Over the past few years, numerous articles and books have been written regarding the need for more parental control thereby providing for overall digital wellness. Apple’s Screen Time will let parents remotely manage their kid’s usage from their own devices. You are able to see how much time your kids are spending on their devices as well as what apps are consuming most of their attention until they turn 18.
Screen Time features are designed to help users have more control over their phone usage and interruptions. My family was part of the beta program allowing us to test drive the new features. Overall I am extremely pleased. Having stats surrounding actual phone usage will help parents set more appropriate limits.
First, you must update your phone.
You will find Screen Time in the Settings app below Notifications and Do Not Disturb.
Screen Time monitors the way you use your phone telling you how much time was spent on your devices daily as well as the last 7 days. Information is further broken down showing the amount of time spent on each social networking app, productivity, reading, entertainment, etc. You are also able to view your total pickups along with when the most pickups occur.
Over time, data is collected so you can see how much time you are actually on your phone or IPad. A weekly report is sent out on Sunday via a notification allowing you to see actual details of your phone usage and that of family members you choose to monitor.
How does all this information help? Knowledge is power! The first step in decreasing smartphone overuse is being aware of one’s actual use on their phone. When I first began monitoring my usage I how no idea I wasted so much time doing mindless tasks on the phone. My 17-year-old daughter and I have had conflicts over how much time she was spending on her phone. I overestimated while she greatly underestimated. Using Apple Screen time has reduced our arguments as the stats do not lie.
With parental controls, we set 2 hours of social networking on her phone per day. Once the two hours are reached she is unable to use any social apps unless we extended the time on her phone which must be done with a password that only we know. The other two areas we monitor are pickups and notifications. Why? Studies have shown that it takes nearly 30 minutes to refocus after an interruption such as picking up the phone to see who texted you. Currently, we are working to curb her pickups to less than 60 per day as I feel 100 per day is unreasonable. The notification report allows us to see how often she is being interrupted by the various apps on her phone.
While there is no perfect solution we have found Screen Time easy to use, very informative, and a great tool to provide unarguable data.