Smartphones are good to get anything you want from the place where you site. But spending too much time in front of the phone will end up in mental and physical problems. Apple offers a health app as part of the popular mobile operating system iOS to monitor your daily walking, cycling and other activities. But as of now iPhones don’t have in-built settings to monitor your screen time and you need a third party app to control your screen time. Apple solved this problem with a new Screen Time function introduced in iOS 12. In this article let us explore how to use Screen Time settings in iPhone to limit the apps usage.
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What is Screen Time in iPhone?
Unlike health app, the iOS Screen Time function is not an app. It is a setting which you can access through ‘Settings’ app. This will help you to apply restriction on your screen time and control the activities on different categories of apps. Screen Time uses the app categories same as your App Store. For example, you can simply set time limit for social networking app category or any individual app like Facebook. You will get a reminder when time limit is about to expire and warning message when the time exceeds.
This is a very useful function to keep tracking your on screen activities. If you can’t control the time right away, monitor the apps you spent more time. Set time limit for those specific apps and try to reduce your screen time.
How to Use Screen Time in iPhone?
Tap on ‘Settings’ and navigate to ‘Screen Time’ option. You should see this option just below the ‘Do Not Disturb’ option. You can see the iPhone usage of current day classified under different categories. If you have logged into multiple devices using the same iCloud account then this section will show the usage of ‘All Devices’.
Tap on the iPhone or All Devices to see the detailed usage in a graphical format. You can clearly see the time spent on iPhone under each category or app and when you have spent the time during the day.
Under ‘Most Used’ section you can view the usages based on categories or individual apps. Tap on the category or individual app and set time limit for your screen time specific to that category or app. At this moment, you can check the screen usage details are available for today and last 7 days. You can also see the following additional details:
- Usage during downtime, if you have setup downtime (we will explain this in next section of this article).
- Pickups details to understand how many times you have picked up the iPhone.
- Also check total pickups during the entire day and most pickups during the specific time.
- Number of notifications sent by each app.
Use the pickups details to identify the peak time of usage. Also notifications are clear indication that on which apps you should disable notifications to reduce the screen time. When the limit is reached, iPhone will block the app usage. You can ignore the limit to use the app or close the app to reduce your screen time.
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This is like a screen free option. Set your start and end time during which you want to be away from the iPhone screen. Only allowed apps and phone calls will be available during this set downtime.
You can also block all the devices connected to your iCloud account during the set downtime. This option is useful to set a scheduled downtime during night for sleeping properly without app notifications.
Let’s say you have set the downtime from 10PM to 7AM. After 10PM, the downtime will start and notification center will show a message that screen time will be limited until 7AM. You will see all the apps are showing an hourglass or having dim look.
When open an app, you will see a time exceeded message. You can tap on ‘Ask For More Time’ and approve additional 15 minutes, 1 hour or the entire day by entering the passcode.
Allowed and approved apps will look normal which you can access during downtime. Note the disabled apps on the dock will look dim without hourglass during downtime.
App limits will allow you set access limit for individual app categories. You can simply block the categories after exceeding the time limit. Here you can only set time limit for categories, for individual apps you need to set time limit as explained above from the iPhone usage screen.
For example, you can limit ‘Social Networking’ category to 1 hour to restrict your time on social apps. When the time limit approaches, iPhone will indicate in the notification center like below.
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Under this settings Apple always allow certain apps by default like phone calls, messages, FaceTime and Apple Maps. But you can remove all these apps except phone calls. If you want, choose the specific apps from the list and add to the exception.
The added apps will always be allowed regardless of your screen time settings and downtime.
Content & Privacy Restrictions
Apple moved the ‘Restrictions’ option of iOS 11 under ‘Screen Time’ settings from iOS 12 onwards. Basically you can tap on this option to turn on ‘Content & Privacy’ restrictions that has options like below:
- Allow or disallow app download / deletion or any particular app already on your iPhone
- Disable in-app purchases
- Limit adult and other websites
- Enable or disable location sharing
- Disable Analytics tracking and ad tracking
Other Screen Time Options
There are some more options available under Screen Time settings.
Disable Screen Time
By default your iPhone will have screen time option enabled in iOS. You can simply disable it by tapping ‘Turn Off Screen Time’ option. You should enter the password to disable this option.
Change Screen Time Passcode
You can change or disable the password for screen time settings. Generally, you don’t need passcode for accessing screen time. But you need passcode for certain options like turning it off or accessing content & privacy section.
Setup Screen Time for Family
Screen Time settings not only help you monitor your own activities but also your entire also family member’s activities. Especially, if you have kid, you can add your kid as a child account and control the spending and monitor the game playing timing. You can setup ‘Ask to Buy’ option so that your kid needs to get your consent before buying apps from App Store.
Getting Details of Multiple Devices
Screen Time will help you to get the details across all your iOS devices that uses the same iCloud account. When you view the phone usage details, tap on ‘Devices’ option to get the details including all devices. Earlier, the screen time details are applicable only on iOS devices. However, now this feature is also available in macOS. So, you can enable the setting across all your devices to reduce time spent in front of the screen.
In our opinion, Screen Time is a must have settings for any smartphones in this information world. It does not make sense to look at the phone hundred times just because you have it. There is a beautiful world around there for you to walk and explore. So use Screen Time and set limits for your on screen activities. This will help you to save regular time which you can spend with your family, friends or just explore the world.