If the children refuse to get fresh air or help around the house because they are glued to their screen, it is time to set some boundaries. Like you, I have relaxed my rules in response to the difficulties of. But sometimes it is enough. There must be some limit to the number of YouTube videos a child can watch in a single day, right?
Enter Apple's screen time feature forand . It's built-in and tracks and monitors how much time you spend on your devices and can lock you or your kids out of apps after you've reached a certain time. You can even block access to your child's Apple device at a set time each night, preventing them from staying up past their bedside and playing their favorite games under the covers.
Before you start monitoring a child's device usage, I recommend using screen time on your own devices to familiarize yourself with the feature. Screen time is quite complicated, with many settings and functions disconnected in different menus.
Turn on screen time for yourself
Screen time monitors and helps you track or limit your use on iPhone, iPad and Mac. You must set up the service on each device you use. For a complete picture of total usage, be sure to enable screen time and the option Share Across Devices . This will ensure that the time spent on your iPhone, iPad and Mac is calculated together.
On an iPhone or iPad
1. Open the app Settings .
2. Select Screen Time .
3. Press Turn on screen time .
4. When prompted to select This is my iPhone / iPad .
On a Mac
1. Open System Settings .
2. Select Screen time.
3. Make sure your name is selected in the drop-down list under your user profile photo.
4. Click Option in the lower left corner.
5. Select Turn on .
Use screen time for your child
To use screen time to monitor and control a child's device usage, you must first set up Apple Family Sharing service. There are many benefits of family sharing, one of which saves money by sharing purchases between members. If you haven't used it yet,.
With family sharing enabled and your children's accounts added, you can remotely enable screen time on their devices. On your iPhone or iPad, this can be done by going to Settings > Screen time > select your child's name> Turn on screen time . Go to a Mac, go to System Settings > Screen Time > select your child's name from the list box> Turn on Screen Time .
Be sure to create a screen time code when prompted. Do not skip this step . This password is what is used to prevent a child from disabling screen time or changing parental control settings. It's also worth pointing out that you shouldn't choose a password that your kids can easily guess – I made the mistake the first time I set screen time and couldn't figure out why it continued to be disabled on my child's iPod touch. Kids are smart.
Screen time is on, what now?
After enabling screen time, you immediately see a graph that tracks how much time you spend in an app or website. Click See All Activity for a breakdown of the current day, the last seven days, what apps you spent your time in, the number of times you pick up your phone each day, and how many notifications you receive – – and from what apps. Every Sunday you receive a warning with your statistics and trends.
Under the activity graph, there are several different screen time categories that you can customize to meet your personal goals, or help limit your child's device usage. Here's a quick breakdown of what each one does:
Downtime : When enabled, only the apps listed in Always Allowed and Phone Calls are available. Create a custom schedule to, for example, activate shutdowns close to bedtime so you can start relaxing and unwinding.
App Limits : Set daily time limits for specific apps or app categories. Once the time limit is reached, the app will display a splash screen to let you know that your time limit has been reached. Don't worry, you can override the limit or your child can send a request for more time if more time is needed.
Communication Restrictions : You can control who your child talks to and for how long, daily. This setting applies to phone, FaceTime, messaging and iCloud contacts.
Always Allowed : Select the apps you always want to be available, even during downtime. By default, phones, messages, FaceTime and maps are marked as always allowed.
Content and privacy restrictions : This is where you go to block mature content, require purchase approval on a child's device, restrict downloads, and adjust privacy settings.
Take a few minutes to go through each section and familiarize yourself with its options.
A note on parental control
Getting the right combination of these settings right will take some time, especially for your child's account. When I started using screen time to disable my children's devices at bedtime, I left messages marked as an always allowed app. At that time, they just communicated to each other, my wife and myself.
What I didn't realize or even thought about was the fact that they had access to iMessage apps like Game Pigeon – an app that lets you play turn-based games in an iMessage conversation. It took me a few weeks to realize the reason they used messages far past their bedtime is that they actually played.
Now they are limited to podcasts and music when operating hours are turned on at bedtime.
Another hiccup I have encountered with one of their accounts is that the screen time settings I specified on my device were not synchronized with their devices. I still have no idea why, but I have come up with a solution should you encounter the same problem. First, turn off screen time for their account on your device and then go through setting screen time with their device. Select This Is My Child's device set your password and adjust their settings.
After mastering screen time, be sure to check out all of the. For more general tips and tricks for iPhone and iPad, . If you are new to Mac, .