Limiting screen time
Worried about your kids getting YouTube-induced square eyes? Enter ScreenLimit, an app that allows parents to remotely manage their children's screen time. We asked 25 Mumsnetters to road-test the app – here's what they thought
How does ScreenLimit work?
Once ScreenLimit is downloaded on all devices, parents can set a daily screen time allowance, instantly block access to sites, schedule times of the day when devices cannot be used, allow or block specific apps (coming soon to iOS), send their children direct messages, and even reward good behaviour (whether that’s completed homework or clean plates in your house) with bonus screen time.
The app is cross-platform and available on multiple devices, including Windows PCs, Apple, Android and Amazon devices – though not the Kindle Fire Kids Edition.
The Healthius verdict
We asked 25 Mumsnetters to put ScreenLimit to the test and use it to take control of screen time in their own families – you can see what they thought about it below.
If you want to try out ScreenLimit for yourself, you can start your free trial here.
Is ScreenLimit useful for managing screen time?
Mumsnetters were impressed by the amount of control provided by the variety of features available on ScreenLimit and, in some cases, seemed to glean a certain satisfaction from setting the timer countdown.
“It is extremely useful. The timer works very well and does what it says on the tin. I have set the timer for my children and told them to come upstairs when 20 minutes are up. The roars of outrage after 20 minutes were a joy to hear!”
“My daughter seems to be more accepting when the time limit has expired, rather than when I tell her time's up!”
How user-friendly did you find ScreenLimit?
Testers concluded that the app was a little tricky to set up, but easy to maintain once all was up and running. ScreenLimit have also taken Mumsnetters' feedback on board and improved the set-up process since the product test.
“I found it tricky to start with but then my 13 year old showed me how to use it – he found it very user-friendly!”
“Some parts of it were very user-friendly. The set up itself is a bit fiddly and it took me a while to work out that I had to put my PIN into all their devices as well, but once set up the timer works well.”
“It was very straightforward and intuitive to use, very well designed.”
“Initial setup is easy, as is setting the timer. The icons and controls could do with being a bit bigger. Sometimes I had to close and reopen the app for the blocked apps to be available.”
What did you think about the reward system?
The built-in reward system was a particular favourite as it offers children the chance to “earn” screen time by completing tasks and household chores – formalising a deal that is frequently struck many households already.
“I often reward good behaviour with an extra 10 or 15 minutes so really liked this feature.”
“I was particularly impressed with this feature. It made it easier to introduce changes in the amount of time my daughter used her iPad by making her view this time as a treat rather than something she can do for hours.”
What does ScreenLimit do really well?
Basically, it does what it says on the tin. It's a quick, effective way of limiting the amount of time kids spend on devices and, if necessary, of cutting them off entirely.
“It's fast. Children sat next to each other arguing about Minecraft – one quick flick of two buttons and their apps all disappear.”
“It does the screen-time limiting very effectively, so that's a bonus!”
“It is great as a general app to control the amount of time your children spend on electronic devices.”
“Design – the app is clear and easy to use and this is what makes it so effective.”
Are there any other features that you would like to see?
Feedback suggested that Mumsnetters would like the capability to differentiate more easily between school work hours and leisure browsing.
ScreenLimit are actually already working on improving this functionality. They say that parents can already differentiate between educational use and leisure browsing on Android, Amazon Kindle and Windows PCs. This allows for the possibility to grant unlimited access to educational apps whilst blocking or timing all other apps. This feature is in development on iOS and is due for release in early 2018.
Try ScreenLimit and put a stop to endless arguments
If you’re a parent, then no doubt you’ve experienced the battles that can arise when you’re trying to persuade your children to get some fresh air and they’re glued to yet another YouTube video about Minecraft…
ScreenLimit is free to download and comes with 1000 minutes of screen time to allocate, after which there are monthly, annual and one-off subscription options – it turns out you can put a price on domestic harmony (and it’s not too steep). Sign up for the Mumsnet-exclusive extended free trial here and enjoy 1000 extra free minutes.