Top 10 Best Apps to Limit Screen Time on Computers and Phones-Including Freeware

Rosa Reyes
April 28, 2023 Preview 17.6K Preview 0
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Screen Time is the amount of time spent on devices with a screen, such as computers and smartphones. In the digital age, people use computers and smart devices for work, education, entertainment and more, spending more and more time on screens. Too much screen time is bad for both children and adults. That’s why there are apps to limit screen time.

This article provides a list of the best apps to limit screen time for kids and adults. Some of the apps are for Mac, some are for Windows, some are for iPhone, some are for Android, and some are cross-platform.

We tested their performance on different devices, also checked their features, limitations and free limit and publish the review. Hope they’ll be helpful for you to limit screen time, stop Internet addiction, reduce digital distractions and more.

 

Should screen time be limited?

With the advancement of technology, increasing screen time has become a trend in modern society. People are using electronic devices more than ever before. Smartphones and computers have become essential tools in our daily lives. However, numerous studies show that excessive screen time may negatively affect our health, especially for children and adolescents. Lead to obesity, sleep problems, vision problems, poor concentration, anxiety and depression, etc. Some harmful content online also affect children’s mental health. Therefore, limiting screen time can bring us numerous health benefits and form good habit.

It should be noted that to set the optimal screen time limit, you need to consider multiple factors, including the user’s age, purpose of screen use, etc. According to the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics, children under the age of 2 should avoid screen use as much as possible, and children aged 2-5 should not exceed 1 hour a day. For adults, the screen time should also be limited to less than 6 hours per day.

10 best free apps to limit screen time

#1Cisdem AppCrypt

Compatibility:  Mac
Cost: Free trial for 3 days; $19.99/year
Overall rating: 4.5/5 (Excellent)

AppCrypt

Cisdem AppCrypt is one of the best apps to limit screen time and help create a safe online environment. It offers a powerful site blocking and app locking feature. If you find that you have Internet addiction, this tool enables you to move all addictive websites and apps to the block list, or you can customize the time to allow access to these websites/apps.

It’s also a reliable parental controls app. You are able to block sites on your child’s device by categories, such as social media, porn sites, games sites, etc. You can also choose to block inappropriate websites all the time, while blocking distracting sites like social media during weekdays. To further enhance the screen time limit and content filtering, AppCrypt requires the password to enter/quit/uninstall it.

Features included

  • Limit access to websites/apps during certain time.
  • Block a specific website/webpage.
  • Block categories of websites, like social media, gambling, porn sites and more.
  • Block URLs containing specific keyword.
  • Lock apps with password.
  • Let you set to launch at system startup.
  • Require password to disable website block/app lock.
  • Help users overcome screen addiction.
  • Help limit child’s screen time and block harmful content.

Pros

  1. Powerful web filtering feature.
  2. Decide when your child can access the blocked sites/apps.
  3. Simple and clear UI.
  4. Easy to use and hard to bypass.
  5. Use little or not CPU.
  6. Record every failed attempt for launching AppCrypt.

Cons

  1. Not available on Windows.

Best for

Those who want to manage child’s screen time with web filter and those who want to stay focused while working.

Not for

Windows users.

Free Download

#2 Norton Family

Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
Cost: Free trial for 30 days; $49.99/year
Overall rating: 4/5 (Very good)

Norton Family is a screen time limit app for kids. Parents can set up a North Family account then install and activate Norton Family on children’s device to monitor his online activities.

With Norton Family, you can set screen time limits and help children make the most of their screen time. It informs you of how much time your kids spend on their devices. If it’s a healthy amount of screen time, then just leave it at that. If your children spend too much time on screens, you can use Norton Family to schedule screen time for your children.

It uses an online-device VPN to keep your child safe from inappropriate contents, requires a VPN and MDM profile to be installed on child’s devices. Your child will only be able to access the allowed web content and will not be able to download unmonitored apps on his device.

Features included

  • Comes with 47 filter categories including alcohol, violence, pornography, weapons, etc.
  • Filters are pre-blocked according to the age of kids.
  • Keeping you in the know when kids attempt to visit a blocked site.(Android&Windows)
  • See which apps your kids have downloaded on their Android devices, and choose which apps to block or unblock.
  • Video Supervision - A unique feature for screen time apps. This feature provides you a list of the YouTube and Hulu videos your children watch and gives you a snippet of each video.
  • Search Monitor - Form a word cloud on the main page for you to see which terms your kids are searching on their devices.
  • Limit screen time per day or per week.
  • Social Network Supervision - see when and how long kids log on to Facebook from their PCs, and the name they use on their profiles. (monitored only on Windows)
  • Screentime monitoring - Get detailed reports on children's activity on divide and send the report to your inbox.
  • Track location - mac the location of the Android or iOS devices and give you a 30-day location history.
  • Enable you to set the personal information you don't want children to share online. block anytime when the child wants to share this information and notify you if they attempt to do so. (Window Only)
  • Supervises contacts and SMS on Android.
  • Allow the child to send you a note if they disagree with the site or app you blocked.
  • Instant Lock: Can instantly lock the device any time you see fit.

Pros

  1. Unlimited on the number of devices that can be monitored
  2. Works with most platforms
  3. 47 blocking filters as per the kid's age
  4. Tracking videos on YouTube and Hulu
  5. Monitor children's activity online and give you the report.

Cons

  1. Not compatible with Mac
  2. Limited iOS features
  3. Inability to set screentime allowance
  4. Not a stealth product so the child will be able to see the house rules will know their text and messages are being monitored.
  5. No geofencing option
  6. No social media monitoring for mobile devices

Best for

Large families that use Android and Windows exclusively, Norton Family Premier will be well worth it.

Not for

Those with limited budgets.

#3 Net Nanny

Compatibility: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Fire OS
Cost: Free for mobile devices; Premium starts with $39.99/year
Overall rating: 4/5 (Very good)

Having been around since 1996, Net Nanny is a powerful, versatile parental control app that provides great screen time management solutions.

Net Nanny enables parents to block or allow internet access at specific times of the day and specific days of the week. This way, parents can precisely control kids’ screen time. There is a lot of flexibility. For example, parents can allow little screen time on school days and more screen time on weekends and holidays.

Features included

  • Remote Control: remotely monitor and make changes to the device.
  • Track kid's online search activity and send instant warnings to you for flagged words.
  • Real-time Alerts on Porn, Suicide, Weapons and Drug-related Content.
  • Internet Filtering and blocking: Check the content of any website your child visits in real-time and keep out pornographic or inappropriate websites and Popups.
  • Block websites with 14 preset categories: Abortion, Adult Novelty, Anime, Death/Gore, Drugs, Gambling, Mature Content, Nudity, Pornography, Provocative, Strip Cubs, Suicide, Tobacco, Weapons.
  • Add Whitelist or backlist website for each user.
  • Receive alerts when kids try to visit blocked websites.
  • Schedule to limit times when your child can use the Internet.
  • Monitor and see how their devices are being used.
  • See which apps kids are using along with app usage reports showing the amount of screen time they’re consuming.
  • Provide and App Advisor for you to view a short description of a app and know immediately if it’s safe. (Android Only)
  • Block unwanted or inappropriate mobile apps.
  • Get alerts when new apps are installed. (Android Only)
  • Provide suggestions on App age appropriateness.

Pros

  1. Powerful pornography blocker.
  2. Remote access and control of the device.
  3. Great design.
  4. Excellent web filter function.
  5. Supports Windows, Mac, Android and Kindle.
  6. Give Report and alert instantly.

Cons

  1. No call/text monitoring even on Android.
  2. A bit expensive
  3. Lacks tracking and geofencing features

Best for

If your kids spend most of the time browsing online, as it as top-rated porn blocker and Internet filter.

Not for

It may not be the option for you if you need to track the location of your kids or need geofencing function or if you need text and call monitoring function.

#4 OurPact

Compatibility: iOS, iPadOS, Android​
Cost: Free (for 1 device only); Premium version starts with $6.99/month
Overall rating: 4.6/5 (Excellent)

Available for both iOS and Android devices, OurPact is a free parental control app that provides great screen time management solutions. In addition to setting daily screen time limits, this screen time limit app allows parents to schedule children’s daily screen time, providing a high level of customizability.

With this app, parents can monitor, control and guard their children’s phone usage and locate family members from a single app. What impresses me most is that the app includes a downloadable contract that parents and kids sign.

Features included

  • Block access to apps like YouTube, FaceBook, Instagram, etc.
  • Set rules for individual apps - limit or block distracting social apps and games, while at the same time give kids full access to educational, school and productivity apps.
  • Block the internet at a specific time.
  • Block texting
  • Family locator that locate family members using geolocation.
  • Set geofences around specific locations and receive instant alerts when your kids arrive at or leave the place.
  • Screen time allowance: set daily screen time limit and let your children plan on how to use the allowed screen time.

Pros

  1. One single interface to keep track of all your family members.
  2. Set app rules to limit social media and certain apps usage.
  3. Locate and set a safe location for family members.
  4. Gets the child actively involved in the process.
  5. The only parental control app that can block iOS app.
  6. Manage up to 20 devices with just one app.
  7. Screen time allowance feature.

Cons

  1. Difficult to set up on iOS devices.
  2. Without wifi, kids can pause the screen time.
  3. No activity tracking feature.
  4. No call or text monitoring.
  5. Has reportedly suddenly crashed on iOS devices.
  6. After setting a block, apps will disappear from the device and after removing the block all apps will reappear on the screen in alphabetical order.

Best for

Overall, OurPact is very easy to use and is a good tool to put in place for younger kids.

Not for

If you need to know what your kids are looking at on the Internet then you may want to look at some other apps.

#5 Qustodio Free

Compatibility: Windows, macOS, ChromeOS, Android, iOS, iPadOS, Fire OS
Cost: Free; Qustodio Premium starts with $4.58/month
Overall rating: 4.8/5 (Excellent)

Qustodio is a cross-platform parent control app that lets parents take precise control over their child’s screen time across desktop and mobile devices. It is easy to use and offers a huge range of options. It provides detailed report for you to see exactly what apps kids are using, what websites kids are visiting, and how long they spend on specific apps and websites.

Qustodio’s web-filtering and screen time management capabilities are highly configurable. The dashboard and reporting functionalities provide a valuable tool for parents to both mold and monitor how children interact with the web and web-connected devices.

There are two versions: Qustodio Free and Qustodio Premium. The former only offers five basic features, including screen time monitoring and daily screen time limits.

Features included

  • Manage devices on multiple platforms.
  • Set limits to lock apps and websites from being accessed (either all together or on a specific time).
  • Social media monitoring: A dedicated monitoring tab to monitor the time kids spend on Facebook.
  • Track messages and call monitoring (Android-only)
  • Block calls or specific contacts.
  • Track your child’s location
  • A panic button to send out an emergency message that contains the current location to trusted contacts in an emergency (Android Only).
  • Offers an engaging daily activity summary for parents to see kids’ internet use such as browsing and social media activity, call history, etc.
  • Categories-based web filtering: Easily block access to websites matching any of the 29 pre-list filter categories including pornography, drugs, gambling sites, Violence, etc.
  • Daily Time Allowance: Let parents set the total amount of time per day that the child can use his or her devices.
  • Has an option of Don’t let anyone see Qustodio has been installed on this computer”. so you can limit the screen time without being noticed.
  • Allow parents to blacklist and whitelist specific domains like social media networks and online gaming pages.

Pros

  1. Qustodio's content filtering is browser-independent, so kids can't just install a separate browser to get around restrictions.
  2. Ease of use – Comparatively easy to install and set up
  3. Visually intuitive web dashboard
  4. Great social networking filters
  5. The only service we tested that supports Amazon Fire tablets
  6. Free tier that covers a single device with web filtering, time limits and reports.

Cons

  1. iOS version lacks the full parental control features the Android version offers.
  2. No geofencing option.
  3. You can manage only a few dozen apps on iOS(70 apps)
  4. Monitoring texts and calls works on only Android.
  5. Premium subscription may be pricey for some
  6. App monitoring is limited to internet-connected apps
  7. Lacks “additional time request” capabilities.
  8. App monitoring only works for applications requiring internet access.
  9. Cannot block chat-based apps like WhatsApp.

Best for

It is good for parents who need to monitor device usage. It is also the choice for those whose children use Amazon devices.

Not for

It is not the best choice for those who primarily want to control screen time on iPhone.

#6 unGlue

Compatibility: iOS, macOS
Cost: Free; Premium starts with $4.99
Overall rating: 4/5 (Very good)

Designed as a parental control app, unGlue provides tools for parents to manage and limit children’s time on screens.

With this app to limit screen time, parents set the daily limit, giving kids the right to decide how they use the screen time. Some of the features that make Unglue stand out include the rewarding system and the feature to roll unused time to a new day, which teaches valuable skills to kids and instill better time management habits. Also, it’s a great app that increases productivity for adults to track and monitor their phone usage.

Features included

  • Keep track of kid’s screen time and give detailed reports showing what apps/websites kids used and how much time they spend on each apps/sites.
  • Block apps in all or individually.
  • Block YouTube, block Netflix, block Amazon prime, and other video apps.
  • Block Internet access, block apps outside of screentime settings.
  • Make the Internet age-appropriate & safe for your kids with a single click.
  • Block Adult content and other red-flag websites.
  • Monitor app, game activity with usage reports for each device.
  • Entertainment app limiter: Bundle major entertainment apps and sites into a “fun” bucket and set limit with one click.
  • TimeBank: Save unused screen time to a time bank and kids can roll over unused screen time for another day.
  • Steps4Time features that encourage kids to trade daily steps for screen time.
  • Reward kids with extra screentime by doing chores and tasks you’ve requested.
  • Screentime Schedules: Create screentime schedules and let kids see their daily schedules for screen time so they can plan their day accordingly.
  • Set specific screentime schedules for dinnertime, homework time, family time and bedtime.
  • Turn internet access on or off any time at your device.

Pros

  1. Manage multiple devices from single app
  2. Help kids form better time management habits.
  3. Simple and intuitive interface.
  4. A free app with many useful features.
  5. Steps4Time help kids get more daily steps.
  6. Let kids manage screentime themselves.
  7. Good reward system.

Cons

  1. Some functions are limited in the trial version
  2. Have no location tracking and geofencing capability.

Best for

It can be a good choice for parents who love the idea of children earning more screen time by doing chores.

Not for

It’s not the best option if you want to make sure that the daily limits are very hard to bypass.

#7 SPACE

Compatibility: Mac, iOS

Cost: Free; Premium starts with $3.99

Overall rating: 3.5/5(Good)

space

Developed by Mrigaen Kapadia, SPACE is one of the best apps to limit screen time and break your digital addiction. To encourage you to put down the digital devices and find your phone/life balance, SPACE let you share your progress with families, friends and colleagues. There is also an interesting feature: analyzing what type of phone user you are, such as social sticky-mitt, rabbit hole wanderer.

You are able to set screen time limit goals for yourself, as well as set the number of times you’re allowed to unlock the device. Sometimes we unlock the phone many times but it does absolutely nothing at all. SPACE is just the tool to help you stop checking your phone all the time.

Note that SPACE requires turning on the location service to track your time. However it will increase your device’s power consumption.

Features included

  • Set daily screen time goals.
  • Set a limit on how many times you are allowed to unlock the device.
  • Track your progress on these goals.
  • Share you progress with other users and build goals together.
  • Provides 8-Day Phone/Life Balance course to help you break digital addiction.
  • Analyze what type of digital user you are.

Pros

  1. Powerful screen time limit feature
  2. Easy to use
  3. Share result and progress with other users
  4. Offer free version and pro version

Cons

  1. Can’t block websites and lock apps on device
  2. No password lock feature
  3. No apps and websites usage tracking
  4. High power consumption

Best for

Those who have good self-control and want to record progress.

Not for

Those who need to block inappropriate contents and distracting sites on device.

#8 Digital Wellbeing

Compatibility:  Android

Cost: Free

Overall rating: 4/5 (Very good)

digital wellbeing

Digital Wellbeing is a tool launched by Google to help users manage their digital life. The app has a range of features that allow users to gain more control over the time they spend on their phones and maintain healthy digital habits.

It allows users to set daily usage limits to help them control how much time they use their smartphones. Users can set a time limit on certain apps or websites, while also getting reminders when the time runs out. Additionally, this free screen time limit app can show how much time users spend in each app, how many notifications users receive, and how often users check their phones, etc. Help them identify which takes up the most time.

In addition to screen time controls, Digital Wellbeing offers a few other useful features, such as Do Not Disturb for Bedtime mode. This mode allows users to pause mobile phone notifications when go to bed. Keep the screen dark and dim the wallpaper.

Features included

  • Track how users use their smartphones.
  • Limit how much time you spend in an app or a website.
  • Close the app automatically when time runs out.
  • Track how many notifications you received.
  • Record how many times you checked your phone and unlocked the device.
  • Offer Bedtime mode to avoid interruptions at bedtime.
  • Limit interruptions with Do Not Disturb on.
  • Let you connect and manage your child’s device with Family Link.
  • Let you set screen time limit and the bedtime for child.
  • Decide whether your child can download apps from Google Play Store.

Pros

  1. Free to use.
  2. Manage child’s device easily.
  3. Multiple modes to choose.
  4. Useful parental control feature and content filters.
  5. Powerful time tracking feature.

Cons

  1. Only available on Android phones.
  2. Drain the phone battery fast.

Best for

Parents who want to remotely control child's Android phones and manage child’s screen time.

Not for

Those who are looking for an app with low CPU usage.

#9 Apple’s Screen Time

Compatibility: iOS, macOS
Cost: Free
Overall rating: 4.5/5 (Excellent)

iOS 12 or later and macOS Catalina or later come with a feature called Screen Time. Screen Time provides you with statistics on how you spend time on your Apple device. It also offers tools to help you limit the amount of screen time spent on your device.

With it, you limit screen time by limiting the time spent on apps and websites. Once the time limit is reached, apps and websites will become inaccessible.

It can help parents control children’s screen time. It can also help an adult limit his or her own screen time. If you are a parent, it’s recommended to set a Screen Time passcode, which will make it impossible for children to bypass the screen time limits.

Features included

  • Downtime - Set and schedule a downtime during which only apps you have approved will be allowed to run.
  • Get a downtime reminder 5 minutes before the starting time.
  • Set password to lock screentime settings, preventing anyone who doesn’t know the password from making changes.
  • Use the password to extend the time an app may be used.
  • App limits: Set limitations to apps on your device.
  • Set time limits for certain app categories.
  • Communication: Set who can contact the user during screen time and downtime.
  • Set restrictions on explicit content, purchases, downloading, and privacy.
  • Always allowed apps: Set apps that should be available all the time regardless of any restrictions.
  • Content blocking: Block any inappropriate content.

Pros

  1. Build-in feature, totally free
  2. Easy to use.
  3. You can use downtime feature to limit device usage.
  4. Always allowed apps work well for school and educational apps.
  5. Can control who kids can contact.Can use a password to extend the time.

Cons

  1. Only available to iOS 12 or later and macOS Catalina or later
  2. No location tracking and geofencing feature.
  3. Children can easily follow guides online to block the limit.

Best for

For Apple users, it’s an easy, built-in way to help monitor and control device.

Not for

Apple’s Screen Time only blocks website content on the Safari browser. If you need a way to block websites on Chrome and Firefox, then this feature isn’t for you.

#10 Microsoft Family Safety

Compatibility: Windows, Android,iOS
Cost: Free; Premium starts with $9.99/month
Overall rating: 4.5/5 (Excellent)

Microsoft Family Safety

Microsoft Family Safety is an app developed by Microsoft Corporation to help parents manage child’s online activities. This app offers a variety of parental control features, including filtering inappropriate content, setting up safe search, limiting screen time, tracking kids' locations, and more.

Microsoft Family Safety allows parents to set the time limit for children to use the device, such as the maximum available time per day, available time periods, and usage time limits for specific applications. In addition, parents can also monitor their children's device usage time according to their own needs.

Features included

  • Set screen time limit on child’s device.
  • Allow child to send screen time request to parents.
  • Filter inappropriate contents.
  • Set apps and game limits.
  • Monitor child’s online activities.
  • Share location with family numbers.
  • Enables you to add multiple family members.

Pros

  1. Easy to use.
  2. Manage all family members.
  3. Strong content filter.

Cons

  1. Screen time limits only work on Windows and Android devices.

Best for

Those who want to develop healthy digital habits with their families.

Advanced features such as location alert are only available in Premium version.

Not for

Mac users.

Summary

Use the apps to limit screen time in this list to schedule a screen-time limit, block apps and website, so as to help you or your children form good online habits now. You can have a talk with your kids and even sign an agreement with them to start limit screen time on the whole family. So, let’s summarize and take a look at the screen time limit app that best suits your needs.

  • What app is the best to limit screen time for Mac users?

Apple’s Screen time,  AppCrypt

  • What app is the best to limit screen time for Android users?

OurPact, Digital Wellbeing

  • What app is the best to limit screen time while at the same time form a good habit for kids?

AppCrypt, Microsoft Family Safety

  • What app is the best to limit screen time for adults?

Apple’s Screen time, unGlue

  • What apps is the best for multi-platform users?

Qustodio, Norton Family

  • What apps is the best for Content blocking?

AppCrypt, Qustodio, Net Nanny

  • What apps is the best for Social media monitoring?

Qustodio, Norton Family

Do you often feel the need to limit screen time, for your children or for yourself? What app do you do you use? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Rosa Reyes
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Rosa has worked in Mac software industry for more than eight years. She believes that the purpose of software is to make life better and work more productively. In addition to writing, Rosa is also an avid runner.

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