Apps to Help Limit Screen Time

Reading Time: 2 minutesThere’s An App For That – Helping Screen Addiction

Modern digital devices have been designed to make them as compelling as possible so it’s not surprising many of us struggle with finding a healthy balance. And this applies as much to parents as it does to children!

Whilst relying on technical controls is never as good as using dialogue, agreement, boundaries and consequences, the following apps, extensions and tools can be useful in our attempts to reign in screen use.

Family Link

Family Link (Android & iOS) – this Google app allows you to monitor and control the devices used within your family, setting app, time and content limits. Whilst it is best to help children to control their own device usage, smartphones can be very hard to manage due to their highly portable and engaging nature, and so we recommend this be installed on any phone used by a child.

Screen Time

Screen Time(Mac) – this collection of Apple controls allows Mac users to monitor and limit their own device usage, as well as that of their children. Ideally, children should only be using screens in public areas of the house, without headphones, and with attentive parents nearby. Such in-person monitoring, coupled with discussion and clear expectations, generally performs better than technical controls in the long term.

Rescue Time

RescueTime (Firefox & Chrome) – these browser extensions allow you and your children to review the time spent in your browser, making it possible to spot patterns and adjust usage patterns towards the positive.


SelfControl (Mac), ColdTurkey (Windows), Monastery (Firefox) StayFocusd (Chrome) – these apps and extensions invite users to take control of their own browsing habits through the use of timed block- and allow-lists. The Mac and Windows apps tend to be better than the browser extensions, as they can gain more control over the device and so are harder to circumvent. Either way, these apps are always most effective when used by willing participants, rather than when mandated.

AdBlock Plus

AdBlock Plus (Firefox & Chrome) – these extensions block adverts before they are displayed in a webpage, which not only protects your privacy, but also reduces distraction.

As our digital world continues to evolve, it’s essential for both parents and children to maintain a healthy balance between screen time and real-life experiences. By utilizing these apps and tools, you can encourage mindful tech usage while prioritizing family bonding and exploration. Whether you’re traveling, discovering new places, or simply spending quality time together, finding the right balance between screen time and real-world connections can help create lasting memories and foster a healthier lifestyle.

You might find the following articles of interest:

Young Peoples Mental Health in the Digital Age

The Ultimate Guide to Internet Safety for Kids

Screen Time and Children: Balancing Entertainment and Education

Ross Parker is an educational leader, technologist and author of Screens That Eat Children. He teaches at International College Hong Kong. As a general rule, Ross recommends that children below the age of 13 should not have a smartphone nor use social media. Once children have a firm foundation of positive screen use, such tools can be carefully introduced over time. The longer you can delay the use of these tools the better, as their use by adolescents is strongly associated with a range of mental health challenges.


Subscribe to our newsletter!

Stay up-to-date with all the latest news, views and giveaways in Hong Kong