By Jodie Utter
This fall, Apple will roll out its newest update. It will offer parents greater control over content their kid views. Additionally, it will track the amount of time they spend interacting with an iOS device. Following Google’s lead to address SmartPhone addiction, new tools will include increased monitoring, usage time and activity reports.
Currently, Apple’s parental controls merely allow for limiting usage of adult apps, music and video. There is growing public concern over unlimited exposure to social media for young people. Smartphone addiction combined with increased rates of distraction, suicide, and depression in teens led Apple to respond. It has developed more precise tools for monitoring content and control over iOS device usage for parents. For moms and dads looking to more effectively manage how their teen accesses iOS devices, the Screen Time, App Limits, and Down Time features will be of particular help.
Mobile Phone Addiction
Screen Time will generate daily and weekly reports detailing how many times users pick up their devices, the number of notifications they receive, the categories of apps and websites they use most often and the amount of time they spend interacting with each app.
According to public statements, Apple intends these reports to help users glean a greater understanding of how they use their devices. They’re also intended to assist in making personal decisions about controls they’d like to implement. This is especially helpful to parents who aren’t privy to specific apps and websites their kid is using or how long they use them each day. The new App Limits feature allows parents to set limits on time spent on websites, apps or a category of apps.
Also, parents will be able to set time periods for their child’s phone to be powered off. Down Time can be scheduled on devices. Parents can specify which apps can and can’t be used and when. If parents want to limit access to an entire category of apps, such as social media or gaming, during specified time periods for things like homework, dinner, or bedtime, they can.
The new parental controls are account-based. Parents can access Screen Time to view reports and set limits on their teen’s device remotely via devices connected through Family Sharing or directly from their teen’s device.
Cell Phone Usage
Totals for settings, usage reports, and limits set are based on usage across all of a users iOS devices. Thus, if a kid uses multiple iOS devices, he or she will reach a time limit on an app on their iPhone. The app will be inaccessible on their iPad as well. A screen notification will appear when a child is about to reach a time limit. The child can request more time from a parent/guardian. The updates also address privacy and security concerns of user data. And they do not apply solely to adults wanting to monitor their children’s phone usage. iOS 12 is adding new animated emojis, called Memoji. These emoji can be customized to the user’s appearance. Options include skin tone, hairstyles, facial features and accessories (like hair bows or sunglasses.) With the ability to put your custom Memoji into your text chat, the fun never ends, amirite?
Apple will run a public beta program later this month. Customers can sign up to preview and help shape pre-release versions of new software updates.
The net-net is this is good news for those who wish to have better insight into teen SmartPhone usage. Parents, however, should keep communicating rules and guidelines for healthy tech habits.
Jodie Utter is a freelance writer & creator of the blog, Utter Imperfection. She works to connect pain to pain and struggle so we’ll feel less alone inside our stories and more at home in our hearts, minds, and relationships. You can connect with her on her blog, Utter Imperfection and on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.