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Home / Tips and Tricks / Children on the iPhone, iPad or Mac too long? Set parental controls with Apple screen time

Children on the iPhone, iPad or Mac too long? Set parental controls with Apple screen time



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Are you sucked? Use Screen Time on your iPhone, iPad or Mac to save how much time you spend on your device.


Angela Lang / CNET

If the kids refuse to get fresh air or help around the house because they're stuck to their screens, it's time to set some limits. Like you, I relaxed my rules in response to the difficulties of staying at home and the quarantine life . But sometimes enough is enough. There should be a limit to the number of YouTube videos a child can watch in one day, right?

Enter Apple & # 39; s Screen Time function for iPhone iPad Mac and iPod Touch . It's built-in and tracks and monitors how much time you spend on your devices and can block you or your kids after you reach a certain amount of time. You can even block access to your child's Apple device every night at a set time so they can no longer continue to play their favorite games under the covers after bed.

Before you start checking a child's device usage, I recommend that you use Screen Time on your own devices to familiarize yourself with the feature. Screen time is somewhat complex, with many settings and features tucked away in different menus.

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Enable Screen Time for Yourself

Screen Time monitors and helps you track or limit your usage on iPhone, iPad and Mac. You must set up the service on every device you use. For a full view of total usage, enable Screen Time and the Share Between Devices option. That ensures that the time you spend on your iPhone, iPad and Mac is calculated together.

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Enable Screen Time with just a few taps.


Screenshots by Jason Cipriani / CNET

On an iPhone or iPad

1. Open the app Settings .

2. Select Screen Time .

3. Tap Enable Screen Time .

4. Select This is my iPhone / iPad when prompted.

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Screenshot by Jason Cipriani / CNET

On a Mac

1. Open System Preferences .

2. Select Screen time.

3. Make sure your name is selected in the drop-down list under your user profile picture.

4. Click on Options in the bottom left corner.

5. Select Enable .

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You may want to sit down before reading your Screen Time stats for the first time.


Jason Cipriani / CNET

Using Screen Time for Your Child

To use Screen Time to monitor and control a child's device usage, you must first set up Apple's Family Sharing service. Family Sharing has many benefits, including saving money by sharing purchases between members. If you haven't used it yet, please take a few minutes to activate it using our complete Family Sharing Guide .

With Family Sharing enabled and your children's accounts added, you can remotely activate screen time on their device (s). On your iPhone or iPad, you can do that by going to Settings > Screen Time > select your child's name> Enable Screen Time . On a Mac, go to System Preferences > Screen Time > select your child's name from the drop-down list> Enable Screen Time .

Make sure you create a screen time code when prompted. Don't skip this step . This passcode is used to prevent a child from turning off screen time or changing your parental controls. It's also worth pointing out that you shouldn't choose a password that your kids can easily guess – I made that mistake the first time I set up Screen Time and couldn't figure out why it kept turning off on my iPod touch child. Children are smart.

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Screen time will be splitting device over all your usage, devices.


Screenshot by Jason Cipriani / CNET

Screen time is turned on, now what?

After you turn on Screen Time, you immediately see a graph that tracks how much time you spend in an app or on a website. Tap See all activity for an overview of the current day, the past seven days, which apps you spent your time in, the number of times you record your phone each day, and how many notifications you receive – – and from which apps. You will be notified every Sunday with your statistics and trends.

Under the activity graph, there are several categories within Screen Time that you can adjust to achieve your personal goals or to curb your child's device usage. Here is a brief summary of what everyone is doing:

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Screenshot by Jason Cipriani / CNET

Downtime : When this option is enabled, only the apps in Always allowed and phone calls are accessible. Create a custom schedule to enable Downtime close to bedtime, for example, so you can start breaking and relaxing.

App Limits : Set daily limits for specific apps or app categories. Once the time limit is reached, the app will display a welcome 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 limits : You can determine daily who your child talks to and for how long. This setting applies to phone, FaceTime, messages and iCloud contacts.

Always Allowed : Select the apps you want to be available all the time, even during downtime. By default, phone, messages, FaceTime and cards are marked as always allowed.

Content & Privacy Restrictions : Click here to block adult content, request approval of a purchase on a child's device, restrict downloads, and adjust privacy settings.

Take a few minutes to go through each section and familiarize yourself with the options.

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Angela Lang / CNET

A Note About Parental Controls

It will take some time for the correct combination of these settings to be correct, especially for your child's account. When I first used Screen Time to turn off my kids' devices at bedtime, I left Messages marked as an always-allowed app. At the time, they just sent messages to each other, my wife and I.

What I didn't realize or even 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 a few weeks for me to realize why they used Messages long before they went to bed because they were gaming.

Now they are limited to podcasts and music when turning on Downtime at bedtime.

Another problem I ran into with one of their accounts is that the screen time settings I set on my device were not syncing with their devices. I still have to figure out why, but I came up with a solution if you run into the same problem. First turn off screen time for their account on your device and then go through screen time setting with their device. If prompted, select This is my child's device set your passcode and adjust their settings.

After mastering screen time, view all the hidden features we discovered in iOS 13 . For more general tips and tricks for iPhone and iPad, we have those too . If you are new to Mac, make sure you change these settings first .


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