The mobile device phenomenon is relatively new, only about a decade old, and we're still learning about its effects on our psyche. Companies are starting to take into consideration that its not a bad idea to keep track of how much time we spend on our devices. Whether you feel like you spend too much time on Twitter or too little time listening to relaxing music, Apple's Screen Time dashboard can help you understand your usage better with a detailed report of your daily and weekly activities on your iPhone and iPad. Here's everything you need to know about Screen Time on iPhone and iPad in iOS 12.

Apple occasionally offers updates to iOS, watchOS, tvOS, and macOS as closed developer previews or public betas for iPhone, iPad, Apple TV and Mac (sadly, no public beta for the Apple Watch). While the betas contain new features, they also contain pre-release bugs that can prevent the normal use of your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, or Mac, and are not intended for everyday use on a primary device. That's why we strongly recommend staying away from developer previews unless you need them for software development, and using the public betas with caution. If you depend on your devices, wait for the final release.

Where to find Screen Time

Screen Time is in the Settings app on your iPhone and iPad, just above the Do Not Disturb feature.

When you tap into Screen Time, you'll see your activity dashboard and the tools you can use to restrict your device usages.

Activity dashboard

The activity dashboard is where the focus of Screen Time lies. It's where you'll get detailed information about how much time you're spending on your device, which apps you're spending time in, and the times of day you're using your device. The information is presented as graph chart that you can tap into to get more details.

For example, your daily chart shows a time graph of apps you've used throughout the day and for how long. Touch one of the graph bars to see details on how much time you spent in that app during that timeframe.

Below the bar graph, you'll see details on each app you've opened that day, plus how many minutes total for the day you've spent in the app.

Under the app list, you'll see how many times you've picked up your phone, how often you've picked up your phone, and during which time of the day you've picked up your phone the most.

Below the phone pickups section, you'll see your notifications summary. On display are how many notifications you've received, how often you've received them (on average) and which apps you've received notifications from.

You can view your activity dashboard as a daily summary and a weekly summary. The same information is included on each dashboard, but the weekly summary includes all details over the past seven days.

Downtime

Downtime is a section in Screen Time that lets you set a daily schedule for when your iPhone is just off limits. When Downtime is set, only approved apps (that you've approved) and phone calls will be available.

You'll set a start and end time for when you want Downtime to be enabled. This will happen every day at the same time while enabled.

While Downtime is running, your Home screen will dim. The apps you've approved access to will be highlighted. When you tap an app to launch it, you'll see the "Time Limit Reached" screen.

You can ignore the restriction by tapping Ignore Limit. You can then set a reminder in 15 minutes that you've reached your screen time limit or set to ignore the limit for the day.

When Downtime is over, your screen will brighten back up and you'll have access to your apps again.

Note: Downtime will affect all devices you are signed in to with the same iCloud account running iOS 12.

App Limits

If, during your review of your daily and weekly device activity, you notice you're spending a lot of time in certain category of apps that you'd like to spend less time in, you can set daily limits for accessing those apps.

App Limits work similar to Downtime, but instead of a particular time of day, you can limit use to a specific amount of time.

In the Screen Time dashboard, tap App Limits > Add Limit and then select a category. Then tap Add to pick the time limit you want.

When you've spent a certain amount of time in apps that fit the category, you'll get a notification that you're near your daily limit.

Once you've hit the limit, you'll see the "Time Limit Reached" screen instead of the app's content.

You can ignore the restriction by tapping Ignore Limit. You can then set a reminder in 15 minutes that you've reached your screen time limit or set to ignore the limit for the day.

The next day, you'll be able to access those apps again.

Note: App Limits will affect all devices you are signed in to with the same iCloud account running iOS 12.

Parental Controls for Screen Time

Screen Time isn't just for you. It's also for your kids. It's also for you to see how your kids are doing. Using Family Sharing, you can get a weekly report about every device in your Family Sharing family.

The weekly report will show you the same information you see in your personal weekly dashboard, including how much time they're spending on their device, which apps they're using the most, and the time of day they're using their device.

Based on the information you've gathered from your children's Screen Time report, you can decide whether to restrict how much time they spend on their device.

You can set up Downtime and App Limits remotely from your iPhone in the Screen Time section of your Settings app.

Similar to approving apps for use on your own device during Downtime, you can free up certain apps for your kids to use during Downtime, too.

For example, you can schedule Downtime between 5:00 PM and midnight every night on your kids' device, but allow educational apps and text messages to come through.

From your device, you can also restrict apps, games, and content (movies, music, TV shows) based on what you consider appropriate for their age.

Any questions?

Do you have any questions about what Screen Time is or how it works? Put your questions in the comments section and I'll help you out.

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