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iOS 12: Getting to know Screen Time and stronger parental controls

When you receive your first usage report, you should probably sit down before opening it.


With iOS 12 , Apple is doing its best to curb phone addiction and give you more tools to quantify just how much time you spend on your iOS devices.

Now Playing: Watch this: Limit your screen time with iOS 12

Not only will your iOS device begin telling you how much time you spend (or waste) on your phone or tablet, but it will give you tools to help you tame your desire to be always connected.

As a reminder, iOS 12 is currently available in beta. It's likely that features will change and look different by the time it's released this fall. We will update this article as needed until then. 

Screen Time


Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

After updating to iOS 12, the Settings app will have a new section titled Screen Time. In this section, you'll find a breakdown that shows just how much time you're spending on all iOS devices with the same iCloud account. 

Going further, Screen Time will also break down how often you pick up your phone, which apps you used the most after picking up your phone, and how many notifications you receive on a per-app basis.

Screen Time breaks down usage for the current day, as well as the past 7 days. Each Sunday you can expect to receive an alert with your weekly report for the previous week. 

App Limits


Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Taking all of these insights from Screen Time, users can then set time limits for app categories or specific apps on a 24-hour basis. You can create a limit from the Screen Time breakdown with a tap on the hourglass, or by selecting the App Limit option in Settings > Screen Time > App Limits > Add

As the set time limit approaches you will receive an alert to remind you your time limit is nearly up.



Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Inside the Screen Time settings page is an option called Downtime. Users can set a scheduled time at which the device essentially locks itself down, restricting access to all but a handful of apps such as Phone, Messages, and FaceTime. Activating Downtime at bedtime, for example, is a convenient way to force yourself to stop checking Facebook, Twitter or even your work email.


Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

If you want to use Downtime, but need access to more than just Phone, Messages and FaceTime, you can pick which apps you'll be able to use in Screen Time > Always allowed.

Parental Controls


Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Through a combination of Apple's Family Sharing feature and Screen Time, parents will be able to take more control over a child's iOS device(s). Weekly reports are sent to the parent, which he or she can use to regulate how much time is spent by a child in a given app or category, as well as on the device in general.

Parents can also remotely schedule when Downtime is active, essentially locking a child out of all iOS devices during meals or at bedtime.

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