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How to Use Screen Time on iOS 12: App Limits & Better Parental Controls



This guide will show you how to use Screen Time on iOS 12. This is a cool new feature for your iPhone and iPad that will track where you spend the most time on your device. It’s also an incredibly detailed and powerful tool that will change how you handle parental controls on your kids’ devices.

On the surface, Screen Time shows you where you spend your time broken down by type of activity, app and even which web pages you visit most often. You can view this on your iPhone or get an email with the details sent to you for review — which makes it one of the most powerful parental controls you can use on a gadget, and the best yet on the iPhone or iPad.

In addition to showing you exactly what you or a kid spend time on, you can put limits on apps and even on webpages. This allows you to set a hard limit on Facebook or YouTube, while still letting a kid do homework or chat with friends.

How to Use Screen Time

There is no Screen Time app. The entire experience lives in the Settings app and through emailed reports.

  1. Open Settings and tap on Screen Time.
  2. If it isn’t turned on, you should enable it now.

You’ll immediately see your usage so far today, which may not look super useful. The main section of the screen shows you your activity split up into different categories like Social Networking, Games, Productivity and more.

You can see when you use the phone most often and which apps you use most often. Screen Time shows a today view, or you can tap up top to see 7 days.

Scroll down past the apps and you will see how many times you pickup your iPhone and when you pick it up most often. You can also see how many notifications you get, and change notification options if they are too intrusive.

Tap on any app name to see more detailed usage information and to see options to add limits. You can add a time limit to apps and to specific websites.

Back on the main Screen Time page you can add a Screen Time Passcode. This will allow you to lock down the limits for kids, or you can give your passcode to someone else and lock down your iPhone usage.

Screen Time on iOS 12 offers a lot of control for your iPhone or iPad.

Screen Time on iOS 12 offers a lot of control for your iPhone or iPad.

Screen Time also includes Downtime, which allows you to schedule time away from the screen, where most apps are blocked. The suggested time frame is at night, so Apple views this as a tool to start your prep for bed.

In the Screen Time settings, under Content & Privacy Restrictions, you also get to set which apps are always allowed and you can set up content restrictions for parental controls. This section lets you block content based on ratings, block actions like sharing my location, advertising and even stop the user from making changes to the volume and other settings. This is the holy grail of parental controls.

How to Set App Limits with Screen Time

Set an App Time Limit with Screen Time.

Set an App Time Limit with Screen Time.

The Screen Time App Limits are one of the most appealing options if you need to limit your own usage or if you want to control how much time kids spend in apps or even games like Fortnite.

You can set App Limits based on app categories or within a specific app. I prefer to limit based on apps because it allows more fine control, but you can block out entertainment or social networking to keep a hard limit without playing the bad guy when time is up.

  1. Go to Settings -> Screen Time -> App Limits
  2. Choose a category of apps you want to limit and tap on it. If you want to limit a specific app, tap on the graph on the main Screen Time Screen, then find the app you want to block in the Most Used section. In this section you can also limit the amount of time the user can spend on a specific webpage.
  3. Choose how much time the user can spend in the app. This resets at midnight local time.
  4. If you want to allow more time on specific days, like the weekend, tap on Customize Days and change the time allowed for those days.

When the app time limit is almost out, the device will show a warning and once it is out the app will just show a white screen with limit reached as a warning. You can extend the time limit 15 minutes or you can ignore it for the day.

You will want to set up a Passcode on the main Screen Time page if this is for a kid. Otherwise they can extend or ignore any limits you set.

How to Use Parental Controls in Screen Time

Use Parental Controls in Screen Time to limit access to websites, movies, apps, music and more.

Use Parental Controls in Screen Time to limit access to websites, movies, apps, music and more.

If you already set up App Limits in the section above, you’re on your way to mastering parental controls on the iPhone and iPad. Make sure you set a Screen Time passcode, or your kid can change the settings and remove any limits they want.

  1. You can also go to the main Screen Time page and tap on Content & Privacy Restrictions to lock things down further.
  2. Toggle Content & Privacy Restrictions On.
  3. Tap on a section to see more options. You can control which apps are allowed, what they can do in the app store, if they can share their location and many other options.
  4. Tap on iTunes & App Store Purchases. Change the options including if kids can install or delete apps and if they can make in-app purchases.
  5. Tap on Content Restrictions to control ratings for movies, music, books, podcasts, TV Shows and apps. This will restrict apps based on the app rating. You can also use this section to change Siri access and even the use of Multiplayer games that use Game Center.
  6. Under the Privacy Section, you can control app access to personal information and other settings like sharing your location, seeing ads, and more.
  7. In the Allow Changes section, you can lock down various account settings, like Passcode changes, account changes, cellular data changes, volume limits, TV providers and more so that kids don’t accidentally make a major change.

This is the best place to go for parental controls on the iPhone or iPad. If you set it up with a passcode and sync across devices the settings will mirror on the kid’s iPhone and iPad so they have one time limit, not two.

How to Use Downtime in iOS 12

Downtime in iOS 12 helps you get ready to go to bed by limiting iPhone or iPad usage.

Downtime in iOS 12 helps you get ready to go to bed by limiting iPhone or iPad usage.

Downtime is a part of Screen Time in iOS 12 that helps you get ready for bed by limiting your access to apps starting at a specific time and ending later. This is best used if you want to disconnect or if you need to stop playing a game at night.

When you look at your phone at night, your brain is getting the message that it’s not time for sleep yet. By limiting your phone use, you should be able to get a better night’s sleep.

  1. Open Screen Time
  2. Tap on Downtime
  3. Set a time frame for it to be active.
  4. Go back to the main Screen Time page.
  5. Tap on Always Allowed.
  6. Choose the apps you want to be available during Downtime.
  7. This includes Phone, Messages, FaceTime and Maps as the default, but you can remove all but the phone. You can also add apps. I added Audible since I listen to it to fall asleep.

That’s all you need to do. This will automatically switch on at the right time and turn off at the end. If you know your Screen Time Passcode you can bypass it, but if you use this for a child they will only be able to use the apps you choose during this time.

iOS 12 vs iOS 11: What’s New in iOS 12.4.1

iOS 12.4.1 Features and Fixes

iOS 12.4.1 Features and Fixes

The iOS 12.4.1 update focuses on security fixes for a major bug that Apple fixed once before, but that is back in iOS 12.4. This security issue would allow an app to essentially gain full control over your phone. 

  • Available for: iPhone 5s and later, iPad Air and later, and iPod touch 6th generation
  • Impact: A malicious application may be able to execute arbitrary code with system privileges
  • Description: A use after free issue was addressed with improved memory management

This is what allows people to jailbreak iOS 12.4, which is a plus for some users, but most users will want the security that comes from iOS 12.4.1.

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