Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Losing Screen Time Settings

Craig Grannell:

Needed to turn off Screen Time temporarily. Apple: “bollocks to you, then”. Infers the set-up is wiped and has me start from scratch. I go through the set-up, and it merges the new one with what was already there. But the block set-ups have been randomly wiped.


It’s astonishing that this is the way things work. Because you cannot sign out a child’s device from iCloud without first disabling Screen Time. Which means when you sign that device back in, Screen Time is off and you have to set it up again.

That’s mad. It also suggests sufficiently senior people at Apple don’t have kids, don’t look after their kids, or don’t care about how much screen time their kids have on Apple devices.

And, kids aside, it’s sometimes necessary to sign out of iCloud for troubleshooting purposes. This should not discard any data.

My understanding is that the Mac version of Screen Time still counts time for apps that are in the background. I guess that makes sense in that otherwise it would be trivial to work around the limits for certain apps. But it makes the reports not very informative. Were you spending hours texting? Or did you leave a Messages window open because interacting with Messages notifications doesn’t work very well and you don’t want to keep quitting and relaunching the app?


Update (2024-05-01): Kaveh:

Screen Time, and especially the use case of Screen Time with your kids, is woefully inadequate and buggy to boot. So much light needs to be shined on this spot because I’m convinced that Apple doesn’t care enough to fix it.

Simple use case: block an app with a time limit of 0 minutes (so you can unlock it for kid later). Most Apple reps intuitively tell me you can and proceed to try to show me how to do it, only to remove their own foot from their mouth in about 10 minutes.

Table-stakes type parental controls just aren’t well thought out nor are they robust.

Jesse Squires:

this happened to me when upgrading to a new iPhone. I did the direct device-to-device transfer. For some reason ScreenTime settings were lost.

It took me weeks to notice, and then I learned that app time limits really do help me limit my time.

Update (2024-05-03): Cory Birdsong:

it’s also incredible that Screen Time just straight up doesn’t exist on tvOS.

Craig Grannell:

Too often, the result is a stalemate, with me wanting my kid to stop on the iPad nicely (or risk not having it the next day), and her figuring out the absolute limit of what she can get away with. (For the record: she is a fantastic kid and very well behaved on the whole, but she is also a kid. Any parent reading will know exactly what I mean.) And there have been times when I’ve just had to yank the iPad away.

A lot of this could be resolved with a remote off switch that can be activated immediately, when a line is crossed. Ideally, this would be presented in Screen Time as a massive red button. The Nintendo Switch has this (well, the remote off switch – not the red button), but Apple has determined one is not needed. It really is.

Update (2024-05-07): Josh Hrach:

Screen Time is terrible. I have it enabled to keep my kids safe. But it also ignores the actual settings, especially to allow my son to play multiplayer games. So he can’t even play games with our family because the content restrictions are broken. Been dealing with this for 3 years (with multiple radars filed and hours spent talking to senior advisors).

2 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

It really is a headache on wheels how much is routed through iCloud and the claustrophobic System Settings app.

Screentime's issues are a result of Apple's privacy-centric mentality. It's good for adults, bad for parents. Apple needs to understand that yes parents can do bad things, but we are parents - legally and culturally. Parents need to have absolute control over their kids devices legally, and encourage kids and adults to talk about privacy and enable it bit by bit as they get older. My 17 year olds had the utmost privacy because I trusted them. But they still gave me their phones if I asked because they trusted me. Apple needs to give that sort of capability.

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