Are you or your family members having issues with Screen Time not working on your iDevices? Trying to monitor or restrict your child’s access to apps, but finding the Screen Time settings are not working across all your families’ many devices? Or having problems with the Screen Time reports or controls not showing up to all the parents assigned in your Family Sharing group? If so, you are not alone! And we are here to help.
This article details tips to get Screen Time working for your family and helps you figure out why Screen Time is not working for your family.
So let’s get to it!
- When you toggle on Screen Time’s setting to Share Across Devices, restart that device to sync Screen Time with iCloud
- Make sure all devices run the same version of iOS (including the minor release)
- If you can’t remember your Screen Time passcode, enter the passcode you used or use to use for Restrictions or Guided Access
- If that doesn’t work or isn’t applicable, try restoring to a backup you made with iTunes or iCloud before you set that passcode
- For more tips, see this article
- Toggle Screen Time off, restart the device, and turn it back on
- Do this for any devices you manage via Family Sharing
- Verify that all family members have accepted their Family Sharing invitations
- Make sure that all adults in your Family Sharing Plan have approval for Ask to Buy requests
- Check that your Date & Time is accurate to your current location. Go to Settings > General > Date & Time. Try toggling on Set Automatically
- Check that Black at End of Limit is toggled ON for Screen Time > App Limits and Block at Downtime is ON in your Screen Time > Downtime settings
- A random setting may get in the way, so try resetting all your iPhone’s settings. Go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset All Settings
- This resets to default everything in Settings, including notifications, alerts, brightness, and clock settings like wake up alarms.
- ScreenTime now allows you to customize Downtime by specific day of the week (for iOS 12.2+) Tap on Settings > ScreenTime> Downtime and tap on ‘Customize Days‘ to get started.
- Can’t Remove Old Device From Screen Time on iPhone or iPad?
- Use Screen Time to ‘Lock’ Your Most Sensitive Apps
- How To Use Screen Time With Your Family Sharing Account
- How to reset Screen Time passcode on iOS 12 and above
- Where are Restrictions in iOS 12+?
If you are trying to curb your smartphone usage, or want to keep an eye on your kids, the feature is perfect. Or at least that is what Apple hopes!
What is Screen Time?
As we mentioned above, Screen Time is a part of a new digital wellness program from Apple. The idea is to keep you from spending too much time on your device and to get you back to experiencing life.
If you end up finding that you are using apps like Facebook, YouTube or Twitter too much, you can actually set time limits.
To find the Screen Time information, here are the steps:
1. Open Settings on your iPhone
2. Scroll down and select Screen Time
From here, Apple shows you a breakdown of which types of apps you frequently and regularly use. Then, there are options for Downtime, App Limits, Always Allowed, and Content & Privacy Restrictions.
You can even set up a Screen Time passcode which will allow you to use apps even after the limits expire. Additionally, you can set up Screen Time for Family, which provides time reports for how much your child is using different apps.
Screen Time Doesn’t Turn On, Not Clickable, or Greyed Out?
If you see these problems, it usually means that you are not listed as a parent or guardian in your Family Sharing Plan.
When Screen Time isn’t editable, your device is restricted by your Family Sharing Plan.
Screen Time Not Showing Your Child?
Make sure you are in a Family Sharing Plan and that you turn on “Add Family Member”
- Launch Settings > Apple ID
- Tap Family Sharing > Add Family Member
- If it’s greyed out, you are not the Family Organizer. Ask the Family Organizer to add a family member
- Send an invitation via Messages if family members aren’t seeing or getting your invites
If that doesn’t help, make sure you turn ON Parent/Guardian/Adult approvals for anyone listed as a parent or guardian:
- Go to Settings > Apple ID Profile > Family Sharing
- Select anyone listed as a parent, guardian, or adult
- Tap Parent/Guardian to turn it ON
- Turning this feature on requires that you approve requests for anyone listed as a child in your Family Sharing account
- Turning this feature on requires that you approve requests for anyone listed as a child in your Family Sharing account
Family Screen Time Issues
It seems that there are quite a few issues for those who are trying to take advantage of Family Screen Time. In one instance, the parent had to replace the child’s iPhone but none of the information transferred to the new device.
Instead, the old iPhone is still listed alongside the new iPhone but is set as the default. To bypass this issue and get the right devices listed, the first step you’ll want to take is to register it under the correct Apple ID.
Then, if that doesn’t work, follow these steps:
1. Open Settings
2. Tap on the Apple ID at the top
3. Scroll all the way to the bottom to view devices
4. Delete the old iPhone if it is no longer in use
For some reason, it doesn’t seem like Apple fixed this issue entirely. Instead, some users are still running into the same problems with Screen Time.
If you are having issues with Screentime and Family Sharing, we have a comprehensive guide that walks you through the setup and addresses some of the common problems such as gray screen on screen time, understanding parents vs. adults rights and other issues.
In that case, use the Feedback site to submit your issue to Apple. Hopefully, a workaround will be on the way in a future release.
Screen Time Limit (App Limits) not working?
First, check that Block at End of Limit is toggled ON.
If this is not turned on, your child sees a message just letting them know the limit has been reached and allowing them to ignore the limit.
If your child clicks ignore for today, then the limit is useless.
Reset Your App Limit Preferences
- Go to Settings > Screen Time
- Turn Off Screen Time
- At the confirmation, tap Turn Off Screen Time again
- Restart your device
- Return to Settings > Screen Time, tap Turn On Screen Time
- Toggle on Share Across Devices (Settings > Screen Time > Share Across Devices)
- Select App Limits and set up your App Limits again
- Check that the toggle for Block at End of Limit is ON:
- Settings > Screen Time > App Limits > Choose the category > tap Next > Toggle ON Block at End of Limit
- Tap the Add button at the top right to save your preferences
Set a Specific Limit Per App
- To set a limit per app, tap on the Screen Time graph on your child’s iPhone or iPad/iPod
- Select either Today or Last 7 Days to see apps used within the previous week
- Scroll down the most used section and locate the app you want to set a specific limit for
- Tap that app and then tap Add Limit underneath the Limits category
- If asked, enter your Screen Time Passcode (same as Restrictions)
- Add the time limit you want (see image part A)
- To change hours for each day (or for the weekend), press Customize Days and set the limit on a per-day basis
- Toggle on Block at End of Limit (see image part B)
- Press Add at the top-right of the screen to save (see image part C)
- Once saved, you see an hourglass icon next to the app and the app limit shows up as an individual app (with restrictions listed) in Settings > Screen Time > App Limits
Add Screen Time’s Downtime Feature
- Another idea is to use Downtime in combinations with Screen Time’s App Limits
- Set a period of the day when you want your children to be device-free using the From and To time entries
- Then make sure you toggle on Block at Downtime
Get children’s info to show up properly
Another issue that seems to be plaguing parents is that the data iOS shares across devices are not 100% accurate. There are reports that the name of devices are not correctly matching up and are sharing the wrong information.
One fix for this is to reset Screen Time completely on all devices. Make sure you update your devices to the latest version of iOS.
After you follow those two steps, then you will have to follow the process for setting Screen Time up again. This repetition can be a tedious process, but doing so should work out any of the kinks that are plaguing Screen Time.
Finally, one user claimed that you should toggle on ‘share across devices.’ This feature helps ensure that the proper information shares without providing incorrect data.
There are some well-documented ways that kids can cheat through Screentime. One popular method is to send a youtube link to iMessage and then watch the video inside the message. Guess there’s always a way out!
Customize Downtime by day of the week (for iOS 12.2 and above)
iOS 12.2 and above provides the new option to customize Downtime settings based on days of the week. This has been a feature that many users were patiently waiting for.
Using this feature, you can customize the downtime settings to start at a particular time for a given day. This allows flexibility to manage a schedule for school nights/ weekend nights for parents and will play an important role when Apple Arcade hits later this year!
- Tap on Settings > Screentime > Downtime
- Tap on the new ‘Customize Days‘ option
- Customize Downtime based on your preferences
So if, for example, you want Downtime to kick in at 10:00 pm on work nights but not until after midnight on the weekend, these options have been made easy to manage with the latest versions of iOS.
iOS 13 and iPadOS added Screen Time features
The message from parents is clear–they want Apple to put kids first when designing their products and services. That’s one reason Apple added a bunch of new things for Screen Time in iOS 13 and iPadOS!
Here’s a quick snapshot of these additional new features in iOS13 and iPadOS.
Combined app limits
Now you can combine limits for different combinations of app categories, specific apps, or websites.
Apple listened to parents who wanted longer windows into their kids’s device usage. With iOS 13 and iPadOS, parents and users can now see 30 days of usage and compare those averages to the previous week’s Screen Time numbers.
Just swipe right or left to see the graph of the last few weeks of screen time data.
Parents wanted a way to parents to choose who their kids can talk, text, FaceTime, and AirDrop with. And they wanted a way to control who can communicate with their kids both during daytime and downtime hours.
iOS13’s Communication Limits allows this and more!
Contact list for children
Similar to communication limits, parents wanted a way to restrict access to contacts. Apple’s answer is allowing parents to manage their children’s contacts via Screen Time.
Managing a child’s contacts allows the parent(s) to decide what contacts, phone numbers, and emails, etc. are trusted.
One more minute
Parents may love or hate this feature!
With One more minute, Screen Time no longer just shuts down apps immediately. Instead, when you or your child reaches the Screen Time limit, your device asks if you want one more minute.
It’s designed to allow you or your child time to save the work or log out of a game. But more likely, for most kids it’s just one more minute of screen time! And unfortunately, some kids quickly figured out they can keep clicking it over and over to get more time!
No Time? Check Out Our Video On How To Reset Screen Time’s Passcode
Contact Apple Support
If Screen Time is still not working, Contact Apple Support directly.
Screen Time is a great feature for parents and others who want to monitor how much time they and their children or other family members spend on apps, websites, and more. The feature has so many options to customize to what is best for you and your family. And given all those features, it seems bound to have some problems!
If you are continuing to have issues, feel free to let us know in the comments. We’ll be sure to answer questions that you may have or help with any problems you come across.
- I did the following: #1 updated all our family’s devices to the same iOS version, #2 toggled on Block at Downtime and #3 toggle on Block at End of Limit. It only worked when I did all 3 steps! Give it a try
- Somehow one of my kid turned off Share Across Devices on her iPhone. Going to Settings > Screen Time and toggling this (Share Across Devices) on worked for me! Just enter the screen time passcode at the prompt and about 10 minutes later, I saw all my kids’ information. Give it a try!
- Just an FYI, if your child presses the ‘ignore for today’ button when the screen limit message shows up, then Screen Time ignores that limit for the entire day
- I reset all of Downtime again and the apps I want blocked for my kids (Facebook and Instagram) are now blocked. BUT I seem to have to do this every few weeks!
- Before calling Apple Support, turn on approvals for every adult in your Family Sharing Plan. Once I did this, all my kids showed up in the Screen Time. Now, my wife and I can both manage our kids’ accounts using Screen Time from our iPhones, iPads, and iPods
- This suggestion is time-consuming but it worked for me. Try removing ALL of your child’s Screen Time’s Settings and then adding all the restrictions, downtime, and app limits you want back in
Andrew is a freelance writer based on the East Coast of the US.
He has written for a variety of sites over the years, including iMore, Android Central, Phandroid, and a few others. Now, he spends his days working for an HVAC company, while moonlighting as a freelance writer at night.