Our smartphones can sometimes feel like they are taking over our lives, with every spare moment spent checking social media, playing games or shopping online for the next pair of trainers to buy. With iOS 12, Apple is giving us the tools to not only monitor how much time we spend on our iPhone or iPad, but also control and limit it.
What is Screen Time?
At its most basic level, Screen Time is a visual record of the time spent on apps, games, entertainment, social media and more. Easy-to-understand charts display exactly what you have been doing on your phone or tablet, down to the last minute. Added to that very useful feature, is the ability to set yourself (or others) limits for each of the activities. If you are nearing your chosen limit for gaming, for example, Screen Time will display a pop-up notification alerting you a few minutes before your time is up.
Is Screen Time an App?
You won’t see a new app icon on the home screen for Screen Time. Apple has added the feature to the main settings, so it won’t be cluttering up your screen. You will find it in the second set of settings, below Notifications, Sound & Haptics and Do Not Disturb.
Does Screen Time Display EVERYTHING I Do?
Screen Time monitors everything you do on your phone or tablet, but only displays it in broad categories such as gaming or social networking. You wont see “60 minutes watching cat videos on YouTube”, just “Youtube – 60 minutes”.
You can dig down into these broad categories to see data by current day or week. Screen Time will show you the longest session on each particular app, for that period of time. Below these app charts, it will show you a 24-hour chart that details the amount of times you interacted with your phone or tablet in that period, along with how many notifications you received.
It will also show you how much time you spent on your phone during your Downtime…
What is Downtime?
Downtime is a user-defined period when you are supposed to be off your phone. You can set this at any time of day, for any period of time. Using your phone during this downtime period will result in apps being darkened, and when you go to use those apps, a message will be displayed asking if you want to ignore the set limit. You can ignore for a day, or be reminded in 15 minutes.
Can I Limit Individual Apps?
Yes, you can set individual limits for every app you use, if you wish. When you are viewing the list of most used apps in Screen Time, you will see an hourglass icon next to each. When you tap this icon, options will appear for setting up limits. When you reach those limits in the app, a pop-up will appear on screen. Again, you can ignore this if you wish, for a day or for 15 minutes.
What is Screen Time for Family?
Screen Time also allows you to monitor and control any iOS devices connected to your using Family Sharing. Data can be viewed for each connected device, and limits can be set for apps, just like normal Screen Time. The main difference here is a limit set by a parent on a child’s device will not be deferrable. The warning will appear for the child, but instead of being able to ignore it, they will have to request an extension. If the parent doesn’t want to be bombarded with constant requests for more time, they can disable the request option.
Can You Whitelist Apps?
Screen Time allows you to set apps as “Always Allowed”. This means that using those apps won’t count against your daily usage limits. This is meant for apps such as Phone, Messages, FaceTime, Calendar and Camera.