Without discipline and limitations in place it’s possible for anyone, not just kids, to fall into the rabbit hole that is the online world. What was just supposed to be a quick social media check in can turn into hours wasted away scrolling aimlessly. Anyone with a social media presence can vouch for this. Social media apps are designed to grip your attention and keep it for as long as possible, so how can we effectively limit the time we spend online, and how do we model this behaviour for our kids?

Luckily, most of our devices now have built-in screen time features which help with setting screen time goals and time limits for selected apps. They also include “focus” modes which automatically disallow apps from being used, aside from the apps you select, during a set time period. Learning how to use these functions can be extremely helpful in limiting your screen time and that of your kids.

On an iPhone, ensure that your software has been updated to iOS 12 or later. Go to your phone settings and select “Screen Time”, then tap to turn it on and tap Continue. If you’re setting limitations for yourself, select “This is My iPhone”, or if you’re setting limitations for your child you can select “This is My Child’s iPhone”. From here, you’ll be able to see your screen time data and be able to set up limitations for specific apps. Once the allocated time has run out, the app will not be usable for the rest of the day. From these settings, you can also choose to set up “Screen Time for Family”, where you can create an account for your child directly from your phone. You’ll also be able to allocate another user as a parent or guardian so that you can both have access to your child’s screen time data and set limitations and “Downtime”. This is a very nifty feature that allows communication limits to be set for certain contacts and content and privacy restrictions to be used.

If you’re looking to set screen time limits on your android device, ensure that your device is updated to Android 10 or later. From your phone settings, scroll down and select “Digital Wellbeing and parental controls”. Here you will be able to see your screen time data and access the screen time features. You can set goals for your overall daily screen time. Your phone will tell you when you reach your goal and how long over the allocated time you have used your device. You can also select “App timers” to set time limits for selected apps, which will bring up a notification that the time limit has been reached and then disallow the app from being used for the rest of the day. There is an option to ignore the app limits on both Android and iOS devices, but you can still see all the screen time data from the screen time settings. To set up screen time limits for your child, select “Parental controls” and continue with your Google account. Here, you can remotely supervise your child’s phone with the Family Link app, keep an eye on their screen time and set limits as needed. You can also access content filters for Google Play, app approvals and restrictions to Google services.

As obvious as it sounds, reducing screen time before bed is as easy as removing the temptation entirely. Leave your phone outside of your bedroom when it’s time to retire for the evening, additionally, give your children an online curfew and remove their phones from their rooms once that time is reached. Be sure to put the phones in a safe and secure place that can be accessed quickly in the event of an emergency.

You may be content with the amount of time you spend online, but it’s a fact that more people are becoming concerned with the excessive amount of time they spend browsing. Taking a few simple measures can help drastically reduce the amount of time needlessly spent on your phone. Although we have access to very helpful tools, it should be noted that willpower and personal discipline still come into play.