5 Apps to Help Tweens and Teens With Self-Control

By Common Sense Media, Understood Founding Partner
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Teens and tweens with learning and thinking differences 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 five apps that may help teens and tweens with self-control. For more ideas, take a look at Tech Finder.

Price and availability may vary but were accurate at the time of publication, on February 25, 2016. 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 his 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 he’s put his phone down over time.

Price: $0.99

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


Kids who struggle with self-control may have trouble getting started on tasks and end up rushing through homework. 30/30 is a timer that can help kids manage tasks. Your child adds tasks to the app, along with specific amounts of time to work on each task. He might add: “Do homework, 10 minutes.” The timer runs as your child does the task. Then he can cross off tasks as he finishes them. Kids can use this app to help them focus on one task at a time, or break up a big task into smaller ones. The app’s graphics and interface are simple. It’s a good fit for kids in middle and high school, and even beyond.

Price: Free

Available for: iOS

Pomodoro Timer

This app is a timer that can help kids stay on task using the “Pomodoro Technique.” This time management method 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. Pomodoro Timer shows the progress kids are making on each block of time. Kids can adjust the length of the blocks of time if they need more frequent breaks.

Price: $1.99

Available for: iOS (there are comparable “Pomodoro” apps for Android)

About the Author

About the Author

Common Sense Media, Understood Founding Partner 

is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping kids and families thrive in a world of media and technology.

Reviewed by

Reviewed by

Jamie Martin 

is an assistive technology specialist at the New England Assistive Technology Center (NEAT) in Hartford, Connecticut.

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