Enabling remote Screen Time for an Adult Explorer

In a previous post I covered setting up local Screen Time in iOS 12. Remote Screen Time, where a Guide can manage an Explorer’s screen time from the Guide’s iPhone works similarly, but it requires setting up Family Sharing and possibly changing an Explorer’s birthdate. Here’s the draft version of that setup:

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It’s great to be able to manage an Explorer’s Screen Time settings from a Guide’s iPhone. There’s some setup required however — with an extra step for an adult Explorer.

There are two things that have to happen to enable remote Screen Time management of an Explorer’s iPhone from a Guide’s iPhone. First, the Explorer has to be part of a Family Sharing group for which the Guide is an Organizer. Second, if you want to be able to Block rather than just Remind, Apple must think the Explorer is under 18 years old.

Apple’s describes setting up “Family Sharing” in the User Guide and a support article[1]. I describe it further in Buying apps and media for an Explorer’s iPhone. Briefly, start by searching iPhone Settings for “Family”, tap on Family Sharing, and add people by their Apple ID email. You can add up to five people (Apple IDs).

Then, for the entire Family, you choose which “Shared Features” to enable. One of them is “Screen Time”. For each Family Member tap on Screen Time, then enable it. Your family member will receive an invitation to join which they can then accept. Typically a Guide would do this for their Explorer with the Explorer’s iPhone at hand.

If a Family Member is not set up as a Parent/Guardian they can have Screen Time settings. If Apple thinks a family member is more than 18 years old they will be able to override any Screen Time limits. If Apple thinks a Family Member is under 18 then limits can be created that only an Organizer or Parent/Guardian can override. Apple calls these “Blocks”

For some adult Explorers a true Block may be the best choice. To enable this you need to change the Explorer’s birthday in their Apple ID setup. This is easy to do. From the Explorer’s iPhone tap on their name at the top of Settings (Apple ID). Tap “Name, Phone Numbers, Email”. Scroll down to Birthday, tap on the Birthdate, then change it. For my Explorers I have set the birthdate so that they are “14” at the time of the change. I have not found any side-effects with changing birth dates but I suggest writing down what date you chose. That might be important if an Explorer ever needs to establish their identity to Apple.

Although this setup is not hard it’s not ideal. There’s more Apple could do to support Adult Explorers. They could separate Screen Time from Family Sharing, and they could eliminate the need to give an adult Explorer a child’s birthdate. These are topics I’d hope advocacy groups will help with. I’ll address them again in the last chapter of this book.

[1] https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT20108