How to Utilize iPhone’s New Screen Time Feature

According to a study conducted in 2018 by PEW Research Center, 95% of Americans own a cell phone of some sort and 77% specifically own a smart phone.  In addition, almost 75% of Americans also own additional digital devices such as a desktop or laptop computer. One thing is clear – technology is everywhere, all the time! Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know that digital addiction is a hot topic, especially with today’s youth. For the past few years, many individuals, especially parents and educators, have expressed concern over youth’s addiction to their devices.  In fact, our own BOKS Founder & Executive Director Kathleen Tullie likened today’s digital addiction to previous generations’ cigarette addiction in both her blog post & LinkedIn article earlier this year.

However, over the past few months, tech companies have taken a step up to combat this addiction. In August, Facebook & Instagram launched app upgrades to limit the time spent on those apps. Just a few weeks ago, Apple released iOS 12, unveiling a new Screen Time feature, debatably the biggest improvement within the operating system and undoubtedly an incredible tool for parents to manage their family’s screen time. While not an ultimate solution, this new iOS feature finally gives parents a tool to curve their children’s screen time, or even restrict usage to certain categories apps. (Note: If you aren’t familiar with Screen Time, check out an overview of its functionality here.)

After using the feature a few weeks ourselves, we’d like to share some advice to those looking to utilize this new iPhone functionality:

  • Lead by example: All apps might not be created equal, but screen time is screen time and kids are very observant. To them, replying to your important emails is the same as sending a snapchat back to their bestie. Set goals and restrictions for yourself at the same time as you do so for your kids, and explain to them that you are all in this together (and mean it!).
  • Offer an enticing alternative to Screen Time: Try coordinating your family’s official “downtime” and spend the time doing something as a family. These activities can be anything from cooking a meal together, playing a game, going for a family walk, or doing a family BOKS Burst (these are free – sign up to receive via email here).
  • Start small and be patient: While turning the Screen Time functionality on might just take a few clicks, actual behavior change in your child’s (or your) habits isn’t nearly as quick. Start with small, attainable goals and reward yourselves for meeting them.

Good luck, you got this – now put whatever device you’re reading this on down and go do something active!