4 Ways to Get Your Kids Off Their iPhones This Summer

A group of smiling children running and skipping on a hiking trail

It's Summer and kids all over are out of school for the long break and, if they've got nothing else better to do, probably are transfixed by their iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. New and ongoing studies from the National Institutes of Health have shown that more than two hours of screen time per day can have a negative effect on children's thinking and language test results. So, what is a parent to do in order to stave off this addictive and unhealthy habit during the summer months? And how can parents get more involved with their kids' screen time? Here are four tips for keeping your kids off their iPhones this summer.

Related: Parental Controls: How to Block Websites & Apps, Limit Screen Time on the iPhone & iPad

1. Set Up Screen Time

First and foremost, parents need look no further than to Apple, which has addressed the issue with its Screen Time features that let parents know and feel good about what their children are doing which helps them choose how, and how often, their kids can use their devices.  And, the company is continually designing new features to help make sure children use their devices in the way parents want them to. 

Beginning with iOS 12, the feature allows parents to access real time reports about how much time they and their children spend on their iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch and to set limits for things such as apps, websites, etc., allowing adults and kids to make more informed decisions about how they use their iOS devices in order to limit their time in front of those screens.

If you haven't done so already, to activate Screen Time on your iPhone or iPad, simply go to Screen Time in the Settings app, then toggle the feature on, tap Continue, and select either This is my device or This is my child's device. From there you can manage Screen Time settings like Down Time (only certain apps and phone calls you allow will be available), App Limits (set daily app limits, e.g., access only productivity apps while you're at work but no social networking or games), Always Allow (override any limits you've set in other settings), and Content & Privacy Restrictions (block inappropriate content, downloads, and purchases).

For a parent configuring a child's device, you can set a passcode — separate from the iPhone passcode — to secure settings you've put in place so that only you will be able to make changes. (Note that by default, the Phone, Messages, FaceTime, and Maps apps are always allowed but you can restrict those too within the Screen Time settings).

2. Get Kids to Earn Time on Their iPhone

Another option for parents to consider is the Goya-Move Parental Control app ($1.99/month), which takes parental control a step further. The GOYA-Move app sets itself apart from other similar apps by rewarding kids with earned time in front of their screen without ever having to physically take the phone or device away from them (or making them feel punished).

Launched in the Summer of 2018, the GOYA-Move app (the acronym stands for "get off your apps") is a digital health and well-being app that teaches kids about screen usage moderation and accountability.  The app achieves this through parental controls that allow parents to set step goals and assign chores (the latter a new feature coming soon in an app update), which encourages children to get active and live a more healthy lifestyle. Once step goals and/or chores are completed, the rewards-based app lets children gain access to specific apps on their device that have been locked (e.g. games, music, social media, or the web browser).  For safety reasons, the app does not block access to messaging or the phone so parents still can communicate with their children and vice versa (and is especially useful in emergency situations).

3. Visit the Library

Then there's the non-digital way to get kids off their screens. Rather than physically taking their iPhone or iPad away, parents can sign their kids up at their local library for free summer activities and programs, sign the up for swim lessons and get them a pool pass, or help their older children find age appropriate summer jobs.

4. Model Healthy Screen Usage

Of course, parents themselves aren't immune to the effects of screen usage and they can be an example for their children by downloading and using an app like SPACE - Break Phone Addiction (free). SPACE is a rewards-based app for adults that is similar to GOYA-Move and aims to help you find your phone-life balance and break addiction by setting goals and letting you be more aware of your time spent in front of your screen.  Upon installing the app, you'll be prompted to answer a few questions about your smartphone usage.  Afterwards, you'll then choose a user profile that best describes you.  The app will then set goals for screen unlocking and hourly usage, send notifications whenever time spent in front of a screen increases, and issue rewards like achievement badges when daily goals are met.  What better way to role model screen usage moderation and accountability by setting the example and holding yourself accountable at the same time you are trying to teach your kids responsible use of their own devices?

It is very important that parents work with their children in helping to stave off such an addictive and unhealthy habit in this modern day in age created by our digital devices.  With some of the tips and suggestions that have been offered in this article, hopefully you'll reverse the growing trend for your entire family not only during these summer months, but also all year round.

Top image credit: Brocreative / Shutterstock.com

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Author Details

Joe Leo's picture

Author Details

Joe Leo

Joe Leo has been writing about Apple and technology since 2006. As a contributor to iPhone Life, he primarily writes content geared toward the visually impaired iPhone user (being totally blind himself after losing his eyesight in July 2013 from health complications). He also writes for the website MacPrices and has previously written for the site Low End Mac.