Today at Apple’s annual developer conference, Apple announced new parental control features for its operating system on iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches. This functionality is a huge improvement over many third-party parental control experiences for iOS. While these features aren’t available now, they are expected to be released to the public in the fall.
What led to this? Recently, several key investors in Apple sent an open letter urging Apple to take device addiction seriously. While all signs point to Apple working on this issue before this letter, I believe this publicity pushed this effort along.
Screen Time App
So what is Apple giving to parents today? One of the many new apps that is included with iOS 12 is an app called Screen Time. This application will allow parents to have detailed control over how their child uses the device. This includes app “allowances” so parents can specify how much time a child can spend within an app. Parents will be able to see a summary of time spent on the device and what apps were used. While kids are using a device, parents will also be able to receive notifications to give them an update on how it is being used.
Parental controls built into the operating system are always the best kind of controls. These are hard to circumvent, and they apply across all applications on the device. Because of this, iOS devices have a higher level of universal control for parents over other devices.
Help for Adults Too
Another key aspect of this functionality is how Apple will also give adults the capability to monitor their own usage. We recommend all parents take a device usage test to know how much they use their own device. Up to now, this usually involved using one of a few third party apps. However, Apple’s Screen Time app will allow these measurements to be more accurate, and iOS will allow users to set notifications if they go beyond your own allowances.
While this doesn’t tackle many of the challenges that parents will face like cyberbullying, explicit content, and online predators this does address one of our key issues: screen time and addiction. Apple also made a surprising announcement that all devices that support iOS 11 will also support iOS 12. If you are on iOS 11 now, you’ll be able to use these great new features in the fall.