Using Screen Time on smart devices to keep kids on track

Posted at 3:04 PM, Mar 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-24 17:04:59-04

Keeping kids off of smart devices was hard enough before the COVID-19 outbreak, but now it's likely harder with them being home all of the time.

With Screen Time, you can access real-time reports about how much time you or your kids spend on smart devices.

Most importantly, you can also use Screen Time to set time limits for kids so they're not goofing off when they should be doing homework.

Screen time is available on iPhones, iPads, iPod touches, as well as Macs and MacBooks.

Turning on Screen Time

  1. Go to Settings, then select Screen Time.
  2. Tap "Turn on Screen Time".
  3. Tap Continue.
  4. Select "This is My [device]" or "This is My Child's [device]".

You can now get a report about how you use your device, apps, and websites, any time you want.

If it's your child's device, you can set up Screen Time and create settings right on their device or you can use Family Sharing to configure your child’s device from your own device.

After you set up your child’s device, you can also use Family Sharing to view reports and adjust settings right from your own device.

With Screen Time you can also create a dedicated passcode to secure settings, so only you can extend time or make changes.

Make sure to choose a passcode that's different from the passcode you use to unlock your device.

To change or turn off the passcode on your child's device, go to Settings, then Screen Time, and tap [your child's name]. Then tap "Change Screen Time passcode" or "Turn off Screen Time passcode", and approve the change with Face ID, Touch ID, or your device's passcode.

Here are the settings that you can manage with the Screen Time Section:

Setting limits on apps

You can set daily limits for apps and they are filtered by category, but be sure to check all of them because they're sometimes miscategorized by developers.

This feature can help parents set limits on things like social media, games, streaming and other apps that could distract kids from their school work.

You can set time limits for each category or each individual app. Then you can select daily limits. A good use of this could be stricter limits during the week and looser limits on the weekends to give kids a sense of structure.

App Limits refresh every day at midnight, and you can adjust them at any time.

Adding communication limits

Parents can control who their children can communicate with, throughout the day and during downtime.

These limits apply to phone calls, FaceTime calls, messages, and iCloud contacts.

Communication to known emergency numbers identified by your carrier is always allowed.

You need to have your iCloud contacts enabled to use this feature.

Setting downtime

Think of this as a nap for your kid's screen time.

When you schedule downtime in Settings, only phone calls and apps that you choose to allow are available.

Downtime applies to all of your Screen Time-enabled devices, and you get a reminder five minutes before it starts.

This can be extended upon approval from a parent by selecting "ask for more time".

Choose apps that are always allowed

You might want to let kids access certain apps, even if it's in downtime or if you set the All Apps & Categories app limit.

Phone, Messages, FaceTime, and Maps are always allowed by default, but you can remove them if you want.

Content & privacy restrictions

Parents can decide the type of content that appears on their kid's device. This means you can block inappropriate content, purchases, and downloads, and set privacy settings with Content & Privacy Restrictions.