What the Tech: Screen limits and private mode

One of the tools parents use to limit screen time doesn’t always work.
One of the tools parents use to limit screen time doesn't always work.
Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 11:28 AM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - These days almost every child has a smartphone. For many parents, a smartphone can give them peace of mind about where their kids are but also keep them up at night wondering what their child is doing on the phone.

Many parents use Screen Time on iPhones to limit how much time their kids can use certain apps. Say mom and dad give the okay to use Snapchat for an hour each day. When the time is up, the Snapchat app won’t open. You can set that up for any app in Screen Time, under app limits.

But let’s say mom and dad put a limit on TikTok, YouTube, or Instagram. Those apps can be accessed through their websites. Tiktok.com, Instagram.com etc. Parents can set limits for those websites. But here’s the thing a lot of parents might miss.

Screen time limits don’t count the time if their kid is using incognito or private mode. So anyone can visit any website in incognito mode for as long as they want, even if there are time limits set up in Screen Time.

If a parent is having trouble with their kids visiting certain websites, they can lock down the phone to allow them only to visit websites they approve.

Back in Screen time, tap content and privacy restrictions and set a passcode to allow changes. Then, select content restrictions where you can block explicit music, books, and age-appropriate apps.

To lock it down tighter, you can allow only certain websites to be accessed and add websites you approve. This setting will prevent visiting any other websites, even in incognito mode.

The other option many parents are choosing with younger children is a flip phone like this one from Nokia. These are relatively inexpensive and allow only phone calls and texting.

And if a child uses ‘incognito’ or ‘private mode,’ they can delete their browsing history which prevents anyone, even the parents on the same account, from seeing what websites they visited.

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