Policing how much time your family spends on their digital devices is a huge part of being a parent these days. Kids love to lose themselves in their smartphone and tablet screens, and setting vague limits or trusting them to put their phones down at bedtime doesn’t always work out the way we’d like it to. There are a number of different apps that help parents monitor how much time their kids are spending on their phones, but Apple just one-upped all of them by baking those features right into the next version of iOS.
iOS 12 includes a couple of super handy new features including Activity Reports and App Limits. You can find both in the new Screen Time app, and they’re designed to help curb bad digital habits for your entire family. Here’s how they work:
Activity Reports are easy-to-read summaries that tally how much time someone is using their iPhone or iPad, and what they’re doing with it. Parents will be able to access their kids’ activity reports right from within their own iOS devices — no more “give me your phone!” to check if they were playing Fortnite after dark! — and the report shows what kinds of apps kids used and for how long. Even better, it shows what the “longest session” of gadget use was, and even how long the phone was used after bedtime.
You can dive into the statistics for either a single day or for a whole week to see if things have changed from day-to-day and help spot troubling trends. Parents can see what the average usage is overall and the app shows whether the current day or week is above or below the average use time for that particular phone or tablet.
Detailed reports are awesome, but I’m even more excited about App Limits. Just like you’d guess from the name, App Limits let you put limits on how long kids can use an app. For parents, that means setting daily limits for apps like Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, and mobile games is now easier than ever. When they reach the app’s time limit, a screen pops up to let your child know it’s time to log off!
You can check exactly how many minutes are left for each specific app, or even give them a bit of added allowance, which makes a great incentive for getting their homework and chores done before you have to groan about it.