What is Apple Screen Time and how does it work?

Screen Time Apple hopes to address the growing problems associated with increased device usage, smartphone addiction and social networking that affect mental health.

The idea is to help you regain control and not be constantly lost on your phone. Here's everything you need to know about Apple Screen Time.

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What is Apple Screen Time?

The screen is a core part of the iOS operating system, and as such, it will run all apps without developers or individual apps making changes to benefit from it.

Found in the app settings besides notifications and do not disturb, the feature keeps track of how you use your device, telling you everything from how long you've spent on certain app categories to specific apps. It will even tell you how many times you have selected your iPhone in a given hour.

Once data is collected, you can view it in a handy table to see how much you actually use your phone or tablet.

At the end of the week, a report will be sent to you via notifications so you can see exactly what you're doing and how much time you've wasted in some apps.


Reporting by application category

Apple has been able to break down apps using categories from the app store, so whether you can play games or spend time on social media, or if you're human utilities.

What's great here is that this data is picked up from the app store and it's all reviewed by a human, you shouldn't find what's hiding in the job category.

What can you do with your data?

The idea is that by understanding how you interact with your phone, you may need a lot more control, either taking drastic measures like uninstalling the app entirely, or limiting how you use it by setting iOS app limits. The problem, of course, is what you have to decide in order to change your life.

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You can choose to ignore the findings or bypass them at any time.

What are the application limits?

If you're worried about addiction, you can set yourself daily or weekly cut-off limits. With iOS, you will be able to set a specific amount of time in the app.

When this period expires, you will receive a notification telling you you only have five minutes. When your time is up, you can replace it and keep using it, but that should make you understand what's going on so you can curb your addiction.

This is very similar to how not to interfere while driving function works. You can easily choose to close it, but it makes you think about what you are doing.

Block apps at specific times from idle

Monitoring and reporting is one thing, but you might want to stop yourself from using a certain app at certain times. This is where a feature called downtime comes into play. This feature, found again in the app settings, gives you the option to schedule times when only the apps you choose will run.

While the feature can be used by parents to control the apps available to their kids in the run-up to bedtime, for example, we could easily see it work to stop you from using your work email after the hour or social media while you work.

You will also be able to whitelist certain applications so that you can use, for example, phone or messaging.

Screen Time will keep track of how many times you pick up your device

It's not just about monitoring app usage, but also how much time you spend interacting with the device. Using a series of signals, Apple also measures how many times you pick up your phone in a given hour. There is an engagement level for signing up, but that's about keeping track of how many times you pick up the phone.

In this day and age with screen time, it's even scary how many times we pick up a phone, and that number might shock you - the first couple of days at least.

Screen Time works on all your devices via iCloud

Not limited to just one device, Screen Time is based on an iCloud account, which can mean a few different things. Not only will you be able to see how you are using the program on multiple devices, but you will also not be able to cheat the system using your iPad through your iPhone when you are running out of time on one device.

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You cannot have multiple users on the same device

While parental controls go a long way towards providing more precise control, Apple still doesn't offer support for multiple users on a single device, like you might have on Macos, Amazon Fire, or (some) Android devices.

Screen Time only works through the use of an iCloud account on devices. If you have a family iPad, the system will record all application usage, no matter who is using it, so the system can be easily bypassed. The answer still seems to be that if you want to track what your kids are doing, they'll all need their own iOS device.

Screen Time allows parents to see their children's activity reports

While you might want to use Screen Time to control your own phone usage, one of the key ways that it will be used is for parents to control the apps their kids are using.

Parents can get their child's activity report right from their iOS devices to understand where their child spends their time and can manage and set app limits for them. The days of "I was just checking that I had my homework" are numbered.

If they spend hours on whatsapp and you will be able to see and yes they are.

Screen Time allows parents to set app limits for children's devices

You can schedule times to limit when your child can use their iOS device, such as before bed, and use downtime to keep them from falling asleep on notifications.

The screen time settings are all controlled remotely through the parents' devices, so your kids won't be able to bypass or turn them off.

Do not disturb sleep

There's also no wake-up call that not only brightens the display, but also hides all notifications on the lock screen until you open it in the morning.

There is another option in the Control Center where you can set it automatically based on a given time or location.

Notification controls to stop you being disturbed

Siri can intelligently make suggestions for notifications based on a number of factors, including things like your location. For example, he'll suggest putting your phone on Do Not Disturb if he thinks you're in a movie theater.

It will also have a group of notifications on your lock screen, so you're not instantly silenced first thing in the morning or after a long flight. For those who want even more control, you'll have the option of notifications being delivered directly to the Notification Center, bypassing the lock screen.

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