THE BRIEF

The buzz about the release of the new iPhone XS and Apple Watch has mostly been about price and size, but the iOS 12 software update has some notable new parental controls and screen time features.

DEEP DIVE

The new iPhone iOS 12 update includes flexible and easy to use settings for monitoring and gatekeeping your and your children’s screen time and app usage. With iPhones,iPads, and iPods that are connected by family sharing settings, certain controls, and limitations can be implemented remotely to encourage your children to have safe and healthy phone usage.

Content Control

Settings can prevent children from making in-app and music purchases. Certain content like explicit songs, web browsing and video content can be limited through the Privacy & Restrictions settings.

Screen Time & Usage Tracking

You can set up weekly alerts that tell you how much, and on which apps you and your family have been using their devices. Although these numbers may be hard to grapple with, depending on the degree to which you are “addicted” to your phone, knowing them can be the first step to reducing time spent scrolling through Facebook or obsessively checking your email. It can also show you how much your kids have been using apps like Snapchat, Amino, or Monkey.

App Limits

If the statistics on your family’s screen time show that you spend more time staring at your devices than you’d like, you can use restrictions to limit both your and your kids’ app usage, which can always be overridden by you. Apps can be limited by to certain time limits or at certain times by category (like social media or gaming), or by the individual app. When your child runs out of time on the app, they can request more, which you can either approve or decline.

Downtime

Downtime is a feature in which you can limit the use of apps during certain times of the day. It makes it so some or most apps cannot be accessed during meal times or before bedtime, for example. This can allow for more present dinner conversations and less screen time right before bed, which can negatively affect sleep.

Certain apps can be set to be “always allowed.” The calling and texting features are automatically always allowed and you can customize which other apps can be used without limitations, even during downtime.

These new restrictions can facilitate healthier and less pervasive electronic usage. Parental controls pair best with comprehensive family conversations about device and internet usage. For exact instructions on how to manage these settings, Apple’s website has a step-by-step guide.