Discipline, Not Control: Screen Time Management on iPhone

Unmanaged iPhone screen time can be highly detrimental to a person’s lifestyle and health and may cause over dependency. This is especially rampant among today’s generation of children who are digital natives.

Fortunately, Apple introduced a solution to this problem by launching the iPhone Screen Time feature.


What is Screen Time on an iPhone?


The Screen Time feature first came to light when the iOS 12 was launched. Through this feature, you can monitor how much time you’ve spent on your phone and manage your and your children’s daily screen time on different apps. As an alternative, you may also use the Downtime feature to limit access to only a few apps.

These were then developed further and released with the iOS 13. All Screen Time features were enhanced and expanded. Several new actions can be made, including limiting access to content by grouping apps, websites, and app categories and receiving weekly graph reports on your children’s screen time. With this, you can effectively discipline your child or combat tech addiction.

By upgrading to iOS 13.3 or higher, you may even control who can contact you and your kids through calls, SMS, or any video calling applications. This keeps you and your children away from spam messages, malicious calls, and the like.

How to Use Apple’s Screen Time on iPhone or iPad?

If you’re not a digital native or a techy person, then you may be wondering how to set up the iPhone Screen Time. To help you out, here are the things you can do on the app together with a step-by-step process on how to set up the limitations.

How to Check Screen Time on iPhone?

If you haven’t enabled the Screen Time feature, here’s how to do it:

  1. First, have your iPhone updated to iOS 13.3 or higher. You can check by going to Settings > General > About. If version 13.3 is on the list, then you’re good to go. If not, then go back to the General page, select Software Update, and install the latest iOS update.


  2. Go to the Settings and Enable the Screen Time. Read what’s presented to you on screen, then select Continue. You will then be asked if the owner is for you or your child. Select the option that applies.
  3. Create a passcode if you want by clicking on the “Use Screen Time Passcode”.
  4. If you have more than one iPhone, you may want to turn on the “Share Across Devices” feature to track your activity on all of these gadgets.

To check your or your kid’s hours on screen, the Screen Time app can be found in the iPhone settings. Upon clicking, the screen will show a daily average count on the top in the form of a graph. This graph shows how much time the phone owner had spent online for the day.

If you think the screen time is slightly too high from what you initially thought, just below the graph, you will find a “See All Activity” button. This shows you a breakdown of all the apps used during this course and how long they were used.

How to Limit Screen Time on iPhone?

In today’s age, a lot of people have become overly dependent on gadgets. Hence, in terms of screen time for all sorts of non-essential online activities such as social media, then you may want to tone down on the exposure.

To do so, you may track your and your children’s digital usage through Screen Time. Here are the steps to limiting Screen Time on iPhone:

Turn On Downtime

The Downtown feature is used to set a certain time frame when you should not use your phone. This is best enabled during the evening, in times for sleep or work. When this feature is enabled, you may only open the apps that you allow.

Here is how to create a Downtime on your iPhone:

  1. Open Screen Time App found on the settings.
  2. Click on Downtime, then turn the switch on by tapping it. You will know that it is enabled when the switch turns green.


  3. Set a timer when the downtime starts and type it down on the Start area. Then, set a time for when the downtime ends in the End area.
  4. Next, return to the Screen Time options in the settings and select the “Always Allowed” button. Upon doing so, you should find yourself on a page with a list of apps automatically enabled for use even during Downtime – phone, messages, maps, and FaceTime included.


  5. If you want certain applications to be allowed even during downtime, scroll through the app list and click on the green plus icon just beside it to make it an Allowed app. To remove, click the red button on the left side.

Declare App Limits on App Categories

This is the feature that prevents you from using certain apps for long periods of time. Basically, this reminds you that you’ve eaten up the timers you’ve set when using a certain app. However, it does allow minimal extension, or you can simply pay no mind to it if needed. Here is how to declare app limits to app categories:

  1. Open Screen Time and click on “App Limits”. Upon doing so, you should be brought to a screen with an “Add Limit” button; select this.


  2. After doing so, you will see a list of app categories on the screen. To select, click on the circles on the left of a particular category. When finished, click on “Add” in the upper right corner to proceed.
  3. Next, use the wheel to set a time limit for every app category you’ve added. You can go from a few minutes to hours.


  4. Return to the App Limits page, and you should see new limits on the list. To make changes, tap on these limits and make the necessary alterations. To delete, select the red “Delete Limit” button.

Instead of making app limits for app categories, you may also set limits for specific apps only. Here are the steps to do so:

  1. Scroll down on the Screen Time page until you find the Most Used section. Select this, and you should see a list of applications that you used most frequently.


  2. Choose the app you want to set timers for, then click on the “Add Limit” button found on the bottom of the screen.
  3. Just like how you did in setting time limits with app categories, use the wheel to set the number of minutes or hours you’re allowed to use the app.
  4. Afterward, click on the Add button found in the upper right corner of your screen, and you should now see a new limit on the limit list.

Set A Screen Time Passcode

Now, if you want to keep your Screen Time information secure and private, then you may want to set up a Screen Time Passcode for your app. To do so, here are the steps:

  1. On the Screen Time page, click on the blue-colored “Use Screen Time Passcode” at the bottom of the page.


  2. Create a passcode and re-enter it twice to confirm. Make sure to keep it somewhere safe so in case you forget it, you know where you’ve kept it.

How to Establish Content and Privacy Restrictions?

Now, this feature is made to control what content you or your children can access – websites, media, and apps included. This way, you can protect your children from sensitive and inappropriate content.

Here is how to set content and privacy restrictions:

  1. On the Screen Time page, select “Content and Privacy Restrictions” and turn it on.
  2. Next, click on iTunes and App Store Purchases to either block or enable app installation, deletion, and purchases like buying updates for games. You may also require a passcode for in-app purchases if preferred.


  3. Go back to the Content and Privacy Restrictions page and open the “Allowed Apps”. When opened, you should see a list of enabled apps on the screen. Turn off the apps you want to disable; this way, the app will completely disappear from the Home Screen. Turning it on again will have it back on the home screen.


  4. Afterward, return to the previous page, then select “Content Restrictions”. Make the necessary restrictions based on different criteria, such as movie ratings available on the iStore and the like. The Web Content aspect allows you to stop access to adult websites. To delete certain sites, just drag the name to the left and click “Delete”.


  5. Lastly, the “Allow Changes” section allows you to limit phone volume, cellular data usage, etc.

Best Apps for Screen Time Control

Aside from the iPhone’s Screen Time feature, there are also many available apps on the iStore to control screen time. Here are some of the best apps for this service:



One of the best apps of its kind for parents, providing online and offline child safety. In addition to accurate geolocation, LIVE-listening, and many other functions from the “real world”, Findmykids displays a list of applications in which the child is sitting, and the time spent in them. You will be able to understand how much time and where your child spends in order to limit it and protect kid from unwanted content.

You can download the app right now from the AppStore.


This blocks apps and websites that can cause distraction during work or study hours, including social media, online shopping, or news media.


Keeps digital time controlled by managing your “digital diet”. You can have your digital usage timed, and at the same time, set a “digital timeout” for mealtime and the like.



This one is for parents who want to set schedules, give rewards to children who cooperate, block certain apps, and detect sensitive media on their children’s devices. This way, you can block inappropriate sites you saw your children access. You can protect up to 30 devices with this app.


It reminds users that it’s time to get off their gadget and do something else like study, eat meals, etc. IT also shows the time when the iPad will be ready for use again.


Allows you to manage screen time by blocking inappropriate content, monitor online activity, and set time limitations for apps and games.

Read also How to Block and Restrict Apps on iPhone: A Step-by-Step Guide.

iPhone Screen Time for Discipline, Not Control


Overall, the iPhone Screen Time feature is a highly recommended feature for those struggling with tech addiction and for parents who want to monitor their children’s screen time. However, it is also best to remember that the Screen Time feature can only do so much for you. At the end of the day, it will all depend on how you’ve disciplined yourself or your children.

Do not control your children, instead have them willingly cooperate, otherwise they will become rebellious or frustrated. To do so, you may set a reward system to encourage your children to have their usage limited. You may also introduce them to other hobbies and sports that they can keep themselves occupied with. This way, your kids will not grow up with their entertainment depending solely on digital activities and games.

Got your iPhone right beside you? Then it may be the best time to start checking your screen time right now!

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