In iOS 12, Apple has introduced a new tool called Screen Time that gives you a better understanding of the amount of time you’re spending each day using apps, visiting websites, and more on your devices. Here’s a look at how to use it and why it could become beneficial in your life.
Keep your iPhone usage under control
The new Screen Time tool is a big part of iOS 12. The feature allows you to keep track of the amount of time you spend on your devices each day. You can also use the tool to track your kids’ time online.
To use Screen Time to track and manage your device:
1) Go into the Settings app on your iOS device and tap on the Screen Time option.
2) On the next screen, select Turn On Screen Time, then click Continue.
On the main Screen Time page, you’ll notice three main sections. In the first, you’ll see a chart showing the amount of time you’ve spent on your device today and how. The second section includes tools you can use to customize and restrict your device usage. The final section is where you will find monitoring tools for your kids’ devices.
Let’s take a look at each of those sections.
The Screen Time Chart
The chart on the Screen Time page offers a breakdown of how much time you’ve spent on your iOS device. Best of all, if you have more than one device with iOS 12 installed (and Screen Time activated), you can see your total usage here.
1) Tapping on the chart reveals further usage information, including:
- The category of apps you’ve been using on your device the most, such as Gaming, Productivity, or Reading & Reference apps.
- The longest amount of time you’ve spent on your device in one sitting.
- The apps you’ve used the most by time or category.
- The number of times you picked up your device today.
- How many notifications you have received and by which apps.
Note: You can view Screen Time data for Today or for the Last 7 Days.
As you can see in the example below, iPhone usage across all devices today totaled one hour and 53 minutes. For the week, Screen Time totaled seven hours, 38 minutes. At the bottom, you can see a breakdown of the time spent by category.
The most used categories apps or websites were Settings, Safari, and the LongScreen app.
Meanwhile, pickups totaled 16 per hour, or 194 during the day, while notifications numbered 752, or around 63 per hour. (Yes, this is a lot of iPhone usage.)
Customization and Restrictions
In the next section of the Screen Time page, you’ll see four settings: Downtime, App Limits, Always Allowed, and Content & Privacy Restrictions.
During Downtime, calls, messages, and other apps you want to allow can still be used. Everything else, including notifications, will be turned off. Ideally, think of your Downtime schedule as the time you plan on being in bed each night.
1) Click Downtime and then toggle to the On position.
2) Once you activate Downtime, you’ll be asked to create a Start and End time.
In the example below, the Downtime is between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.
Next, you’ll see the App Limits page. From here, you can set daily time limits for apps and categories you want to manage. After the limit has been reached, your permission will be required to allow more time.
1) To get started, tap App Limits from the main Screen Time page. Next, select Add Limit.
2) On the next screen, you can decide to select limits for All Apps & Categories or individual categories. Once you make your selection, click Add at the top right of the screen.
In the example above, the Entertainment and Social Networking categories are limited to two hours of use per day.
3) Click Customize Days to make the limits vary by day.
Under Always Allow, you’ll find a list of the apps that you want available even during Downtime. By default, the allowed apps are Phone, Messages, and FaceTime.
1) Click on the + or – next to the app to add and remove, respectively.
In the above example, the apps 1Blocker and Activity were added to Allowed Apps while FaceTime was deleted.
Content & Privacy Restrictions
Finally, you’ll see the Content & Privacy area. In this section, you can restrict explicit and mature content in the iTunes and App Stores, Music, and websites.
Note: this section isn’t new in iOS 12.
One final note
Obviously, you don’t have to use Screen Time. Nonetheless, it’s an eye-opening experience that might make you think twice before picking up your iPhone yet again today. Seeing your iPhone usage each day might be just enough of a push for you to consider cutting back. And isn’t that’s the point?
The new Screen Time feature in iOS 12 shows great promise, and we can’t wait to see how it develops over time.
As a reminder, iOS 12 remains in beta. As such, the steps explained here may change before iOS 12 is released to the public. As changes are made, we’ll be updating this document. Apple should release iOS 12, macOS Mojave, tvOS 12, and watchOS 5 later this year.