Ideas for Parents

Use Screen Time with your family

If you’re already have Family Sharing setup, go to your Apple ID in settings then click on Family Sharing. Under Shared Features, tap Screen Time to start the setup assistant. After completing the setup, you will be able to view reports and adjust settings for your students device from your device.

If you are unfamiliar with Family Sharing, you can learn more here as well as find the instructions for setting up Family Sharing.

To use Screen Time with Family Sharing, you need to be the family organizer or parent/guardian in your family group, on iOS 12. Your child must be under age 18, in your family group with their own Apple ID, and on iOS 12.

Screen Time as Conversation Starter


Shared expectations about device usage and online activity is essential to the healthy development of our students. PDS’s Digital Citizenship Compass is our starting point for shared language and expectations. Screen time can be a wonderful starting spot for creating your family’s shared expectations as well as a tool for checking in on how well we are meeting the expectations.

It is worth noting that experts like Anya Kamenetz, author of The Art of Screen Time, promotes the idea that parents and student need to play together, watch together, and discuss their use of digital devices together. Students need to be involved in the creation and maintenance of shared expectations.  The younger the student the more say adults should have in those expectations. As students mature (not necessary get older) and demonstrate that they can meet expectations, it is strongly encouraged that we modify and adapt the shared expectations.

Below are several scenarios where we can create the opportunity to develop our shared expectations.

  • Invite your student to sit with you and review the setting choices in screen time. Ask them to consider what they think makes sense and why.
    • Which apps need limits? Why?
    • How much time is enough.. for games… for social media?
    • When should we start down time?
    • Which apps should we set to always allow? Why?
  • When setting app limits, have your student reflect on the reasons why they like to use certain apps and what they hope to get from the app.
    • For example, we often hear from students that feel they need time to decompress or relax. Often they prefer to play a game during this down time, but there can be a startling paradox. Certain types of games can leave us agitated, anxious, and stressed. If we fail to exterminate the Zombie horde, are we mad, frustrated, or stuck needing to try again?  Having students explore how they feel after they use certain apps can help them better determine which apps support their goals.
    • Is all creation good? Often creation apps get a thumbs up because we can caught in the myth that creation is always better than consumption. Invite students to share examples of what they create, what they consume, and how it impacts them.
  • Create a list of the apps on our devices. Rate or rank them.
    • Which ones can we live without?
    • Which ones are essential? Why?
    • Which ones have we stopped using? Why?
    • Predict which apps we will use the most this week.  Try having both parents and students make predictions for themselves and each other. At the end of the week, check your screen time reports and explore who was more accurate.
  • Review our daily schedules. Both parent and student should map out their schedules. Compare and contrast how we spend our time.
    • How much time do we need for:
      • homework or work at home?
      • down time?
      • chores?
      • doing things together?
      • other?
    • What does last week’s schedule look like?
    • What would I like next week’s schedule to look like?
    • How does my devices impact my schedule?
  • Weekly status checks are essential. Use the reports in screen time to reflect on our successes and possible failures.
    • Do we need to change any settings?
    • Which apps limits need to be lowered? raised? why?
    • Is down time working for you? why or why not?
    • Has downtime changed the way you use your devices?
    • Has downtime changed they way you get homework done?
    • Reflect on sleep, overall emotional state, and general well being. Was this a good week or bad week? What role did my devices play in how my week went?

Providence Day School is committed to the success and well being of our students. Please reach out to let us know if you need any assistance with screen time settings or if you would like to discuss how we can help our students succeed in a digital world.

Contact: Matt Scully, Director of Digital Integration & Innovation, or 704-887-7035