How To use Screen Time on your Apple Devices

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Last year, with the release of iOS 12 Apple introduced a feature called Screen Time that allowed iPhone users to keep track of their smartphone usage. Similar to Digital Wellbeing on Android OS, users can check how much time they are spending on different apps on their devices throughout a day.

What is Screen Time?

‘Digital Wellbeing’, a term used by doctors, researchers and smartphone manufacturers, is a concept of human interaction with technology. Sometimes it is necessary to maintain a balance with technology, to minimize distractions and focus your time.

This is why smartphone makers are giving users the ability to turn off notifications to help you concentrate on your work, or limit app usage. Limiting app usage keeps you away from endless scrolling on social media apps such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or helps to suppress your smartphone gaming addiction.

With Apple’s Screen Time feature making its way to iOS 13, and macOS Catalina, it is now possible to monitor app and get a usage report, schedule downtime and set limits for apps on your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Mac devices. Screen time replaces Managed with parental controls feature in macOS, so parents can still put restrictions for different activities.

If you want to know how you can use the Screen Time feature on your Apple device, continue reading this article.

Enabling Screen Time on Apple Devices  

Here’s how you can enable the Screen Time feature on your Apple devices:

iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch (iOS 13)

  1. First, open up the Settings app, scroll down a little and then tap on Screen Time.
  2. Now tap Turn On Screen Time.
  3. Tap Continue to proceed.
  4. Finally, select This is My [device] or This is My Child’s [device], according to your needs.
Screen Time on iPhone

Mac (macOS Catalina)

  1. To get started, click on the System Preferences icon in the Dock to open up System Preferences.
  2. Click on Screen Time in the System Preferences window.
  3. When accessing the feature for the first time, you will see a list of Screen Time features. Click on Continue to proceed.
  4. After that, click on Options found in the bottom left corner.
  5. Click the Turn On button to enable Screen Time for your Mac device.
Screen Time on a MacBook Pro

Note: macOS Catalina will be released on October 2019 for all the supported Apple devices.

Using Apple’s Screen Time Feature 

Sync Screen Time Across Multiple Devices

If you are using multiple Apple devices, you can sync your device usage reports across all of them. Here’s how you can enable screen time sharing:

iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch

  1. Go to Settings > Screen Time.
  2. Scroll down and toggle on Share Across Devices.

Mac:

  1. Head over to System Preferences > Screen Time > Options.
  2. Tick the checkbox for Share across devices.

Note: Make sure you are using the same iCloud account or Apple ID on your devices.

Use Screen Time Passcode

In case someone tries to change the Screen Time settings, you can protect it with a password. This is useful for those who are using Screen Time for their kids. Here’s how to put a Screen Time Passcode:

iPhone, iPad, iPod

  1. Go to Settings > Screen Time.
  2. Tap Use Screen Time Passcode.
  3. Type a 4-digit passcode of your choice to use it for Screen Time.

Mac

  1. Go to System Preferences > Screen Time > Options.
  2. Click the checkbox for ‘Use Screen Time Passcode’.
  3. At last, enter a passcode.

Note: The Screen Time passcode will sync across all your Apple devices.

View Screen Time Report

To see a detailed report about your device usage, opened apps and visited websites on your iOS devices, go to Settings > Screen Time and tap the graph. For Mac users, open System Preferences > Screen Time and click on App Usage in the left-hand sidebar. You will see a detailed usage chart and set time limits based on your Most Used apps, even check how many times you have picked up (Pickups) your device or received a notification (Notifications).

Screen Time: App Usage

Setting up Screen Time

  • Downtime
  • App Limits
  • Always Allowed Apps
  • Content & Privacy Restrictions

Downtime

When Downtime is enabled and scheduled, you will be limited to phone calls and the apps that you have chosen for a certain time.

To enable it on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod, go to Settings > Screen Time > Downtime and toggle it on. 

On Mac, it can be enabled by going to System Preferences > Screen Time > Downtime and clicking the ‘Turn On’ button.

You can create a custom schedule or select Every Day for Downtime. Enter the time in the From and To field to set your Downtime.

App Limits

You can also set daily limits for specific app categories with App Limits.

To enable it in iOS, open the Screen Time settings panel, tap on Add Limits. Now tap Add Limit and choose between different categories. If you want to choose specific apps, tap on the arrow for each category and choose apps of your choice to apply limits. You can set the time limit and select days in the next section. Tap on Add to save your app limits.

For Mac, open the Screen Time preference panel, click App Limits. Here, click on the [+] button to add a specific app, app category or a website. Similar to iOS, you can select the time limit and days for different apps and app categories.

Always Allowed Apps

Sometimes you might want to access certain apps, even when it’s Downtime or if you have set app limit. Phone, Messages, Maps, FaceTime, AirDrop are allowed by default, but they can be removed by the users.

To access the settings in iOS, go to the Screen Time settings section and tap Always Allowed Apps. You will see a list of apps, where you can allow apps by tapping the green (+) icon next to an app. You can tap the red (-) icon to remove an app from the Always Allowed Apps list.

To set up Always Allowed Apps on Mac, go to Screen Time settings, click on Always Allowed Apps in the left sidebar.

Content & Privacy Restrictions

If you block inappropriate content, file downloads, and purchases, you can do it from the Content & Privacy section.

To enable it in iOS, go to Settings > Screen Time > Content & Privacy and toggle on Content & Privacy Restrictions. From here, you can change your content and privacy settings for different apps and features.

Mac users can enable it by going to Screen Time preferences panel in Settings, then Content & Privacy in the left sidebar, and clicking the Turn On button. There are four categories to choose from: Apps, Stores, Content, and Other. You can allow or set restrictions for accessing specific content or modifying privacy settings.

Conclusion

In this article, we have provided detailed instructions for all the important options to help you set up Screen time on your iPhone/iPad/Mac for monitoring your usage reports and limiting app usage. In case you want to turn off Screen Time:

iPhone / iPad / iPod: Go to Settings > Screen Time > Turn Off Screen Time.

Mac: Go to System Preferences > Screen Time > Options and click on ‘Turn Off…’.

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