Screen Time – the quick setup guide

I’m still rewriting Screen Time advice. Decided to put together the simplest possible setup for “Local” Screen Time (not using family sharing screen time). This give 90% of the value of more complex use.


Using the Explorer’s iPhone open Settings:Screen Time. Tap “Turn On Screen Time”. When asked “Is This iPhone for Yourself or Your Child” be sure to tap “This is My Child’s iPhone”.

The next screens ask about Downtime and App Limits. Tap “Not Now” for both.

Set a Parent Passcode. Don’t use the Explorer’s phone passcode! This has to be a 4 digit number and the Explorer would not normally know it. Don’t lose the passcode, you can’t reset it.

That’s It! You’ve enabled Local Screen Time. You haven’t set up any restrictions though, so your Explorer won’t notice any difference in their iPhone.

Go back to Screen Time:Settings and do these three things:

  1. Always Allowed: Tap on “Always Allowed” and add apps that every Explorer should always have access to. Basically everying that’s useful but boring[1].
  2. App Limits: Tap on “App Limits”, then “Add Limit”, choose “All Apps & Categories” and set a daily limit of, say, 3 hours. Be sure to enable “Block at End of Limit”[2].
  3. Downtime: Tap on “Downtime” and enter time that Explorer is at work or school.


That’s it. You’re done! With this setup the “Always Allowed” apps are never disabled. So your Explorer can alway use their Calendar, Reminders and so on. During work or school hours (Downtime) games, social media and the like won’t work. For the rest of the day “fun” apps can be used for a maximum of 3 hours. (Productivity apps count against this limit too, but most people use these less than 10 minutes a day.)

If an Explorer runs into a limit the non-permitted app will stop working and the Home Screen icon will show a small timer icon. They can bring the device to a Guide who can enter the security code and override the block for a few minutes or for the day.

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[1] Example: Messages, FaceTime, Maps, Books, Calculator, Calendar, Camera, Compass, Contacts, Find Friends, Health, Mail, Notes, Photos, Reminders, Voice Memos, Weather. For many add Books and Music and consider Podcasts. If your Explorer uses Googe Maps then add that too.

[2] This is easy to miss. If you don’t do this then your Explorer just gets a notice they can override. In some cases this is what you want, but that’s more advanced use. “Block at End of Limit” is the default.


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