I used Apple’s new controls to limit a teenager’s iPhone time

I, for one, probably have a problem with compulsively picking up my phone. So when Apple announced new software to help people restrict the amount of time they spend on iPhones, I knew I had to test it on myself. I also wanted to try it on a “screenager”, a teenager who is addicted to screens – exactly the kind of person generating so much concern.

Just one problem: I don’t have a child, so I needed to borrow one. Fortunately, my editor gleefully volunteered her 14-year-old, Sophie, to be a test subject. So last month, I lent Sophie an iPhone X loaded with an unfinished version of iOS 12, Apple’s new operating system, that included the Screen Time feature, which is set for release this fall. We set up the account so that I was a parent, with the ability to set limits, and she was my child.

Modern technologies like smartphones and tablets really pose a new kind of problem for parents, and parents today are only just now finding out how to deal with these.

Since I happen to be remarkably aware of the harsh way parents tend to judge each other when it comes to how to raise children, I just want to point out that there really is no one true way to manage how children use these technologies, and on top of that, not every child is the same. And, of course, a child growing up in The Netherlands is not the same as that same hypothetical child growing up in Arco, Montana. In short, there’s tons of variables here, so for the parents among us – for with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged and all that.


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