with their family’s devices. The company offers several package deals, but the most popular includes protection for up to five devices for $54.99 a year, or $11 per device per year. It is compatible with macOS, Android, iOS and Fire.
Screen Time Labs
For parents who are finding themselves locked in power struggles over screen time with their kids, the Screen Time Labs app is here to save the day. While this app definitely includes features to help monitor where a child goes online, the biggest and best feature is how it gives parents options to pause a screen from working so that kids will put their devices down and get back to playing. SheKnows’ recent Hatch: Raising Gen Z study (with help from Common Sense Media) examined the shocking fact that teens spend 45 hours per week on their smartphones; with this app, parents can limit a kid’s time on a device and even set up incentives to earn more time in exchange for playing outside, for example.
Life360 has become the go-to app for parents to monitor how their teens use their devices while out and about. Distracted driving has become a major concern for many parents, with states passing distracted driving laws in order to curb teens’ and adults’ phone use while driving. With Life360, parents can see if a teen is texting while driving, monitor exactly where their child is on a live, private map, and even see whether the driver is braking hard or speeding. Life360 is free to download and use. It offers two paid subscriptions called Life360 Plus and Life360 Driver Protect, both of which parents can test-drive with a seven-day free trial.
unGlue aims to end screen-time battles by giving parents clever ways to get kids off their devices. Instead of just shutting off access to the internet like some other apps, unGlue gives parents the option to schedule screen time, turn off internet access and even get the household chores involved. Parents can schedule when kids can use their devices, what apps they can use, and how much screen time they can earn by doing chores like washing the dishes. Kids get easy-to-understand charts that tell them how much of their screen time they’ve used up, giving them the opportunity to learn time management skills — a huge plus!