The Game-Changing Secret to Limit Screen Time
“Screen Time” is the new buzzword these days, and we’re all scrambling to cut down our screen time and interact with real life more. So, what do we do? We pull out our smart phones and endlessly research how to decrease our screen time. Seems a teensy bit counter intuitive. Thankfully, I know someone who has your back and has already put together a super easy and FREE way to limit your screen time.
Who is it? My favorite entity…Apple. Yep, good ole Apple and the legacy of Steve Jobs have created a built in way to monitor and restrict your screen time, simply titled “Screen Time” in your settings.
And I’ve got the 7 ways that Screen Time can change your life.
I am in no way trying to be a techy blogger, y’all. I’m just a regular gal who happens to be really into reading about the latest tech updates, which means watching all of the Apple Keynotes every year and reporting back on the ways we can use our beloved devices intentionally. That’s what it’s about, right? Our phones and tablets are supposed to be here to make our lives easier, so that we can spend more time doing the things that matter.
Well, that got kind of twisted some point along the way. We’ve automated all the things we need, but we’ve become so addicted to automating and finding the best and reading the best, just because we CAN, that now, we can’t stop.
And ya know what, I think it’s pretty ballsy of Apple to give us Screen Time. Think about it. They make their money by selling us phones with the understanding that we are absolutely addicted and will be glued to them and always want the latest updates. For Apple to recognize that this is a disservice to their consumers is major.
So, we should be using it and helping ourselves.
How do I use Screen Time on my iPhone?
First things first, you need to turn it on!
Go to your Settings and select “Screen Time”
2. You’ll be greeted with this opt-in page telling you about the features of screen time.
3. Select “Continue”
4. Select if this is your iPhone (but do note you can do this on your child’s phone to enforce limits!)
Woohoo! You’ve got Screen Time all set up. It will run in the background of your phone automatically and gives you some pretty neat data among some other features I want to tell you about. Oh, and don’t worry. It doesn’t drain your battery! I’ve had mine on for almost a month now and haven’t noticed a difference in battery life.
There is a total of 7 super cool features on Screen Time, and y’all, I love every single one of them. This is so well thought out and easy to use. Let’s look at what they are!
If you ever want to change any settings or look at your data, you will follow the same steps to access it in your settings, minus having to set it up. So, on your Screen Time module, there’s a section called downtime.
This little section is where you will add a blanket downtime. You can add specific app limits, but this is good for times you need to get work done or get some sleep without being distracted by your phone. I know I have a lot of trouble putting my phone down at night, and I’m an adult! This would be a great feature for teens who are prone to stay up late and text their friends all night. Not that I everrrr did that.
You just select the time period you want downtime to be for, and then you will get a reminder five minutes before that time starts. Ya know, so you can cram in your last remaining phone minutes.
Does this mean I’m blocked from using my phone at all?
No! That would not be good, at all. Let’s look at the second feature of Screen Time. The “Always Allowed” section. This is the section where you select what apps you can always access during downtime.
By default, all of your phone and navigation apps are allowed to be accessed during downtime. This is just right for me. I activate downtime at night, so I am still able to access any important phone calls or messages. I leave maps on in case I did have to navigate somewhere in an emergency.
Now, if you have a child, you might want to deactivate messages and FaceTime during the night. This would be easy to do, and you can set up a passcode so they can’t bypass the limits. Since it is most likely that you, the parent, will be receiving emergency communication, I would’t be afraid to disable these apps during the night. If your teen stays out late, this may be something you need to work out as far as giving/changing the password when necessary for events.
What does downtime look like?
Essentially, downtime brings you back to the flip phone days where going on the internet cost like $10 a minute and you had to press each button 3 times to get to the letter you wanted.
Unless an app is enabled under your “Always Allowed” tab, then it is grayed out on your home screen. You can still click these apps, but here’s what happens.
If you click on a grayed out app, you’ll be notified that you’ve reached your limit for the day. You can either choose to access this app for 15 minutes or ignore it altogether. If you choose 15 minutes, you’ll be kicked out after that time period. If you ignore the limit for today, you won’t be kicked out of the app for the current day.
So, how does that help then?
Well, reminders can be pretty powerful. But some days I am just dang driven to spend all my time on Pinterest and I have no guilt whatsoever. That’s where a passcode comes in handy.
Select “Use Screen Time Passcode” and you can set up a passcode. This code will first and foremost restrict access to bypassing limits, if you want more, you’ve gotta know the code. But it’s second feature is that Screen Time settings can’t be changed without the passcode, which is especially helpful if you’ve set this up on your child’s phone.
But, what if you have no self control?
Guess what I did? I got someone else to set the code for me! That way I can’t bypass limits without the code. For safety reasons, I got the code written down and hid it in my desk, just in case there’s ever a day when I just haveeee to get on Facebook.
The other sections under adding a passcode are pretty dang cool, too. You can make it easy on yourself and select “Share across Devices” so that you have downtime on all those sneaky Apple goods.
You can also select “Set up Screen Time for Family” to limit time on the family tablet or computer.
Okay, that’s cool and all, but I’m really just addicted to the gram, no not thatttt gram. Drugs are lame. Instagram!
You can set up specific app limits! Praise the Apple gods.
How to Set Up App Limits
Go to Screen Time in your Settings
Select “App Limits”
I don’t have any limits set up, but if I did this is where I would see any current limits, manage those, and add new ones.
Select “Add Limit”
Here you will see the groupings of apps. I personally like that apps are grouped by type, because if you have one social media time suck you probably have them all. Don’t worry, you can edit those if you want.
Choose the app category you want to limit.
If you want to only limit say Pinterest and Instagram, choose “Edit Apps” to select only those apps to limit.
Select the time you want to be allowed to spend on that app each day.
You’ve got an App Limit!
When your limit is almost reached, you’ll get a warning notification five minutes before, and of course you can access these apps if absolutely needed. But that reminder should be enough to get your guilt going and get you to put that phone down.
The only feature left on Screen Time is the ability to restrict Inappropriate Content, which I personally don’t use, but would be very useful for parents on children’s phones or family tablets. You may even want to do this on your own phone if your child plays with it a lot. This feature mostly boils down to restricting what apps can access regarding content and location, in addition to not allowing changes to these settings without a passcode. It’s pretty handy!
Screen Time Data
If the reminders aren’t enough to make you want to limit your Screen Time, check out the data collected on how much time you spend on your phone. You can find this by just clicking on Screen Time in your settings, and this will be on the first page with all of your other options.
If you click '‘iPhone” you’ll see the expanded data. This is detailed by the minutes on each app for that day, with the option to see your data for the last week. I currently don’t have my Last 7 Days, because I had to turn off Screen Time to walk through this tutorial! All for the greater good.
I get a reminder once a week with an average of the time I’ve spent on my phone in the last week, which prompts me to look at my data. Typically, I’ve been spending about 3-4 hours on my phone each day. I would ideally like to cut this down to 2-3 hours most days.
This was a pretty thorough walkthrough, but if I’ve missed anything be sure to let me know! I’m really excited about the ability to easily track my screen time as a way of being more intentional about how I spend my time. When you don’t know how much time you spend on something, it’s pretty hard to be intentional about that time.
Knowing is the first step to changing. Don’t beat yourself up if you spend tons of time on your phone! Look at your data and figure out where you can cut down and what you consider “screen time”. I don’t beat myself up about messaging or time spent on maps. Sometimes I let Netflix slide if my cable is out.
Setting a blanket ban on anything is no good; just be intentional and purposeful about how your Screen Time is spent. Phones aren’t bad, if they’re used the right way.