4 Apps to Help Tweens and Teens With Self-Control

By Common Sense Media

Expert reviewed by Jamie Martin

Teens and tweens who learn and think differently may struggle with self-control for a number of reasons. Certain apps can help them think before they act, keep their emotions in check, and stay focused on specific goals. Here are four apps that may help teens and tweens with self-control.

Price and availability may vary but were accurate at the time of publication, on January 3, 2020. Understood does not endorse or receive financial compensation for the sale of any of these products.


Forest is a simple game that rewards kids (or adults!) for not using their phones. Here’s how it works. Your child plants a seed in the ground. Within 30 minutes, the seed can grow into a tree. But if your child exits the app to use the phone, the tree dies. While the tree grows, the app displays messages like “Put down your phone” and “Leave me alone!” It keeps track of how long your child has waited for each tree and how many times your child put the phone down over time.

Price: $1.99

Available for: Android, iOS

ReThink—Stop Cyberbullying

Created by a teen activist, ReThink—Stop Cyberbullying monitors what kids type into their mobile device. If a child types a word or phrase that could be cyberbullying, a pop-up comes up. The pop-up might say: “Rethink! Don’t say things you may regret later!” This gives kids who struggle with impulse control a chance to reconsider before sending a hurtful message online. To use the app, kids have to remember to select the app’s keyboard. While the app catches most swear words and bad language, it’s not perfect and won’t stop all cyberbullying.

Price: Free

Available for: Android, iOS

Stop, Breathe & Think

Using guided meditation and breathing exercises, Stop, Breathe & Think can help kids de-stress and get in touch with their thoughts and feelings. Kids first select words and images that illustrate their state of mind. Then the app gives them a list of appropriate meditation exercises to do. It also tracks their total meditation time and how “settled” they feel. For beginners, the app includes a primer on how to meditate.

Price: Free

Available for: Android, iOS

Pomodoro Apps

The “Pomodoro Technique” is a time management method that focuses on working in blocks of time, usually 20 to 30 minutes. After each block of time, there’s a 3- to 5-minute break. Then there’s a longer break of 15 to 30 minutes after four blocks. You can try lots of free Pomodoro apps for both iOS and Android to see which one works best for your child—just search for the word pomodoro. (That’s Italian for tomato.)

Price: Free

Available for: iOS, Android