How to Set Up Screen Time and Configure It for Your Family

Screen Time is an easy way to curb phone addiction in adults and children alike. It provides daily and weekly reports on how much time you spend on your phone, broken down by category and even specific app. Screen Time also lets you limit the amount of time you can use a particular app within a 24 hour period. During your scheduled Downtime period, which you can change day by day, you will have access to only a few (or no) apps. When used in tandem with Apple’s Family Sharing, Screen Time can be a valuable, highly customizable resource for the entire family. This wikiHow teaches you how to set it up and configure it for your family’s needs.

Steps

Method 1 Method 1 of 2:Setting Up Your Own Screen Time

How to Set Up Screen Time and Configure It for Your Family

Consider your own screen habits. According to a 2018 report by Nielsen, adults spend a stunning 11 hours per day interacting with screens. Of that time, nearly 4 hours is spent on a digital device such as a smartphone, laptop, or tablet. Scripps Health notes that spending too much time with devices can have physical and mental effects ranging from headaches and eyestrain to weight gain and trouble sleeping. Experts are reluctant to set hard guidelines for adults, but it is easy to see that constantly checking your work email or scrolling through social media while lying in bed isn’t the best idea. Screen Time makes it easy to set reasonable limits on your iPhone or iPad usage.

How to Set Up Screen Time and Configure It for Your Family

Update your iPhone or iPad to iOS 12 or later. Screen Time isn’t available on earlier operating systems, so the first step is to update your device if you are not already on iOS 12. While connected to Wi-Fi, open your iPhone or iPad’s Settings, tap General, and then tap Software Update. If an update is available, tap Download and Install and then follow the on-screen instructions.

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How to Set Up Screen Time and Configure It for Your Family

Open Screen Time. Just tap Screen Time in the Settings app to get started. You will see a screen where you can tap to view your total screen time in the past day and week, as well as which apps you used and for how long.

How to Set Up Screen Time and Configure It for Your Family

Set limits for app usage. Screen Time is fully customizable, allowing you to set the limits that work for you. Tap any individual app or category, and then tap Add Limit. This will open a new screen on which you can tap the number of hours and/or minutes you can use that app in each 24 hour period. You can also tap Customize Days to set different limits for different days of the week. You will get a warning popup when your time is almost up, which allows you to extend your time limit if desired.

How to Set Up Screen Time and Configure It for Your Family

Configure a Downtime period. Downtime enforces a shutdown of your time-sucking apps whenever you need to not be distracted, such as at bedtime, when in meetings, or during study periods. On the main Screen Time screen, tap Downtime, and then set the slider switch to On (green). The clock next to “Start” lets you choose when your Downtime will begin, and the clock next to “End” lets you set its ending time.

  • By default, Downtime locks down all your apps except Phone, Messages, and FaceTime. You can change this from the main Screen Time screen. Tap Always Allowed to open a list of your apps, each with a plus (+) or minus (-) sign next to its name. Tap the plus sign to allow access during Downtime or the minus sign to remove access.

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Method 2 Method 2 of 2:Configuring Screen Time for Your Children

How to Set Up Screen Time and Configure It for Your Family

Implement healthier screen habits. The amount of time that children spend in front of screens has been the subject of a great deal of research. Experts agree that digital media is an important part of modern life, and that there are clear benefits to growing up as a “digital native.” Yet too much screen time is unhealthy, taking time away from physical activity, unstructured play, studying, and even sleep. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends moderating your children’s digital habits by following these guidelines:

  • Children under 18 months should not use screen media other than video chatting with friends or relatives.
  • Children ages 18 to 24 months may benefit from limited exposure to high-quality digital media, but parents should always be involved.
  • For children 2 to 5 years old, limit screen time to 1 hour per day. Choose age-appropriate, high-quality media and watch or play alongside your child.
  • For children ages 6 and above, balance and moderation are more important than hard and fast time limits. As a family, create a media plan that balances screen time with homework, extracurricular activities, family time, sleep, and other important parts of childhood.
  • Designate times and locations that are completely screen-free. For example, you might ban devices at dinner and in the bedrooms.

How to Set Up Screen Time and Configure It for Your Family

Update the child’s phone or tablet to iOS 12. Screen Time isn’t available on earlier operating systems, so the first step is to update your child’s phone or tablet if it’s not already on iOS 12. While connected to Wi-Fi, open your iPhone or iPad’s Settings, tap General, and then tap Software Update. If an update is available, tap Download and Install and then follow the on-screen instructions.

How to Set Up Screen Time and Configure It for Your Family

Activate Family Sharing on your own iPhone or iPad. Family sharing lets you share your Screen Time app with up to six family members, along with purchases from the App Store and other features. Just tap the Settings app and then Set Up Family Sharing. Follow the onscreen prompts, making sure to share Screen Time.

How to Set Up Screen Time and Configure It for Your Family

Enable Screen Time for your child. On your own iPhone or iPad, tap Settings and then Screen Time. Scroll down to the “Family” section and tap the child’s name. You can separately configure Screen Time for each child.

  • The app will walk you through the setup process. First, set a designated Downtime period for the child, and then create a passcode. Be sure to choose something that is easy for you to remember but tough for the child to guess. The passcode is used to change Downtime and App Limit settings, as well as to override App Limits on a temporary basis.
  • Finally, the app will prompt you to set App Limits based on categories. You can tweak them later, after setup is complete.
  • After completing setup, you can view your child’s daily and weekly Screen Time reports to see how much he or she is using the phone and which apps are most commonly accessed.

How to Set Up Screen Time and Configure It for Your Family

Set Always Allowed apps. By default, Phone, Messages, and FaceTime are allowed during Downtime. To change this, tap Always Allowed on the child’s Screen Time screen on your own iPhone or iPad. Tap the minus sign (-) next to Messages and FaceTime to disallow them during Downtime. If you want the child to have access to additional apps, tap the plus sign (+) next to the name of each app you want to add.

How to Set Up Screen Time and Configure It for Your Family

Set content and privacy restrictions. On the child’s Screen Time screen on your phone, tap Content & Privacy Restrictions. You will see a list of features that you may or may not want to allow your child to access, such as in-app purchases, specific App Store content such as movies with certain ratings, and multiplayer games. Tap through each menu to decide which features to allow or disallow.

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