How to Use the iPhone Screen Time Feature to Set Downtime and Restrictions - dummies

How to Use the iPhone Screen Time Feature to Set Downtime and Restrictions

By Dwight Spivey

With iOS 12 comes a new iPhone feature that lets you monitor your own usage. This brilliant feature is known as the iPhone Screen Time. The iPhone Screen Time feature lets you set your own limitations. Take a look.

iPhone Screen Time: Create some Downtime

Screen Time’s Downtime option lets you set aside some time during your day when you least use your iPhone (or at least should use it the least). This feature would seem to be best used in the evening and during sleeping hours, but it could also be set up to discourage iPhone use during other times, such as meals or while at work. When Downtime is on, the only apps that will be available are those you choose to allow and the Phone app.

To create some iPhone downtime in your day:

  1. Open the Screen Time options in the Settings app.
  2. Tap Downtime and then toggle the Downtime switch to On (green) by tapping it.

    iPhone Downtime

  3. Tap Start to select a time of day to begin your downtime, and then tap End to choose a time for downtime to stop.

If you have other iOS devices and are signed into iCloud using the same Apple ID as your iPhone, the Downtime settings will apply for all of those devices (assuming iOS 12 is installed on them).

iPhone Screen Time: Allow certain apps during Downtime

If you’ve decided to use Downtime, you may want certain apps to always be available, even during the Downtime period. The Phone app is always available, but you may allow others as you please.

  1. Open Screen Time options in the Settings app.
  2. Tap the Always Allowed option.
  3. In the Allowed Apps section, you’ll see a list of apps that are already enabled for use during Downtime by Apple.

    These include Phone, Messages, FaceTime, and Maps. Note that Phone cannot be disabled.

    iPhone Downtime app restrictions

  4. To allow other apps, scroll through the list in the Choose Apps section and tap the green plus sign (+) to the left of the app’s name to add it to the Allowed Apps list.
  5. To remove apps from the Allowed Apps list, tap the red minus sign (–) to the left of its name, and then tap the red Remove button that appears to its left.

If you’re wondering which apps to allow, consider starting with those that may be used for contacting friends and family as well as those that are used for medical monitoring and other health-related needs.

iPhone Screen Time: Set app limits

App Limits is an ingenious feature of Screen Time that acts to help you curtail excessive use of apps that tend to consume most of your time. Let’s face it: Sometimes we just get so engrossed in checking out social media and browsing the web that we end up wondering where half the day went. App Limits helps remind you when the time limit is up, but it does allow you to have a bit of extra time or completely ignore the limit for the day if need be.

To create app limits based on app categories:

  1. Open the Screen Time options in the Settings app.
  2. Tap App Limits, and then tap the Add Limit button.
  3. Tap the circle to the left of a category to select it and then tap Add in the upper-right corner of the screen.

    iPhone Downtime app limits

    Tap All Apps & Categories to set limits for everything in one fell swoop.

  4. Use the scroll wheel to set time limits in terms of hours and minutes.
  5. Tap the App Limits button in the upper-left corner of the screen and the new limit appears in the list.

    Tap it to make changes to the allotted time or to delete it by tapping the red Delete Limit button, and then tap Delete Limit again to confirm.

    iPhone Downtime app limits button

  6. Tap Add Limit button on the App Limits screen to add more limits based on app categories, or tap the Screen Time button in the upper-left corner to exit the App Limits screen.

To create limits for specific apps with the iPhone Screen Time feature:

  1. Open Screen Time options in the Settings app.
  2. Tap the name of your device to open the Screen Time details screen, and scroll down to the Most Used section to see a list of apps.
  3. Tap the name of the app you would like to set limits for, scroll to the bottom of the screen, and tap the Add Limit button.

    iPhone Downtime add limit button

  4. Use the scroll wheel to set time limits in terms of hours and minutes.
  5. Tap the Add button in the upper-right corner of the screen, and the new limit appears in the Limits list at the bottom of the screen.

    Tap it to make changes to the allotted time. To delete a limit, tap it, tap the red Delete Limit button, and then tap Delete Limit again to confirm.

    iPhone Downtime duration modifications

  6. Tap the Back button in the upper-left corner to exit the apps screen.

    Your iPhone will notify you when you’ve reached an app’s limit: The screen will become gray, displaying an hourglass, and the app’s icon is also grayed out on the Home screen where it resides. If you’d like more time, tap the blue Ignore Limit button in the center of the screen, and then tap Remind Me in 15 Minutes or Ignore Limit For Today. Tap Cancel if you’d like to adhere to the limit you’ve set for the app.

    iPhone time limit notification

If you enabled a passcode for Screen Time, you must enter it before overriding the app’s time limit.

iPhone Screen Time: Set content and privacy restrictions

Screen Time helps you prevent access to content that you don’t want to be accessed on your iPhone, and you can also use it to set privacy limits. Content to be restricted could be apps, websites, media (movies, music, and so on), books, and more.

If you’re going to restrict content and set privacy restrictions, it’s advisable to enable the Screen Time passcode. That way, only someone knowledgeable of the passcode can alter the settings you’re about to make. This is highly recommended, especially if your original intent is to provide safety for any children who may use your iPhone.

To set content and privacy options in iPhone Screen Time:

  1. Open Screen Time options in the Settings app.
  2. Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions and then toggle the Content & Privacy Restrictions switch to On (green).

    iPhone Content & Privacy Restrictions

  3. Tap iTunes & App Store Purchases to allow or block installation of apps, deletion of apps, or in-app purchases (purchases that may occur within an app, such as buying upgrades for characters in games).

    Also decide whether users always require a password when making purchases in the iTunes Store or App Store.

  4. Tap the Back button in the upper-left to return to the Content & Privacy Restrictions screen, and then tap Allowed Apps.

    This feature allows you to enable or disable apps that are created by Apple and are installed on your iPhone by default. As you can see below, all of them are enabled to start. If you’d like to disable any of them, simply tap the switch to turn it Off (white). This will completely remove the app from the Home Screen; re-enabling the app will place it back on the Home Screen.

    iPhone Screen Time disable apps

  5. Tap the Back button in the upper-left to return to the Content & Privacy Restrictions screen, and then tap Content Restrictions.

    In the Allowed Store Content section, you can make restrictions based on certain criteria. For example, you can limit which movies are available for purchase or rent in the iTunes Store based on their ratings.

    allowed store content iPhone Screen Time

    The Web Content section lets you restrict access to websites. From there, you’re able to allow unrestricted access to the web, limit access to adult websites, and further limit access to only a list of specific websites that you can customize. You may remove sites from the list by dragging their names to the left and tapping the red Delete button that appears. You may add websites to the list by tapping the blue Add Website button at the bottom of the list.

    Add ebsite button iPhone

    Options in the Siri and Game Center sections let you prevent access to untoward content or language, as well as disabling multiplayer games, adding friends to games, and turning off the ability to record your iPhone’s screen.

  6. Tap the Back button in the upper-left to return to the Content & Privacy Restrictions screen, and then view the items listed in the Privacy section.

    This area lists features and functions built-in to your iPhone. Tapping one shows you which apps are accessing the feature or function, enabling you to limit access to specific apps or to turn off access altogether (by selecting Don’t Allow Changes).

  7. Finally, the Allow Changes section of the Content & Privacy Restrictions screen lets you determine whether changes may be made to such features of your iPhone such as Volume Limit settings, Cellular Data options, and more.