WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
To use Onward – Reduce Tech Addiction, first enter your name. Then choose one of three issues you need help with: Screen Time, Gambling, or Porn. Tap "first steps" to watch the intro video. To continue, allow all network activity on your phone to be filtered through a VPN. Next, the app asks if you'd like to upgrade to Pro to block "disruptive" apps and websites. Even if you say no, the app turns the Pro version on for a week-long trial. The app will begin tracking your usage and send your first report within 24-hours.
IS IT ANY GOOD?
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Whether the problem is "overuse" or "addiction," this app is designed to help your teen become aware of the time spent on their device, but – other than the subscription – the price is privacy. Onward – Reduce Tech Addiction's developer reports that in two studies it conducted, 89 percent of Onward Pro users reduced their tech usage and 51 percent stopped entirely. Still, if a teen's not motivated to change, this app's effectiveness will likely be limited. For example, the Pro version can block unwanted website and apps with a filter, but that filter can be "snoozed." Onward can share weekly reports with others to help the user maintain accountability, but only if they want it shared. There's a lot this app can do – give mindfulness tips, AI-based coaching, even create a "customized behavior change program" – but if your teen doesn't think their tech time is a problem, don't expect this app to convince them otherwise. And it's important to emphasize that installing the app on your kid's phone means that app is tracking what your kid does on that phone – and that data may be shared with third parties. If you're concerned about privacy, it might be better to start with the device controls, conversations, and a family media agreement before giving up so much data.
RATING AND CONTENT
Recommended for ages 15 and older
Quality: 3 out of 5
Educational value: 3 out of 5
Ease of play: 4 out of 5
Violence: 0 out of 5
Sex: 0 out of 5
Language: 0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, and smoking: 0 out of 5
Consumerism: 3 out of 5 (Are products/advertisements embedded? Is the title part of a broader marketing initiative/empire? Is the intent to sell things to kids?)
Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
Price: Free / Subscription price: $4.99/month for Basic account
Release date: September 25, 2017
Category: Health and Fitness
Size: 334.00 MB
Publisher: Onward Method, Inc.
Minimum software requirements: iOS 10.0 or later
Common Sense Media is an independent nonprofit organization offering unbiased ratings and trusted advice to help families make smart media and technology choices. Check out our ratings and recommendations at www.commonsense.org.