Posted by Devenia Besant on 21 Oct 2018

Someone recently brought up how shocked they were when they found out just how much screen time they had racked up and I must admit I dread to think with the job that I do just how much time I spend looking at a screen 😬 however when it comes to my children I’m a lot more concerned and interested to keep an eye on just how much time is spent.

In an age of iPhones, iPads, Macs and all of the other digital tools around, now more than ever our children are spending more time looking at a screen.  There’s no denying all these tools are a great resource but I remember a time (without sharing my age) when if you wanted to research something you had to visit the library!!!!  Anyway with all these thoughts I got some useful information for iPhone and iPad users from Adam Poland from GFC Tech on how we can keep track on how much time our children are spending on-line, having children of different ages I know as they get older monitoring it can get harder.

So here goes how to set up Screen Time tracking and setting limits for yourself and your children:

Getting to know Screen Time and stronger parental controls

Once you have updated to iOS 12, the settings app will have a new section titled Screen Time. In this section, you’ll find a breakdown that shows just how much time you are spending on all iOS devices linked to the same iCloud account.

Be prepared to be shocked!! 

Screen Time will also break down how often you pick up your phone (yikes!!!), which apps you used the most after picking up your phone, and how many notifications you receive on a per-app basis. Taking all these insights from Screen Time, users can then set self-imposed limits for app categories or specific apps on a 24-hour basis. You can create a limit from the Screen Time breakdown with a tap on the app or category. On the individual breakdown screen, select Add Limit at the bottom of the page, then select the allotted time. You can even customise based on day of the week.

Our Favourite Use for the New Screen Time App!

Using Apple’s Family Sharing feature and Screen Time, parents will be able to take more control over a child’s iOS device(s). This Feature allows you to manage how much time is spent by a child in each app or category, as well as on the device in general.  If you already have Family Sharing enabled, you can go to the Family Sharing settings or the Screen Time section of Settings.

If you don’t already have Family Sharing enabled, start by tapping on your name at the top of the first Settings app screen, then select ‘Family Sharing.’ You can also enable Family Sharing from a Mac’s System Preferences. Every Family Sharing group has an organiser who acts as the administrator of the group. Others in the family can be designated as parents/guardians or children. The organiser, parents, and guardians can all manage Screen Time for a child.

To set up Screen Time for a child, on one of your iOS devices go to Settings > Screen Time and scroll down until you see the names of any children included in your Family Sharing plan.

Select the name for the child you want to set Screen Time with, approve the first prompt, then set a Downtime for your child’s device. Downtime will limit what can be done on the iOS device. You will be asked for a Screen Time passcode. Enter one that your child/children can’t guess, and that you’ll be able to remember. You can set different codes for each child if that makes it easier for you to remember.

This passcode is what’s needed to approve requests for more time or adjust a child’s settings.

Finally, you’ll be asked to set Screen Time limits based on app categories. To begin with, we suggest skipping this part and seeing which apps are included in which categories and then either setting limits based on apps or adjusting category limits.

After you’ve setup Screen Time for a child’s device(s), when you view their Screen Time page you will see a breakdown of time spent on the device, complete with time in each app and category. Essentially, it’s the same breakdown you receive for your own use, but for your child/children.

You can set App Limits, Always Allowed apps, and control Content & Privacy Restrictions, which all are reflected in real time on a child’s device.

Take Back Control with Downtime            

Downtime is the most straightforward Screen Time limit that can be set, it lets you set a period during which your child can’t access most of the apps on their iOS device. A handful of system apps such as Phone, Wallet, Safari, Settings, and Clock all remain available, you can also add apps that are allowed during downtime by adding them in the always allowed section.

At the bottom of the Downtime setup screen is a toggle that says, ‘Block at Downtime.’ Turning that toggle on means that when a Downtime limit is reached, your child must send a request to extend the time allowed. The request sends a notification to the parents/ guardians and organisers of the family sharing group, you can then grant an extension of 15 minutes, one hour,  all day, or deny the request from the notification by entering your Screen Time passcode.

APP Limits

The App Limits section of Screen Time doesn’t impose per-app limits. Instead, when you tap the ‘Add Limit’ button, Screen Time offers to create restrictions for all apps and different categories of apps. Categories are based on how apps are categorised within the App Store for instance social media apps.

To set up a limit for an app, you need to use the Screen Time’s device usage statistics instead.

There, you will see a list of your child’s most-used apps. Tapping on an app name provides more information about the app and its use by your child. At the bottom of the detail view is an ‘Add Limit’ button that will allow you to set a limit for that individual app. App limit setup includes a ‘Block at End of Limit’ toggle that works the same as the ‘Block at Downtime’ toggle described above.

Always Allowed

The Always Allowed section of Screen Time works as you’d expect. The Phone app is always available. Messages, FaceTime and Maps are whitelisted by default, but beyond that, the list is up to parents. If an app that would otherwise be blocked by Downtime or App Limits is marked as Always Allowed, the app will remain available.

Content and Privacy Restrictions

Content and Privacy Restrictions are turned off by default.

To set up Content and Privacy Restrictions, tap that entry from the main Screen Time view and turn the associated toggle to ‘On.’ As with all Screen Time settings, this can be done on your iOS device or your child’s device.
Content restrictions allow parents to set a maximum rating for each type of media available on an iOS device based on the ratings system available in a parent-specified country. Web browsing can be restricted to limit access to adult content or whitelisted sites only. Siri can also be prevented from returning web search results and from using explicit language.

There is also section for Game Centre, where you can prevent kids from using multiplayer games, adding friends to Game Centre, and creating screen recordings.

The remainder of the Content and Privacy Restrictions section is devoted to privacy. You can turn off location sharing, remove a child’s ability to modify settings for their device’s passcode, cellular data, Do Not Disturb while driving, TV provider, and background app activity.

There are a lot of settings to comb through in Content and Privacy Restrictions. You can toggle app installation and deletion and In-app Purchases on or off, plus require a password for every store purchase. A long list of Apple’s pre-installed apps can be turned on or off too.

So that’s how it’s done but if you need assistance with getting this set up or any of your home technology do get in touch with Adam here he will be more than happy to help you.

Stepping away from my screen now.


Devenia Besant
Devenia (Dee) Besant is the founder of Epsom and Ewell Families. Runs a busy household as a mummy of 3 and a wife and some would say crazily committed to helping small businesses and the local community.

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