What is Apple’s Screen Time?

Apple’s latest functionality allows parents to manage their kids digital access on iOS devices.  At a high-level, parents can:

  • Turn iPads and iPhones completely off (except for calling) by setting Downtime 
  • Set time limits around categories giving parents more discretion to designate what is educational versus entertainment.  
  • Track and limit Screen Time across multiple iOS devices
  • Review children’s web browsing history (sites visited)
  • Manage parental controls from the convenience of their own devices 
  • You and your child must be both be running iOS 12 or higher. 

Click here for how to check

  • Family Sharing must be set up and you must be designated as either the Organizer or the Parent/Guardian to be able to manage parental control settings.

Click here for how to check

  • Your child must have his or her own Apple ID
  • Access to your child’s iPhone or iPad makes set-up much easier.
  • Note

     HIFAF Recommendation:

    This can be a good time to review which apps are installed on your child’s device, and delete any that are not frequently used (checking in with your child is a good idea). This is not an essential step, but will make setting time limits much easier and can be a good opportunity to clear storage space.

    After setting up Family Sharing and creating a unique Apple ID for your child, you are ready to set up Screen Time. Below we have provided 10 of the most common scenarios to guide you in customizing your set up. But first, begin with these initial steps :

    • Go to Settings
    • Tap Screen Time
    • Click on your child
    • Click on Turn on Screen Time
    • Hit ‘Continue’ to go to the next step
    • When Downtime appears, select the start and end time, and also toggle Block At Downtime on to ensure the device shuts off during those hours

    Note: The phone will always remain on as well as any apps that you designate as Always Allowed  Click here to see HIFAF Recommendation

    • When the App Limit screen appears, Select Not Now.  It’s best to bypass this step now.
    • Click Continue on the Content & Privacy Page     

    Create a Parent Passcode which you will need to make any changes to Screen Time   

     HIFAF Recommendation
    •  After you’ve set up Screen Time, your child will get a notification like this on his  or her phone
    • Activity on your child’s Screen Time dashboard will appear blank until your child begins using apps and browsing on his or her device.  
    • If your child uses both an iPhone and an iPad, you can set Screen Time limits so that their usage is counted against the limit no matter which device they’re using.
    • On your child’s phone, go to Screen Time (Settings > Screen Time) toggle Share Across Devices to the ON position. Another benefit is that you only have to set up Screen Time once
    • The easiest way to see what apps are downloaded on all of your child’s devices is to click Always Allowed
    • To set time limits for specific apps, you click All Devices. However, it is blank until each app your child uses has been opened for at least 5 sec
     HIFAF Recommendation
    •  Now you can begin deciding how you want to set limits.

    Note: Apps running in the background do not count against Screen Time. So if your child opens Minecraft but then moves on to Netflix, only Netflix is being counted against Screen Time. However, if your child opens Minecraft and then hits the shower, the time spent open will be counted as Screen Time until the device screen locks.  

    • Decide Which Apps You’ll Designate as Always Allowed

    Here’s where you can manage which apps are available at all times, even when Downtime is scheduled. Allowed apps are featured at the top, and by default Apple includes Messages, FaceTime and Maps along with the Phone app.  

    (You can remove those first three, if you prefer, but your phone will remain on at all time.)

    Note: Safari is not listed here, but you can still set specific time limits or turn it off.  

    • Set Content and Privacy Restrictions

    How to Set Content and Privacy Restrictions?

    • From the dashboard, tap on Content & Privacy Restrictions
    • Toggle Content & Privacy Restrictions to the ON positionIn this section, you can manage the kind of Apple store content — movies, music, TV shows, books and apps — that your child can access. You can also set web content restrictions, location sharing, and privacy features. These controls existed in previous versions of iOS, but they’ve moved to Screen Time in iOS 12.
    • Tap iTunes & App Store Purchases and decide whether your child can
      • Installing apps-  If Don’t Allow is selected, then the App Store will be turned off
      • Deleting apps HIFAF Recommendation[/simple_tool]
      • In-app purchases (usually this means your child will receive repeated enticements to upgrade to the paid version)
      • Require a password after making a purchase from the iTunes, Book App Store.  Turn ON if you want to prevent your child from making a string of purchases.
      • Tap the Back arrow (top left) when you are finished with this section.
    • Tap Allowed Apps, and decide which apps/functionality you will permit your child.  
        • If you’ve selected the Share Across Devices feature in Screen Time, then anything you turn off, will be turned off on each of your child’s devices.
        • We recommend turning off AirDrop to prevent your child from receiving unwanted communications when in the public domain, and when it comes to Apple News, consider the age of your child.
        • Tap the back arrow
    • In Content Restrictions, decide which settings you want for:
        • Music — Explicit or Clean
        • Music Profiles & Posts  – there are a lot of graphic album covers
        • Movies and TV shows–you can select whether you want to allow them, and if so, what ratings levels you’ll permit. Note: Only applies to purchases and downloads made from the iTunes store.
        • For Apps, if your child uses:
          1. Social media apps, you’ll have to set the restriction to 12+ no matter what age your child is. For example, if your daughter is 10 and wants to use Musical.ly, you’ll have to set the entire App Limits Category to 12+ because Musical.ly is rated a 12+ app,
          2. If your child uses YouTube, then you’ll have to set app limits to 17+ HIFAF Recommendation[/simple_tool]
          3. Otherwise, select which app level your comfortable with. For example, 9+ means your selecting apps from 9 up to 13.  12+ means your selecting apps ages 13 to 17.
    • In Web Content, Select Limit Adult Websites.
          1. This setting turns off the Private Browsing Mode
          2. You can decide whether to further restrict access by selecting either:
            • Never Allow
            • Always Allow
          3. Alternatively, if you want to lock your child to specific websites only, you can select Allowed Websites Only.  In this scenario, parents will type in the websites they feel comfortable with their child navigating to.
    • Siri Selections – Don’t Allow Explicit Language
    • Game Center – Decide whether you will allow Multiplayer Games and Adding Friends
    • Privacy Share My Location – Select Allow if you want to track the location of your child’s device
    • Allow Changes 
      • Account Changes – Select Don’t Allow if you don’t want your child to be able to change their Apple ID password or add additional accounts to texting, email or calling.
      • Passcode changes – Select Don’t Allow if you don’t want your child to be able to change his or her passcode without your permission
      • Cellular Data Changes–If you want your child to only use Wifi, you would change this setting on his or her device (Settings > Cellular > toggle to ‘Off’), and then select Cellular Data Changes Don’t Allow
      • If your teen is driving and you want to lock his or her phone so he or she can’t text and drive, you would set up Do Not Disturb While Driving
    • Privacy Updates

    Note:At this point, you will need to switch to your child’s device. If he or she has both an iPhone and and iPad, start with the iPhone

        • Go to Settings, tap Screen Time
        • Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions and enter your Screen Time parent passcode
        • Under Privacy, tap Location Services
          1. Scroll down to Share My Location and tap.
          2. Make sure Share My Location is toggled on and then confirm it says, From this Device.
          3. Review which apps your child is sharing location with and make changes.   HIFAF Recommendation[/simple_tool]
          4. Last, click Don’t Allow Changes  Hover: some teens have been known to switch location sharing from their iPhones to their iPads.  So when they take both to a friend’s house, it looks like they’re staying in when really they’ve ventured out.  Or, they turn off location sharing altogether making it impossible to know where they are.

     HIFAF Recommendation[/simple_tool]

    #1

    Set Up Family Sharing

    #2

    Review All Requirements

    #3

    Turn On Screen Time

    #4

    Understanding  Major Screen Time Features

    #4

    Understanding  Major Screen Time Features

    #6

    Content & Privacy Restrictions

     

    #7

    Share Across Devices

     

    #8

    Review Common Scenarios

    #1

    Understanding  Major Screen Time Features

    #6

    Content & Privacy Restrictions

     

    #7

    Share Across Devices

     

    #8

    Review Common Scenarios

    Here are 10 of the most common scenarios:

    TABLE OF CONTENTS D.N.T.

    #1 You want to give your child allowance time to choose which games to play or shows to watch.

    You would like to grant your child one hour of screen time and give your child the choice to decide what he or she going to play or watch. Games are assigned to the Games category and Netflix is assigned to Entertainment. Therefore, you would need to group these together:

    • From the dashboard for your child, select App Limits
    • Tap Add Limit, and picking categories Games’ and ‘Entertainment
    • Press Add, select 1 hour.
    • Make sure Block At End of Limit is toggled on
    • Tap Customize Days if you want different time limits for different days
    • Click the back arrow 3 times to return to the dashboard screen

          

    #2 You want to give your child flexibility to play games or choose whether he or she wants to watch Netflix within a given hour.  However, you prefer that your child does not spend the entire hour playing Subway Surfer.

    Continuing from Scenario #1 Either make sure your child has used the app after you’ve set up Screen Time, or you will need direct access to his or her device.

    Note

    • From the dashboard for your child, select App Limits
    • Tap Add Limit, and picking categories Games and Entertainment
    • Press Add, select 1 hour
    • Make sure Block At End of Limit is toggled on
    • Tap Customize Days if you want different time limits for different days
    • Click the back arrow 3 times to return to the dashboard screen  
    • Tap on the graph showing your child’s app usage
    • Scroll down to the list of the Most Used apps, and select Subway Surfer
    • Scroll down to the bottom of the screen, and select Add Limit, set to 30 min and click Add.
    • If you want to set different time limits for different days, select Customize Days to make adjustments, then select Back.  Note: The minimum time limit you can set is 1 minute per day.
    •              

    #3  You want to give your teen Screen Time with flexibility– 1 hour for week days and 2 hours for weekends to choose between Netflix, YouTube, Instagram and whichever games he or she wants to play. However, you want to time band, so your teen is not binging all in one area. Also, you don’t want to put time limits around the Camera, Texting, and Music

    You can set the following limits:

    Netflix: 30 min. Weekdays, 1 hour Weekends

    Instagram 30 min. Weekdays, 30 min. Weekends

    Youtube 30 min. Weekdays, 1 hour Weekends

    Games: 30 min. Weekdays, 1 hour Weekends

    Make sure that Camera, Texting (Messages) and Music are designated as Always Allowed

    • From the dashboard for your child, select App Limits
    • Tap Add Limit, and pick All Apps and Categories, then press Add
    • Select 1 hour and Make sure Block At End of Limit is toggled on
    • Tap Customize Days, Select 2 hours for Saturday and Sunday
    • Click the back arrow 3 times to return to the dashboard screen. Now select All Devices to begin time banding
    • Scroll down to the Most Used section and begin by selecting Netflix
    • Scroll down and tap Add Limit
    • Select 30 mins
    • Select Customize Days and Click on Netflix to the top left
    • Click Add. Tap Today at top left and repeat the steps for Instagram and YouTube
    • Now click the arrow (top left) back to your child’s dashboard, and select App Limits
    • Now select Add Limit
    • Select Games
    • Set the limit to 30 minutes, and then click Customize Days
    • Change the time limit to 1 hour for Sunday and Saturday

              

    #4  You want to set limits around YouTube, accounting for the fact that it’s both a browser and an app

    Fortunately, when you set a limit for YouTube, the time is captured whether your teen is using the browser-version or the app. Here’s what you do:

    • From the dashboard for your child, tap on the graph showing your teen’s app usage
    • Scroll down to the list of the most used apps, and select YouTube (even though it’s the website version, it shows up under the Most Used Apps list)
    • Scroll down to the bottom of the screen, and select Add Limit, set to 30 min and click Add
    • If you want to set different time limits for different days, select Customize Days to make adjustments. Then select Back
    • This will account for a total time of 30 mins for the browser as well as the app, so you’re covered. You can set a time limit for any website.

    #5  You want to shut off your child’s iPhone, iPad or both.

    Here’s what you do:

    • From the child’s dashboard, Select Downtime
    • Make sure it’s toggled to the ON position
    • Then set the Start time to any time before the present time. For example, if it is 6:00pm, set the time to 5:59pm
    • The End time should be anytime before 5:59pm

    This will ensure that your child’s devices are locked down. However, any apps designated as Always Allowed will still be active (the default is Phone, Messages, Facetime and Maps). Everything except the phone can be turned off.

       

    #6 You’re concerned your child is spending too much time texting.

    Here’s what you can do:

    By default, Apple has set texting to Always On, but you can override this setting and then set a specific time limit for texting, for example 1 hour.  

    • From the dashboard for your child, tap on  Always Allowed
    • Remove Messages by clicking Remove button
    • Go back and tap on the graph showing your teen’s app usage
    • Scroll down to the list of the Most Used apps, and select Messages
    • Scroll down to the bottom of the screen, and select Add Limit, set to 1 hour
    • Decide if you want to customize days, Select Back, and then click Add

                

    #7 Your child uses the iPad for both homework and games

    Here’s what you can do:

    • From the dashboard for your child, select App Limits
    • Tap Add Limit, and pick categories Entertainment and Games
    • Then press Add, select 1 hour
    • Make sure Block At End of Limit is toggled on
    • Tap Customize Days if you want different time limits for different days. Let’s say you don’t want to grant Screen Time during the week, but will allow 1 hour on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays
    • Click the back arrow (top left)  to return to the dashboard screen
    • From the dashboard for your child, tap on  ‘Always Allowed’
    • Scroll down to the list of all the homework apps and click the ‘+’ sign next to each one you would like to keep always allowed. In this case, Vocabulary Spelling City, IXL Math, and Reading A to Z

                 

    #8 My child plays a lot of games, but some of them I think are fairly educational or fun to play with another child.  Screen Time’s categorizing system, however, puts them all together, but I want to set different time limits.

    It’s for instances like these that we recommend app purging to save yourself extra steps. You can easily view which apps are downloaded across your child’s devices by going to your child’s dashboard and clicking Always Allow.

    If your child uses an iDevice for games, entertainment, learning and creative purposes, the best course of action is to group apps together.  While you can’t name the category, think of them as:

    Fun (Netflix, Prime Video, Slither.io, Subway Surfers, Disney Crossy)

    Learning and Creative (iMovie, Hangman, Solitaire, Kahoot, Mad Libs)

    Let’s say you want to set a 1 hour limit for Fun and 1 hour limit for Learning and Creative on weekends. By segmenting this thoroughly, you’re able to give your child more freedom to learn and create while knowing that he or she is limited within certain boundaries and that the device will shut off within a reasonable time period.  What you need to know is that you must set a limit for each app in the Entertainment and Game categories; otherwise, Screen Time will regard it as always on. You can expand to the above list by grouping homework and social media apps

    • From the dashboard for your child, tap on the graph showing your teen’s app usage
    • Scroll down to the list of the Most Used, and it will show you a list of all apps and websites your child has accessed. Begin by selecting Netflix
    • Set a time limit for 1 hour and then click Edit Apps
    • Select the apps that you want to group with Netflix by tapping each one, and select Add
    • Then select Customize Days and change Monday through Friday to 1 minute (Apple does not allow us to completely block a day)
    • Tap Back (top left) then Add, then tap Today (top left) to return to your child’s dashboard
    • Begin grouping the next set of apps and begin by tapping Hangman
    • Tap Add Limit, and set the time to 1 hour. Then select, Edit Apps
    • Select Mad Libs, Solitaire, Kahoot! Etc, and tap Add
    • Now tap Customize Days and tap Add

    #8 I want to see which websites my child has visited.

    Here’s what you can do:

    • From the dashboard for your child, tap on the graph showing your teen’s app usage
    • Scroll down to the list of the Most Used, and it will show you a list of all the websites your child has accessed:

            

    #8 want to limit the amount of time my child is spending on Fortnite

    Through Screen Time, you can limit the browser-version and the app, but you must set a discrete time limit for both. We think the better option to limit activity to the app and block the the browser version with the Never Allow option in the Web Content section found in Content Restrictions (LINK).

    Do note, however, that you cannot limit a gaming consoles or computer. See Our Guides for gaming console controls and blocking the Internet signal (LINK).  Unfortunately, there’s no comprehensive solution, and some Friends are known to stash the remotes in their trunks and drive away.

    For iOS devices:

    • From the dashboard for your child, tap on the graph showing your teen’s app usage
    • Scroll down to the list of the most used apps, and select Fortnite
    • Scroll down to the bottom of the screen, and select Add Limit, set to 1 hour and click Add
    • Scroll down to the bottom of the screen, and select Add Limit, set to 30 minutes and click Add
    • This will account for a total time of 60 mins for the browser as well as the app, so you’re covered across the ipad or the iphone as long as you have Shared Across Devices (at the bottom of your main screen time dashboard) toggled on

           

    Scenarios when Screen Time doesn’t work

    • Multiple Schedules You want to shut the phone off multiple times a day–so during homework time and bedtime and prefer to set a schedule once
    • Advanced Filtering (for example, to cover YouTube)
    • Older iOS devices
    • Parent has to have an iPhone to manage Screen Time remotely
      • A shared device between siblings is not well-suited for Screen Time controls
      • It’s limited to iOS devices
      • It can lock devices, but manipulating controls through Downtime is a bit clunky, and it cannot pause the Internet.
    • Children can change time zones and keep playing games
    • If a child is watching a video on Netflix and presses the home button so it appears as a picture in picture, the minutes won’t count against the child’s screen-time limit. The child could watch all day long and the parent would not be alerted.
    • Apple allows children to request screen-time extensions that pop up on parents’ Apple devices
    • One of the kids would send himself YouTube links in iMessage to watch videos which can be watched beyond the time set for the YouTube app.
    • Screen Time doesn’t work on Apple TV and the Mac

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