Monitor & Manage Device Usage with Screen Time

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Whether you’re a parent of young people glued to their screens, or just someone who wants to be more mindful about their own screen usage — Apple’s new Screen Time feature offers a greater level of insight into, and control over, the technology in our lives.

Setting aside any prescriptions for the “right” or “wrong” amount of device usage, I think we can all agree that we’d like ourselves and our loved ones to have a healthy relationship with technology. I frequently hear from parents who want to be able to help their kids establish those healthy tech boundaries, and up until recently this is something you’d need to set up third party apps such as Our Pact to manage. I’ve also heard from business people and working professionals who tell me it would be great to have a little more self-control with their own device usage, however apps such as Freedom that do offer a certain amount of oversight are not free, and are also limited due to being non-native to iOS.

Now, with the release of iOS 12, iPhones and iPads have a baked-in feature called Screen Time. With Screen Time you can:

  • see detailed information about your device usage, including the number of times you’ve picked up the device, as well as duration of time on specific apps and categories of apps (e.g. social media or politics).

  • initiate “down-time” to schedule time away from the screen, meaning only certain apps are usable for a set amount of time.

  • set time limits for certain apps and/or app categories.

  • block inappropriate content.

  • enforce “Do Not Disturb While Driving”, and more.

The system is not perfect, so it’s helpful to know a few of the downsides:

  • it only works on iPhone and iPad, and not Mac.

  • the categories of apps are unable to be edited, so if for instance you are using Twitter for a work account and Facebook for home, you won’t be able to identify how much time is “slacking” vs. working.

  • apps cannot be excluded from being counted, so if you drive around with GPS all the time like me you could see a lot more screen time than you actually are consuming.

  • there are hacks (of course) that kids are figuring out to work around these restrictions.

If you’d like to learn more about how to set this up for yourself or your loved ones feel free to reach out and we can discuss in greater depth!