Note: if you’re running iOS 13 or 14, you’ll want to visit our always-updated, comprehensive iOS Parental Control Guide here.
iOS 13 is Released!
On September 19, 2019, iOS 13 released to the public. As usual, a number of things changed (you can read a complete list here), but we wanted to focus in on three changes that impact parents and kids the most:
- Photo Privacy.
- Screen Time.
- Apple Watch.
Maybe you’ve already implemented Screen Time when it came out with iOS 12. Now might be a good time to refresh those settings if you haven’t checked them in a while! Screen shots 18-20 are new, and don’t miss the list of websites you need to block in Screen shot 33, even if “Limit Adult Websites” is enabled.
iOS 13 Made Changes to Photo Privacy
If you have not turned off location services for the camera, then you are attaching location-related metadata to every photo. Anyone with a free app can pinpoint exactly where the photo was taken.
First, we recommend removing location data from all photos but if you keep location turned on, then you might want to remove location for individual photos as you share them. Here are the new screens in iOS 13:
Screen shot 1 – If you share a photo from the Share Sheet in the lower left, Screen shot 2– You now have the tag “Location Included – Options >” and if you click on it, then Screen shot 3– You can now toggle off Location, photo-by-photo.
Again, we suggest that parents turn off location for all photos at the Camera App level. How to turn off location sharing on all photos on iPhone:
- Settings App
- Click “Privacy”
- Click “Location Services”
- Click the Camera icon
- Then select “Never” for when location is shared.
iOS 13 Made Changes to Screen Time Parental Controls
Here is the entire process for setting up Screen Time from the start, with the new iOS 13 sections called out.
Screen Time Step 1 – Establish Family Sharing
*Note: if your child is already part of your Family Sharing, then skip down to (11) below.
Getting the most out of Screen Time starts with understanding Apple’s Family Sharing feature. On a parent phone, you’ll want to establish a parent as the “Organizer,” for the family, who functions as the Administrator.
Screen shot 1 – Select “Settings.” Screen shot 2 – Click on your Apple ID on the top. Screen shot 3 – Click “Family Sharing” and then follow the steps in screen shots 4-6 below.
Screen shots 7 – 9 – **IMPORTANT** Apple pays very close attention to the birthday attached to your child’s Apple ID, so make sure it’s correct.
Example: if you attempt to add someone as a “child” in Family Sharing, but you set the birthday to 20, Apple will classify them as an adult. You cannot exert any of the iOS 13 Screen Time controls over anyone who is >=18 according to the birthday on their Apple ID.
Screen Time Step 2 – Set-up Screen Time Features
Click back into Settings and then Screen Time (Screen shot 10). You should see the child you just added (Screen shot 11) and then you’ll want to enable Screen Time for that child (Screen shot 12).
Now, it’s time to set each of the 5 Screen Time areas, starting with Downtime (Screen shot 13).
A fairly recent update now allows users to customize Allowed Screen Time for each day (Screen shot 14). Once you’re happy with Downtime settings, it’s time to consider App Limits (Screen shot 15).
**Special Note – I had one parent ask us this, “In Our Pact, I can just shut down my kid’s apps, which I love. Can I do that in Screen Time?”
The answer is, “YES!” Once you’ve linked your child’s iOS device to yours, you can go into their Downtime settings and if you set the start time for something before “now,” then, Downtime will be enabled and their apps will shut down immediately. It’s a bit of a hack, but until Apple provides an Our Pact like “panic” button, it seems to be the only way.
App Limits (Screen shot 15) is an allowance feature. You can allow for a certain amount of time to be spent on categories of apps during a day (17-18) or on individual apps within a category. FYI – iMessage is categorized under “Social Networking.”
NOTE – if you don’t toggle off the ability to ignore App Limits, your kid will be able to just keep adding time. Read more in our iOS 13 Hacks blog post, specifically, #5
Communication Limits (Screen shot 18) is a new feature in iOS 13 likely aimed at curbing strangers (tricky people) from contacting kids. Screen shots 20-21 below show parents the types of controls available to them.
Screen shots 21-22 are step 4 in the Screen Time features, where you can decide what Apps are always displayed, even during Downtimes. Content & Privacy Restrictions in Screen shot 23 below is one of the more important sections, and is the last of the 5 Screen Time steps.
In screen shot 25, toggle on Restrictions and start at the top, where you determine what kind of behavior you want from the App Store and adding/deleting apps. The red note on screen shot 26 is important. Don’t miss it.
Screen shot 27 gives you the ability to permanently toggle off certain apps. The most popular apps that parents typically toggle off are Safari and AirDrop.
If you’re using a filtered browser like Mobicip or Covenant Eyes, then toggling off Safari makes sense so that kids can’t circumvent your controls. AirDrop has been the subject of our blog posts where kids and adult send unsolicited porn and cruel content to each other when AirDrop is enabled – read more in My Kid Received Unsolicited Porn – What is Cyberflashing?
After toggling off Safari and AirDrop, click “Back” in the upper left and click “Content Restrictions,” as shown in screen shot 29. For many parents, this section is of great interest.
On Screen shot 30, first, you’ll notice the list at the top where you can control ratings for Music, Podcasts, Movies, Apps, and others. Make whatever selections you think work for your kid. Then, click “Web Content.”
Then click “Limit Adult Websites” as in screen shot 31 and then in screen shot 32, we provide the following list of websites that should be added to the “Never Allow” list because these sites aren’t filtered by Screen Time (for some reason).
- Gibiru.com (private search engine)
- Ecosia.com (search engine)
- Yandex.com (Russian search engine)
- Dogpile.com (easy to toggle off safe search even with Screen Time enabled)
- Flickr (lots of inappropriate content)
- Excite.com (old search engine, can toggle off safe search even with Screen Time enabled)
- Twitter.com (so much porn on Twitter)
- https://www.youtube.com (if you want to completely limit YouTube access, even if someone sends a video link in an iMessage – text). You have to type it in exactly how it is here.
With “Limit Adult Websites” enabled, you cannot delete Safari’s search history. So, parents can inspect the types of websites and searches kids are attempting by clicking the Safari app -> then the Book icon in the bottom menu of Safari -> then the clock option at the top, right. You’ll notice the little “Clear” option in the lower right is greyed out, since “Limit Adult Websites” is enabled.
NOTE: If you want to toggle off Safari altogether, a super-safe, porn-blocking, free browser you might consider is the SPIN browser from Boomerang.
If you decide to keep Safari and you follow the steps above, you’ll be able to fully control the Screen Time settings for your child’s device from your device. Just click the Settings app and then Screen Time on your device, scroll down to see your child’s name and click.
Frequently asked questions about iOS 13 and Apple Screen Time:
What if I have an Android phone and my kid has an iPhone. Can I still use Screen Time?
Yes! Start at Screen shot 10 above ON YOUR KID’s iPHONE. Click “Use Screen Time Passcode,” create a 4-digit passcode on his device (that he/she doesn’t know), and then set things up starting on Screen shot 13 however you would like.
Our family shares an Apple ID. How does that impact Screen Time?
This just means that certain rules will impact all devices using the same Apple ID. For example, if you set a Downtime rule for shutting off certain apps from 10pm – 7am, this (according to Apple), “will apply to all devices that are using iCloud for screen time.” One consideration – with the arrival of Screen Time, which gives parents greater control over their child’s device(s), it might be a good time to allow your child to have his/her own Apple ID as a way to see how they do with some additional responsibility.
Do I need to upgrade both my device and my child’s device to use Screen Time?
Yes, both the parent and the child device need to be upgraded to iOS 13 in order for the Screen Time controls to work on the child’s device.
What happens if I forget my 4-digit Restrictions code?
Unfortunately, there is no easy recovery without a factory reset, which will delete all data, including contacts, photos, music, and messages. This is not a decision to be made lightly! Some people have commented that it’s possible to restore an iPhone through iTunes, which is true. But, the restoration will also restore whatever Restrictions were enabled on the iTunes backup.
Can’t my son or daughter simply perform the factory reset and circumvent the 4-digit code?
Technically, yes, this is possible. But, it will mean erasing all data. If you have a high-risk child who might be devious enough to perform a factory reset, then make sure you set the Apple ID for the phone when the phone is first set up (or follow these steps to change the Apple ID for an iPhone). For iOS 7 and beyond, the Apple ID that was in place prior to the reset/reboot is required in order to initiate the device after the reset/reboot. This was put in place to deter thefts of the devices.
But, now with iOS 13 and the weekly activity reports and being able to see the amount of time that a phone is being used, as soon as an Apple ID’s time plummets, that’s a flag that maybe something has been changed.
How Does iOS 13 Work with Popular Parental Controls?
Bark + iOS 13 Screen Time = solid monitoring of many popular social platforms, iMessage, and everything from iOS 13.
Covenant Eyes + iOS 13 Screen Time = amazing content filtering through their browsing app, Accountability Reports sent to parents, a lock on YouTube Restricted Mode in the YouTube app, and the app control explained above.
Mobicip + iOS 13 Screen Time = amazing content filtering through their browsing app, and the app control explained above. Quite a bit of the value these services used to provide parents with app control can now be handled through iOS Screen Time.
If you can afford Bark ($9.99/month or $99 annual) + Covenant Eyes ($15.99/month or $183 annual) + iOS 13 = an amazing triple layer of protection.
iOS 13 Finally Provides Better Apple Watch Parental Controls
Based on limited testing, it seems that whatever Content Restrictions you have set on your iPhone will now be enforced on the Apple Watch. **This is new with iOS 13! We still have more testing to do here, so we’re anxious for any feedback from families out there who have a different experience. Here’s a screen shot from an Apple Watch, connected to an iPhone that had selected “Allowed Websites Only” per screen shot 31 above, where Google.com wasn’t on the “Allowed List” and this was the result from clicking the link in a text message received on the watch. We appreciate the guidance from a PYE friend who shared this iOS 13 tip about Apple Watches with us!
As with all things that are new, there’s bound to be little things that we didn’t get right, so please let us know!
P.S. We’ve identified 12 Screen Time hacks that parents have reported from their kids and solutions! Don’t miss this next post:
I love life. Seriously! Each. Day. A. Gift. Former CPA, business advisor, youth pastor, development director. Manage marketing efforts for Covenant Eyes and CEO of PYE. God shares wild ideas with me about life while I run. I have a relentless drive to help families use technology well.