5 Best Apps for Limiting Screen Time in 2024: 100% Tested

Updated on: May 28, 2024
Fact Checked by Eric Goldstein
Kristel van Hoof Kristel van Hoof
Updated on: May 28, 2024 Writer

Short on time? Here’s the best app for limiting screen time in 2024:

  • 🥇 Qustodio : Lets you set up a daily screen time allowance in increments of 15 minutes and restrict specific time periods. You can also completely block access to your kid’s device (but they can still make emergency calls).

The best way to effectively limit screen time for your kids is with a parental control app. These apps come with helpful tools that allow you to decide how much time your kid is spending on their phone or computer, create schedules for screen time, and even block certain apps and sites.

But I found that not many parental control apps are ideal for this. A lot of them simply don’t have a screen time feature, many of those that do only offer the most basic functions, and there are plenty of parental control apps that your kid can easily bypass.

After testing 30+ parental apps, I found that Qustodio is the best one. It has a flexible screen time limit feature and comes with a lot of useful extra tools.

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Quick summary of the best apps for limiting screen time:

  • 🥇 1. Qustodio — Best parental control app for limiting screen time with a great app time limits feature.
  • 🥈 2. Norton Family — Excellent parental control app for limiting screen time + flexible web filtering.
  • 🥉 3. Bark — Great for creating different app & web time rules for different times of the day.
  • 4. FamiSafe — Beginner-friendly parental control app for limiting your child’s screen time.
  • 5. Mobicip — Good parental control app for setting customizable app & web time limits.

🥇1. Qustodio — Best Overall App for Limiting Screen Time

Approved by our experts
Qustodio
Approved by our experts
Most readers pick Qustodio
Web filtering
Excellent
OS compatibility
Money-back guarantee
30 Days
qustodio.com

Qustodio is the best app for limiting screen time. It allows you to set daily screen time limits in 15-minute increments and sends you an alert when your child reaches their screen time limit — this means you won’t have to check when your kid’s screen time is up.

I like that Qustodio lets you decide what happens when your child’s screen time is up. You get different options on different devices, but your choices are either to Lock Navigation, which is typically a good option if your kid still needs their phone or computer for homework, or Lock Device, which enforces stricter restrictions.

  • Lock Navigation:
  • Android, Chromebook, and Kindle: Blocks access to all apps except essential ones like the calendar and calculator.
  • iOS: Disables internet access on the device.
  • Windows and macOS: Prevents internet access on all web browsers.
  • Lock Device:
  • Chromebook and Kindle: Restricts access to the entire device.
  • Android: Restricts access to the entire device, allowing only emergency calls and the use of the Panic Button.
  • iOS: Hides any app rated for ages 4+ in the app store.
  • Windows and macOS: Logs out the user, preventing both online and offline use.

🥇1. Qustodio — Best Overall App for Limiting Screen Time

In addition to standard time limits, Qustodio allows you to restrict specific time periods. For example, I disabled phone access from 5pm to 7pm to make sure that my kid focused on their school project. It works the other way around, too — you can set specific hours when your kid can use their phone. I also found it helpful that Qustodio divides the day into Morning, Afternoon, and Night, which makes setting up restricted times much easier and quicker.

I think it’s great that there’s an option to set time limits for specific apps. This can be very useful if your child is working on something that requires access to the internet, but you also want to make sure that they’re not spending their time scrolling on TikTok or chatting on Snapchat.

Qustodio offers a free plan and 2 premium plans. The free plan includes basic screen time management for 1 device but doesn’t allow you to set time limits for specific apps. The Basic plan ($54.95 / year) covers up to 5 devices and includes features like screen time management and scheduling. The Complete plan ($99.95 / year) offers coverage for unlimited devices, screen time management, scheduling, and additional features like call and SMS monitoring. All of its plans are backed by a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.

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Bottom Line:

Qustodio is the best app for limiting screen time. You can set daily screen time restrictions using 15-minute increments, get alerts when your child reaches their screen time limit, and decide whether to lock their device or set more lenient restrictions. You can also restrict specific time periods and set time limits for individual apps. All of Qustodio’s plans are backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read the full Qustodio review

🥈2. Norton Family — Excellent for Limiting Screen Time + Web Content

Web filtering
Excellent
OS compatibility
Money-back guarantee
60 Days
us.norton.com

Norton Family is an excellent pick for setting custom web filters during specific hours thanks to its unique School Time feature that allows you to decide what your child can and can’t see in a certain period of the day. For example, you can set it up so your kid won’t have access to YouTube or Reddit when they’re at school, which is very convenient.

Its Time Supervision feature allows you to set daily screen time limits in increments of 30 minutes. I like how easy it is to use — all I needed to do was select the desired day and use dropdown menus to set the screen time allowance. However, unlike Qustodio, it doesn’t allow you to set time limits for specific apps (it does allow you to block individual apps).

🥈2. Norton Family — Excellent for Limiting Screen Time + Web Content

I really like how you can schedule screen time limits for each day, too. Norton Family divides the day into Day and Night and lets you select the time range you wish to block or allow.

If you don’t want to bother, there are predefined schedules based on age categories. These schedules include designated screen time limits for weekdays and weekends, which I really like since not a lot of parental control apps give you this option.

When your child’s screen time is up, they can still use their device. They won’t be able to access any apps, but they’ll be able to make emergency calls to whitelisted contacts, which I think is great.

I like that Norton Family also provides the option for kids to request additional screen time. This is something that not a lot of parental control features offer, and it can really come in handy when your kid is out with friends or needs some extra time to finish something they’re working on.

Norton Family is very affordable and costs only $49.99 / year. It’s also included in Norton’s comprehensive 360 Deluxe internet security package, which costs $49.99 / year* and comes with antivirus protection, a firewall, web protection, device optimization tools, a password manager, a virtual private network (VPN), and more. All Norton purchases are backed by a generous 60-day money-back guarantee.

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Bottom Line:

Norton Family has a unique feature that restricts certain content during specific hours, which is really helpful if your child needs internet access for homework, but you want to make sure they’re not spending any time on sites like YouTube. It also has a good screen time limit feature and offers predefined schedules based on age categories. Norton Family is budget-friendly and backed by a 60-day money-back guarantee.

Read the full Norton Family review

🥉 3. Bark — Good for App & Web Time Schedules

Web filtering
Excellent
OS compatibility
Money-back guarantee
N/A
bark.us

Bark’s screen time management allows you to create schedules for apps and websites at different times of the day. This gives you control over what your child can access during school hours, bedtime, or free time, which is great. Plus, I really think it’s convenient that you can set a weekly schedule ahead of time.

I like that Bark gives you the flexibility to temporarily change the screen time rules or just disable web access for a while, without having to change the whole weekly schedule. It’s very handy in situations where your child has extra homework or is on vacation.

🥉 3. Bark — Good for App & Web Time Schedules

But Bark can’t set time limits for individual apps like Qustodio. And during restricted times, it only disables the internet and not apps, so your kid will still be able to play offline games and use apps that don’t require an internet connection. This can be a downside if your kid is younger, but I think it’s good if you have older kids, as it lets them have some control over their phone activity.

Bark’s apps are very beginner-friendly. They all come with a clever layout and well-explained features — it only took me a couple of minutes to go through all of them and set a daily or weekly schedule for my kid’s phone. The one thing that surprised me was that you have to download the Bark for Kids Android app from the official Bark website rather than the app store, which is slightly inconvenient.

Bark offers 2 plans: Bark Jr. ($49.00 / year) and Bark Premium ($14.00 / month). The screen monitoring features are included in both plans, but Bark Premium also adds advanced features such as social media monitoring. Unfortunately, there’s no money-back guarantee, but you can test the app via its 7-day free trial.

Try Bark risk-free for 7 days!
Use Bark's 100% free trial to see if it’s the right parental control for you.

Bottom Line:

Bark’s screen time management feature is great for creating custom schedules for app and website access in 1-hour increments. I like that the feature is pretty flexible, and you can set up one-off screen time rules and disable web access at any time. However, Bark doesn’t lock your kid’s phone when their time is up — the only thing they won’t be able to do is use the internet. Bark’s plans include a 7-day free trial but lack a money-back guarantee.

Read the full Bark review

4. FamiSafe — User-Friendly App for Limiting Screen Time

Web filtering
Very good
OS compatibility
Money-back guarantee
7 Days
famisafe.wondershare.com

FamiSafe offers user-friendly apps for setting screen time limits that are great if you’ve never really used a parental control app before. I like how all the features are accessible within a single menu on the left side and that it’s easy to customize the screen time settings to your liking within seconds.

I really like the screen time limit feature because it gives you more granular control. On Windows and macOS, FamiSafe allows you to restrict the overall screen time for a certain period of time or during specific hours or days. When the time is up, your child receives a 1-minute timer to finish their tasks. On Chromebook, Kindle Fire, Android, and iOS, you can also restrict screen time for individual apps, which you can also do with Qustodio, but your kid won’t get any warning that their time is up.

4. FamiSafe — User-Friendly App for Limiting Screen Time

There’s also an Instant Block feature that immediately closes any running apps on your kid’s phone and stops them from opening any other apps. When that happens, FamiSafe will send them a pop-up notification, telling them they’ve reached their screen time limit.

Your kid can send you a request for more time, just like with Norton Family. I like this feature, and it worked great on every device except for Chromebook, where I could still browse the internet and interact with apps if I minimized the pop-up notification.

FamiSafe has several premium plans with different subscription lengths. The only difference between the plans is the number of devices that can be used simultaneously. The plan that offers the best value is the annual plan, which costs $59.99 / year and covers an unlimited number of devices. All plans come with a 7-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line:

FamiSafe offers user-friendly apps that allow you to set screen time limits hassle-free. It lets you limit screen time for a certain period or restrict screen time throughout certain parts of the day. I really like that your kid can ask for more screen time in the FamiSafe app and that you can instantly block access to all apps on their phone with one tap. FamiSafe’s premium plans are backed by a 7-day money-back guarantee.

Read the full FamiSafe review

5. Mobicip — Great for Customizable Time Limits

Web filtering
Very good
OS compatibility
Money-back guarantee
30 Days
mobicip.com

Mobicip gives you a lot of granular control over your child’s phone usage. It allows you to create an unlimited number of custom app and web filters for specific times of the day and week with precise 5-minute increments.

There’s also an option to set daily limits on your child’s screen time. The app considers any unscheduled time as “free time,” and the time your child spends on their device during these periods is deducted from their Daily Free Time Limit, the time where they have access to everything on their phone, which you can also limit and adjust using 15-minute increments. Unfortunately, Mobicip doesn’t let you set screen time limits for specific apps. Instead, you can only do so for the general app categories of Social Media, Entertainment, and Games.

5. Mobicip — Great for Customizable Time Limits

Once the daily time is up, your child can’t use their device anymore (except for emergency calls). I really like that Mobicip alerts your child when their Daily Free Time Limit is about to expire and allows them to request additional time directly through the app — this is something you’ll also get with Norton Family.

It also offers a Vacation Mode,- which overrides the regular schedule. This allows you to set more relaxed app and web filters or generous Daily Free Time Limits for family vacations or summer break, for example.

Mobicip offers 3 subscription plans: Lite, Standard, and Premium. Although all plans allow you to set screen time limits, only the Premium plan ($7.99 / month) allows you to limit individual app usage by category. You can try the plans risk-free with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line:

Mobicip allows you to create custom screen time schedules. You can customize its app and web filters with 5-minute increments and set daily screen time limits. It’s great that it alerts your child when time is about to expire, allows requests for additional time, and has a unique Vacation Mode feature that lets you set more relaxed filters and time limits for a set period of time. Mobicip’s plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read the full Mobicip review

Quick Comparison Table

Parental Control App Starting Price Allows Time Limits for Individual Apps Allows Child to Request Extra Screen Time Allows Setting Temporary Exceptions Number of Devices Money-Back Guarantee
1.🥇Qustodio $54.95 / year 5 or Unlimited 30 days
2.🥈Norton Family $49.99 / year Unlimited 60 days
3.🥉Bark $5.00 / month Unlimited
4. FamiSafe $9.99 / month 5, 10, or Unlimited 7 days
5. Mobicip $2.99 / month 5–20 30 days

Testing Methodology: Comparison & Ranking Criteria

Following our rigorous testing methodology, I carefully evaluated numerous parental control apps to determine which ones best help manage and limit screen time for children. This involved a series of structured tests to compare features and effectiveness, ensuring that I recommend only the best parental control apps.

When selecting the top parental control apps for managing screen time, I looked for and tested several key factors:

  • I evaluated screen time controls. The best apps, like Qustodio, offered the most granular control for limiting screen times, allowing parents to set limits on kids’ total daily use of their devices, as well as specific times of the day and days of the week when access is permitted.
  • I tested app management capabilities. I chose apps that allow you to control which apps your child can access and at what times. The top apps I tested ensure that you can easily block or allow apps, helping to prevent inappropriate content access while encouraging educational usage.
  • I assessed ease of use. It’s crucial that the apps are easy to use for parents, and ideally, gives kids the ability to request more screen time if needed. I only recommend apps that parents can set up and manage without hassle. For example, Norton Family provides an intuitive interface that makes it easy for parents to adjust settings and monitor activity.Testing Methodology: Comparison & Ranking Criteria
  • I checked for real-time tracking features. Real-time activity tracking lets you see what your children are accessing online as it happens. All apps I recommend provide comprehensive reports and real-time updates, ensuring you are always informed of your kids’ online activities.
  • I inspected the responsiveness of customer support. Reliable customer support is important, especially when dealing with the safety of children. The parental control apps I suggest all have responsive support teams that assist promptly with any issues or queries you may have.

Top Brands That Didn’t Make the Cut

  • Kaspersky Safe Kids. Allows you to set screen time limits, but you can’t block your kids’ iOS devices when their screen time is up.
  • mSpy. Allows you to monitor your child’s social media accounts, but it doesn’t support time limits for specific apps. It also doesn’t allow you to set schedules either.
  • Eyezy. Has social monitoring, but it doesn’t allow you to set screen time limits or schedule your child’s device usage.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I set screen time limits for individual apps?

Yes, some of the top parental apps allow you to set time restrictions for specific apps. This is great if you want to allow more time for educational apps, but at the same time, restrict social media and gaming apps. I recommend Qustodio, as it comes with time limits for individual apps, daily limits, and a scheduling option.

What happens when my child reaches the designated screen time limit?

It depends on the parental control app. Some apps lock the device entirely, others only lock certain apps, and there are some that only disable internet access. I like that some parental apps, including Norton Family and FamiSafe, allow your child to ask permission for extra time after they’ve reached their time limit.

Can parental control apps be bypassed or disabled by tech-savvy children?

Most top parental control apps come with uninstall protection to ensure that your child can’t disable the app. For example, Qustodio requires you to type in your parental app username and password when you want to uninstall the kids’ apps. This way, your child can’t secretly uninstall the apps to prevent tracking.

Are there any free parental control apps available for limiting screen time?

Although there are free parental control apps, I don’t recommend them. They often come with annoying ads, have buggy interfaces, their features don’t always work properly, and they can compromise your child’s device security. I recommend opting for an affordable premium parental app instead, such as Qustodio.

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About the Author
Kristel van Hoof
Updated on: May 28, 2024

About the Author

Kristel van Hoof is a former tech researcher and writer for SafetyDetectives with a keen interest in online privacy and cybersecurity. For more than 3 years now, she has been testing and reviewing VPNs and other products for online data protection. When she’s not writing for Safety Detectives, she's dancing with her kids, traveling around the world, and cooking her favorite dishes.