“Winter Wonderland” may be a great song to listen to when the snow flies, but if you’re sweltering in the summer heat, having it pop up while iTunes is shuffling through your music feels wrong. Happily, there’s a way to prevent holiday music from playing out of season—this trick is also useful for keeping children’s songs from shuffling alongside tracks from Abba, Beethoven, and The Clash. In iTunes, select the songs you want to prevent from being included when you shuffle all tracks, and choose Edit > Get Info. In the Get Info dialog, switch to the Options pane, select Skip When Shuffling, and click OK to save your changes. Note that the easiest way to find such music may be by selecting Genres in the sidebar and then Children’s Music or Holiday in the list that appears.
An ever-increasing number of people have hearing loss due to exposure to loud noise and age. If you’re in that group, but don’t yet need hearing aids, try using your AirPods to help you hear better in certain situations. iOS’s Live Listen feature uses your iPhone’s mic to pick up specific sounds and then sends that audio directly to your AirPods, helping you focus on what you want to hear. To enable Live Listen, go to Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls and tap the green + button next to Hearing. Then put your AirPods in, open Control Center, tap the Hearing button, and tap to turn on Live Listen. Fine-tune what you’re hearing by moving the iPhone closer to what you want to hear and pointing the mic at the source of the sound—pay attention to the sound level meter dots—and by adjusting the iPhone’s volume controls. To stop listening, tap Live Listen again or just remove your AirPods.
Do you sometimes find it difficult to read articles on your iPhone because of ads, banners, extraneous layout, social media icons, and too-small fonts? We certainly do, and there’s often a quick fix for the myriad ills of modern Web pages: Safari Reader. Whenever you see the Safari Reader icon to the left of the site’s domain name in the address bar, tap it to switch to a cleaner view that dispenses with all the unnecessary trimmings and presents the content in a larger, more readable font. Tap the font icon at the right side of the address bar in Safari Reader to change the font, font size, and background color. Safari Reader isn’t always available, and it can occasionally fail to format an article properly, but it’s a big win when you can use it.
Touch ID lets users register up to five fingers that can unlock an iPhone, which has long been a boon for those who share access to their iPhone with trusted family members. However, users of the iPhone X haven’t been able to give a second person Face ID-based access, forcing those people to wait for Face ID to fail and then tap in a passcode manually. iOS 12 lifts that limitation, allowing a second person to register their face with Face ID on the iPhone X and the new iPhone XR, XS, and XS Max. To set this up, go to Settings > Face ID & Passcode. Enter your passcode and tap Set Up an Alternate Appearance. Then give your iPhone to the person who should have access and have them follow the simple setup directions.
It’s a constant refrain in many homes—a kid clamoring to use an iPad or iPhone to play games, watch videos, or chat with friends. As a parent, you know too much screen time is bad, especially when it affects homework or family dinners. At the same time, an iOS device may be essential for communication and schoolwork.
In iOS 12, Apple introduced Screen Time, which shows how much time you spend on your own device, and helps you control your usage—see our recent article for details. But Screen Time also has parental controls. They’re best managed with Family Sharing from your own iOS device, so if you haven’t already done so, tap Settings > YourName > Set Up Family Sharing and follow the instructions. (You can also set up Screen Time directly on the child’s device—tap Use Screen Time Passcode to set a passcode that prevents the child from overriding limits.)
With Family Sharing set up, go to Settings > Screen Time and notice your children’s names in the new Family section. Tap a child’s name to set Screen Time limitations and restrictions on their iOS devices. Initially, Screen Time walks you through an assistant that explains the main features and helps you set some basic limitations. It also prompts you to create a four-digit parent passcode, which you’ll need to adjust settings in the future or override time limits.
Subsequently, when you tap your child’s name, you’ll see Screen Time’s standard sections for Downtime, App Limits, Always Allowed, and Content & Privacy Restrictions. For a full explanation of the first three, see our previous article; we’ll focus on what’s different for children and on Content & Privacy Restrictions here.
Downtime is useful for blocking all device usage during a time when your child should be sleeping, doing homework, or just not using the screen. You can set only one time period, so if you want to control usage on a more complex schedule, you’ll need to do that in another way.
For a child, the Downtime screen has a Block at Downtime option that you must enable to actually block access to the device during the scheduled time. If it’s off, and the child tries to use the device during that time, they’ll be able to tap Ignore Limit just like an adult can. That might be appropriate for a teenager who may need to check email late at night to find details for tomorrow’s sports practice. With Block at Downtime on, however, the only override is with the parent passcode.
As our previous article noted, App Limits specify how long a category of apps—or a specific app—may be used each day, with the time resetting at midnight. For children, you might want to try restricting nothing for a week, and see what apps they’re using and for how long. Then have “the talk” about appropriate use of digital devices and agree on limits.
You can tap Customize Days to allow more time on weekends, for instance, and you can exempt an app from all limitations in the Always Allowed screen.
Once your child hits an app limit, Screen Time will block them from using the app, with the only override being your parent passcode.
Content & Privacy Restrictions
Here’s where you’ll find all the previous parental controls, which let you turn on a wide variety of restrictions. To get started, enable the Content & Privacy Restrictions switch. There are three basic sections here:
- Store and Content Restrictions: Use these to control app downloading and deletion, what sort of content can be downloaded from Apple’s online stores, whether or not Web content should be filtered, and more.
- Privacy Restrictions: The entries here depend on what apps are installed, but the main question is if you want to allow location sharing.
- Allow Changes: These items relate to settings on the iOS device itself. You might want to disallow passcode and account changes, and volume limit changes, if you’ve set a maximum volume in Settings > Music > Volume Limit.
At the top of its main screen for the child, Screen Time reports on usage for both the current day and the last 7 days, showing a graph of screen time by hour or day, with color coding to indicate which app categories were in use. Review this report regularly to see if you need to adjust the Downtime or App Limit settings. Your child can also check the same report directly on their device in Settings > Screen Time.
Screen Time’s controls are good but not perfect. Enterprising kids have discovered workarounds such as changing the device’s time setting and deleting and redownloading apps. So don’t see Screen Time as a guaranteed technological solution—it’s just another tool in your parenting toolkit.