What Are You Using to Monitor Screen Time?

Updated on January 30, 2019
M.E. asks from Rockwall, TX
13 answers

We currently are using the screen time control in our Apple devices to montor screen time, limit time on apps and filter internet content. I have been even using it for myself to monitor my own screen time and be more aware of how much time I am spending on social media. Seems to work just fine. Anyway, I keep hearing about other devices out there that do something similar. One in particular is called Circle. It looks expensive; but if there is something better then I might be interested. Just curious what everyone else is using to monitor their kids devices. Why you like about it and why. We all have iPhone or iPad devices. Thanks for your help!

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So What Happened?

I was hoping to get some useful feedback on devices that I have been hearing about that monitor screen time, limit time on apps and filter internet content. My daughter’s screen time this past week averaged less than 30 minutes per day. So that is a non issue for our household. If you have any feedback on devices that you might be using to monitor screen time, limit apps or filter internet content; that would be great! Just looking to see if there is a better or more efficient device out there. If not, I guess that we will just continue using the Apple one. Thanks!

Featured Answers



answers from New York on

Does the service provider you use offer something? We have Tmobile and it seems when my kids were younger, there was something they offered for small fee to monitor use and give me information about usage on all the devices.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Boston on

Don't you just love the useless and judgy responses? Honestly...my favorites are the "take them away" (as if you are physically with your child all the time) or "my teenagers don't have social media" responses. LOL yes they do, they just hide them well or use them on friends' devices. I can't tell you how many parents I know think their kids aren't on Instagram and Snapchat yet my kids are friends with them on those apps.

Anyway...my youngest (age 13) just got his first phone so now with two kids' phones to monitor as well as a Chromebook, a home computer, an iPad and two gaming systems, all across two households, I'm researching this as well. So far, Norton Family Premier looks like the best choice for me for covering multiple devices on different operating systems (we're on both android and iOS) but I'm also considering Qustodio as well. I have friends who like Circle, but that works on the router only so if your kids have devices that have data, they can bypass the wi-fi and do what they want. If your kids are younger and just have iPads that run on your home network, then it might be a good choice for you. If they have phones though, it won't help with monitoring non-router activity.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Our ISP (Comcast) provides a lot of services for free. Devices are set up on each individual person's profile on our wifi. I have it set to turn off wifi to each person's device at a bedtime and it automatically turns back on at the time I specify in the morning. I can also monitor total time per person on Wifi that way - including all that person's devices (eg, ipod time and time on the laptop are put together for the kid who has those 2 devices)(to be honest, I haven't really tracked that, but the data is available to me if I want it). I also have a safe content filter enabled on the router for all devices that use our wifi (so includes kid's friends when they come over). My kids don't have devices with data plans yet, so for now, the router settings provide most of what I need.

Before we recently switched to Comcast, we had Verizon, and their parental features were far less developed than the Comcast ones are. I didn't know what I was missing, and I really like the features that our service has now.

Obviously no filter is perfect and if a kid with a smartphone comes over and that child has a data plan, I can't control what content they bring up on their phone (with my kid looking over their shoulder) except by being present. There is only so much that can be done through automated services. But, when the resources such as those offered by Comcast are there, available to me for free, I will take full advantage of them. It can't hurt.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Why does it have to cost money? If you really need to control screen time just collect the devices in a basket during certain hours, including TV remotes. Or disable the wifi for a period of time.
Sometimes I think we make things more complicated than they need to be :-/

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Ask the Geek Squad at Best Buy.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

I haven't looked into this as much as I should, but I completely understand where you are coming from. My 12 year old has a phone BECAUSE my husband and I both work. We (I) need to know that he gets home at the end of the day. Yesterday when the temperature outside was 12 degrees, I needed to know that he was inside the house. I knew he had his key in the morning, but what if it had fallen off his backpack or something had happened? We don't have a landline, so he needs a phone.

My husband and I cannot be with him 24/7, and we shouldn't be. He's 12! (not 5). Still, a phone I a lot of responsibility, and we need to balance things. We do monitor his phone. We do look at his apps and messages and ask him questions. He knows we do this. Still, I know we are probably missing things, and I know that he might try to get away with something - he's only human.

I'll be checking your question again to see what else I might learn, but I just wanted you to know that you are not alone! There are many of us out there working very hard to be vigilant that will feel better if we have a little "app help!"

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

We use Qustodio, it's quite good but we have all android and windows devices and I know it has less features for apple devices. It has screen time limit (we set it to the recommended 1 hour a day), preset hours of the day to spend that (not at night, homeworks and meals), apps block and phone setting block (essential to avoid unistalling), web monitor, geo tracking and something more.
For what I've seen looking for good not easy unistalling parental control, Norton family and Mspy are very good too (I'm just thinking to switch to Mspy, it's quite complete parental control) and maybe they work very well on iphone/ipad too. Circle (Disney?) is only a web filter to add to your router, so it could be very useful but I prefer having more control on their screen activities, especially history and time limits, then we already pay the qustodio fee and it would be an additional cost for us.

To the moms thinking just only firsthand checking their children devices is enough ...please change your opinion, look online for more info, it's totally not enough. It's useful, surely something that must be done (I still do too), but if you wish to prevent screen addiction, visual defects, inappropriate/immoral content, violence, sexting, sharing personal inappropriate data, very bad influences, cyberbulling, online scams, and more ...then a parental control is absolutely indispensable! All of us use these devices and often we cannot even understand how much dangerous these can be for our children, especially these new social apps just for teens of which we have no knowledge at all. Internet is an endless world, we know and use just only a very small part. Except if you are with your children all day long every day, you may not be aware of their screen addiction or some undergoing problems with peers. Also it's totally not something about trust or their good intentions, often they are victims of others or just in dangerous situations that seem completely normal (like sharing personal data/photos). There are so many devastating facts about teens and technologies, continuously growing, our parents role is to keep children safe from that.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

The day I have to use an app to get my kids to follow my rules is the day they don’t have a phone anymore 🤷‍♀️

My 9yo has an iPod, my 13yo and 16yo have iPhones. The phones stay downstairs in the common areas, never upstairs in the bedrooms, and they all know I’ll check MY phone that they have the privilege of using anytime I please.

My kids aren’t allowed social media(FB, Snapchat, Instagram, Google Plus, Twitter, etc) until they are at least 18.

We have a big charging basket in the kitchen that all electronic devices go in at 8pm(or whenever they get home, swim team/dance often run later than that).

So, I treat the phone as I treat other rules/privileges... they’re informed of the rules and expected to follow them. Phones are taken away if rules aren’t followed. They’ve all learned how easy it is to lose track of time while playing on phone and many times will set alarm on phone for 30 minutes or so.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

We use Apple screen time and we like it. I wish it would show you more details about which apps they used or gave you more control to block specific apps instead of categories. It was great when my son was grounded because I could block everything, but his phone access and still be able to reach him. (All his friends text, so it basically hobbled his social contact without impending mine)

I monitor my son’s phone regularly by scanning his texts and looking through his apps and I never saw anything amiss. Until I decided to check his unused email account and found he had been on Snap Chat for over 3 months and had hidden the app.

It never hurts to have a second set of electronic eyes monitoring with you.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Thank you for this question.

I wasn't sure exactly what you were asking so I hauled out my daughter's iPad and iPod. Now I have screen limits on things for her.

I don't view this the same as monitoring how long she's on her devices. I still boot her off if she's on too long. My older kids can monitor themselves and we already establish rules in our home when they were younger.

For me, what is good about what you've suggested is - we're just leaving her alone for periods of time, and she will get stuck on her iPad for a while, and I find she gets nauseous staring at that little screen (worse on iPod). Even half an hour on an app I approve of makes her feel queasy. Knowing it will time off is great. So thank you.

My kids use their devices primarily for communication (texting)(my older kids) and here - they all use it for Netflix. So for me, it's like TV - same as my mom used to do, we have rules. If everything else is done, I'm ok with some downtime.

The thing is, if we're not here, how do monitor how much time they are spending on watching TV. You can't really. My mom used to call from work and say "Did you mow the lawn like I asked?" - and I guess we're the same. I just like knowing I can do parental controls (like this better than Norton, which I found terribly slow - so much that everyone complained) and I like that at least they are not staring at their small screens).

I don't know if that concerns anyone else. I just hate those tiny iPod screens. iPhone screens are the same - kids watching those for hours upon hours. Even if they are watching a movie - drives me nuts.

I tell them you're supposed to take a break after 20 minutes (used to tell us at work) - but you can get sucked in. So that's what I find helpful about your question - thank you :)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

They do not get screen time from Sunday dinnertime till Friday after school. Since school uses ipads and lap tops daily. I do not feel that they need additional time after that.
On weekends they are allowed to use their Amazon free time and I set the allowed time and content allowed.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

The best device I know of is expensive, well, priceless.

A vigilant parent.

Online reviews all agree - great stuff!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Taking the devices away for a time works really well and doesn't cost anything.
When you have the devices you check to see what they are accessing and check up on social media activity.
Monitoring means you look at what they are doing and you don't hand that duty off to an app to do it for you.
Our son didn't have a smart phone till he graduated high school.
A basic phone with no data plan - something just to make calls and text - was all he needed in high school and he didn't have a phone at all till he was in 9th grade.

1 mom found this helpful
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