My kids tend to be on their phones in the evenings a lot. They claim they need their phones to do homework and until recently, I really didn’t have a way of checking if this was true. I figured they were probably wasting a portion of their time on non-homework related phone things, but there was no way for me to know.
After a lot of peer pressure from my kids, I switched from an Android to an iPhone and set up a family plan. With the iPhone family plan, I can set app limits, check screen time and even turn off individual apps at a specific time every day. All of these tools are available on any iPhone, for free, and without downloading any special app.
If you are a tech savvy parent, you probably already know how to do this. Bravo! You can skip the rest of this post and gloat in your tech knowledge. Maybe go have a bowl of ice-cream and tell your kids how cool you are.
If you are more like me and unfamiliar with the tools available to parents and family members on iPhones, then read on.
- Have your kids sit next to you with their iPhones to set up family sharing. If your kids are too busy, or you want to do this on your own, you will need to log into their phone.
- Open up the settings tab and log into your Apple account.
- Click on the family sharing tab and add family members.
For detailed instructions, you can click here.
Next, you will need to set up screen time. Once your kids are on your family plan, you do not need their phones to set up screen time.
- Open up your settings tab.
- Click on screen time.
- Scroll down to select family members (you can also set up screen time for yourself, if you are trying to limit your personal usage).
- You will need to select a pin number to access screen time. Make sure it is one your kids don’t already know, or can guess.
- Select a set downtime to turn off all apps (or select apps). You can even customize this for each day (I allow my kids more time on the weekends).
- You can also set limits on specific apps (ie. YouTube, Mario Kart, Clash Royale, Instagram, Snapchat…).
- My favorite thing to check is See All Activity. With this tab, I can see exactly how much time was spent on each app by day or week. It helps me to know what apps I should limit and where my kids spend their time.
Here is the link with specific instructions.
My other favorite feature is called Find My. You can use it to find your phone (from another iPhone) or to find your family members on your family sharing account.
- You and your kids need to go to settings and open your Apple ID (the top tab with your profile picture).
- Click on Find My
- Turn on the Share My Location tab
- Tap on each family member you have listed (that you previously added to your family sharing) to share your location with that person. Your kids will have to do this in order to share their location with you.
- Select Share Indefinitely… and voula, now you can see where your kids are and they can see where you are. No more texting and calling to see when your kids will be home (this works both ways, now my kids can see when I’m grocery shopping or just wandering around Target).
- You can also set up your phone to notify you when your child (or husband, if you have him on your account) leaves school, a friend’s house, work, etc. by clicking on the Find My app and the family members name.
Here are more detailed instructions to set up location share.
Now, if you are a family of Droid users or mixed Droid and Apple users, you can still set up location sharing on Google Maps.
Location Share with Google Maps
- You both need to have Google Maps downloaded on your phones’ (which requires a Google account, but you should have one if you use Gmail)
- Click on the menu side bar and then click Location Sharing
- You can add people and choose to share for one hour or until you turn it off.
- Google will email you quarterly to ask you if you still want to keep sharing your location with the individuals you have on your location share.
The best part of Google Maps location sharing, is every time I use the map for directions, I see a small icon of each one of my kids’ faces and where they are located. It makes my mom heart happy to know where my kids are at all times.
Here is the Google Maps location sharing directions.
P.S. Don’t let your kids know I told you about screen time.