How to use Screen Time and App Limits in iOS 12 on iPhone and iPad


Since the latest version of iOS, Apple iOS 12, it is possible to keep track of your screen time via the built-in screen time settings on your iPhone or iPad. With Screen Time in iOS 12, you can track how much time you’ve spent using certain applications on your Apple devices.

The time you have spent is divided into a number of ways you have spent time on your device. For example, you can see how often you have picked up an iPhone and how many notifications you have received.




This information is subdivided into the applications that are responsible for it. The applications are divided into categories, such as Entertainment, Productivity, Health & Fitness, Social Networking, Games, Other, Creativity, Reading & Reference, and Education.

Very handy if you want to get more insight into your daily or weekly screen time per category. Suppose you spent a lot of time on social networking applications then click on the category and you will immediately see the total screen time, the average screen time and the apps or websites you use most.

How to use Screen Time?

To use Screen Time on your Apple device, activate Screen Time first. On your Apple device, open the settings and click Screen Time. Press Continue to accept the screen time information.

In the overview, you immediately see the screen time of today in a summary. Click on the name of your Apple device to learn more about which apps you have used most, how many times you have picked up your iPhone or iPad, and how many notifications you have received per application.

How to set up App Limits for a category on iPhone or iPad?

Open settings, press Screen Time and open App Limits. Now click on Add Limit. You can now choose from the category or categories to set the App Limit.

Suppose you want to set a limit on the category Games. Then select Games and click Add in the top right corner. You can now set a time when Games are only temporarily accessible on your iPhone or iPad.

To set a different limit per day, press Customize Day. This option allows you to set a different limit per day, for example, no limit or more or less time. Very handy if you want to spend less time on your iPhone or iPad during the weekend and use the apps without limits during the week.

The user will be notified 5 minutes before the end of the time that the limit has been exceeded.

screen time - app limit notification

Once the limit has expired, the following message will appear on your iPhone or iPad.

Time Limit
You’ve reached your limit on…
Ignore Limit

If you press ignore limit then you can choose “remind me in 15 minutes” or “ignore limit for today”.

ignore limit screen time - time limit reached

What’s good to know is that the App Limit is reset every day at midnight.

If there is a limit set for an application then you can use this application on the day for the set time. Once the limit has expired, an hourglass icon will appear next to the name of the application on your iPhone or iPad. This indicates that the screen limit has expired.

hour glass icon screen time- iphone ios ipad

How to set up App Limit for Application or Web pages?

Besides limiting complete categories, it is of course also possible to set a screen limit per application or even per website. This is useful if, for example, you have blocked Facebook’s application but someone is still trying to access Facebook using facebook.com via the web browser.

If you prefer to set a limit per application or per website on your iPhone or iPad, follow the steps below.

Open the settings on your iPhone or iPad, press Screen time. Open the overview that shows the total screen time, just below the name of your device. If necessary, next to “most used” click on show apps & websites.

Now select the application or website from the list. If you can’t find the application or website click on “show more”. You will now see the information about the application or website and the screen time spent on it. To set a limit, press Add Limit at the bottom.

add limit - screen time ios iphone ipad

Now set a limit for this application or website. If you want to block the entire application or website after the screen time has elapsed, activate “Block at end of limit”.

There is a disadvantage to a limit setting per website by means of Screen Time. Screen Time for Websites is only available through Safari. I tested it with Chrome and Firefox and both didn’t report when the limit expired for a website I had set up with Screen Time.

Set up downtime with Screen Time on iOS 12

Downtime is a function to block all applications for a specific time on your iPhone or iPad. Very handy if, for example, you want to spend between 7 PM and 9 PM more time with your family or friends than you or your kid spend on the iPhone or iPad.

Please note that downtime is synchronized via iCloud. This means that all the devices you manage that have the same iCloud ID installed will also have downtime. This applies to all functions in Screen Time.

Open Settings, press Screen Time. Open Downtime, and activate Downtime. Now set a start time and an end time and return to settings. Your applications are now unavailable in this time period.

set up downtime - screen time ios iphone ipad

Always allowed apps in Screen Time

You can choose to use certain applications and calls are always available despite Downtime.

Open the settings on your iPhone or iPad, press Screen Time and go to Always Allowed. Next, to the application you always want to allow, click on the green plus icon. This application is now always available, despite Downtime and the app is excluded from “All Apps & Categories”.

screen time - always allowed apps iphone ios ipad

How to use Content & Privacy Restrictions?

Content & Privacy Restrictions allows you to block certain content on your iPhone or iPad. There is a huge amount of content that you can block.

For example, you can choose to block the installation, deletion, or purchase of apps on your iPhone or iPad, or to set whether or not to use the location services for each application. The list is endless and therefore some knowledge is required.

I personally find a handy feature of Content & Privacy Restrictions to be the blocking of certain websites.

Open Settings, press Screen Time, and open Content & Privacy Restrictions. Activate Content & Privacy Restrictions by pressing the slider. You can now set different restrictions on your iPhone or iPad. In this example, I take the example of blocking or allowing websites.

Go to Content Restrictions, then open the Web Content menu. Here you can choose unrestricted access, limit adult websites, or allowed websites only. You can set the type of setting you to want here.

screen time - web content settings ios iphone ipad

How to turn off screen time on iPhone or iPad?

Screen Time is handy, but if it’s your iPhone or iPad and you don’t want to keep any limits or statistics on your device usage at all, it’s better to turn off Screen Time.

Open Settings, tap op Screen Time, scroll down to Turn Off Screen Time.

turn off screen time - iphone ipad ios 12

How to use Screen Time for Family?

Screen Time for the family makes it possible to track the iPhone or iPad usage of your family, for example, your children. It is also possible, as discussed earlier, to set certain restrictions for your family.

If your child is under the age of 13, the screen time can be tracked via the parent’s device. You will need to set up Family Sharing to do this.

To configure family sharing, go to Settings, tap on your Apple ID (your name) and open Set up Family Sharing. Follow the steps to add your child to your iPhone or iPad.

set up screen time for family - ios iphone ipad

Once you have done so, you can select your child’s name in Screen Time for family.

Then you can add the screen time per category, application or website as described above in this tutorial. You can now follow your child’s screen time and get an overview of the user statistics per week.

How to use Screen Time passcode?

To impose a time limit on your child via Screen Time, you can also use a passcode. This is a four-digit code required in order to unlock and change the settings in Screen Time.

Very handy if you have set a time limit on Games by means of the instructions above and this time has expired. It is then not possible to extend or ignore the time without a code.

Open the settings on your iPhone or iPad and press Screen Time. Now open “Use Screen Time Passcode” and enter a four-digit passcode. Of course, do not share this passcode with other people. However, it is advisable to exclude applications that should always be available by means of “Always allowed”.

enable screen time passcode - ios 12 iphone ipad

How to share Screen Time activity?

It is possible to share the Screen Time activity and results via multiple iOS devices you own. You can share the results and activity via iCloud. Sharing the Screen Time activity via iCloud adds up and shares all results of all paired iOS devices.

This gives you a much more complete overview of the total use of all your iOS devices. Of course, all devices such as iPhones and iPads must have iOS 12 and be logged in with the same Apple ID.

Open Settings, go to Screen Time and activate the “Share Across Devices” option using the slider. Now click “All Devices” in Screen Time to see the combined use. To view statistics by the device, click Devices at the top right of the screen and select the desired device to view screen time activity.

screen time for all devices - ios iphone ipad

I hope this article has helped you use Screen time and manage App Limits on your iPhone or iPad with iOS 12.
Thank you for reading!

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