Using ScreenTime: limit messages to friends, but no limit to message parents

Took a while but I finally have ScreenTime working well to regulate my child’s usage. One thing I would like to do that I can’t figure out:

  1. Allow her to text my wife or me any time, no limits;
  2. Message her friends with an app limit of four hours a day, but only during DownTime.

Item 1 means I have to set Messages to be an Always Allowed app. And that means I can’t limit her talking to friends the way I do now, by setting App Limits to 4 hours a day.

Is there a way?

1 Like

Use the Communication Limits section, During Downtime > Specific Contacts

To do something similar all the time, same section, During Screen Time > Contacts Only, then you have to manage his/her contacts using the Manage 's Contacts switch

Thank you. That’s part of the solution but it means she can text her friends all day. I want to limit use of Messages to four hours using App Limits but still allow her to reach specified contacts.

I wonder if there is another text app that I can set to Always Allow.

I might need to set Messages for four hours and if she needs to contact us, she uses phone, or the One More Minute feature.

I think apple makes the screen time settings very hard for parents. (We have opposing goals for children. Duh.) We have struggled with their settings since we started using them two years ago.

The part of your question that confuses me is allowing the texting during Downtime. So they can text as much as they want during Allowed Time but only four hours during Downtime? I hope someone here can answer your question. I’ve had similar and gotten minimal help from their support.

If the iPad weren’t required for most of the schoolwork we’d be happy to go without the devices in light of how bad recent studies show social media is for teens’ mental health, especially girls.

LOL. So true. Took me a couple of months to understand it. My daughter and her friends, on the other hand, had it figured out pretty immediately.

Pro tip: Key for me was having her understand that her digital privileges are a function of how responsible she is, and that surreptitious digital access would have consequences. This has all helped us teach her to have integrity.

Not sure I understand; the terminalogy in ScreenTime is counter-intuitive. Until last week, I had App Limits set to 4 hours a day so she could do whatever she wanted for 4 hours, including chat with anyone on her Contacts List. But I want her to be able to text me or Mom any time (including during Downtime). But once App Limit is hit, she can’t. So I made Messages Always Allowed; but then could text her friends all day.

May have found an answer. There are some apps for kids that allow messaging and they have more controls, or maybe set those up so she can reach only us using those apps and set those as Always Allowed.

I haven’t tried it myself, but does it makes a difference, if you and your wife are stored as “Favorites” on your daughters iPhone?

I think this is the best solution — it’s straightforward, the App Limits reflect your intentions, and it allows you to have a dialog with your kid about using devices.

If she asks for one more minute in Messages but doesn’t text you, then that’s a discussion you need to have with her. That allows her to build the confidence to make her own decisions to follow the rules that you have set up and to have a discussion about why you’ve set those rules. Seems to me that this is more important that finding the perfect app/settings to make this to happen via technology. Plus, getting your kid plus all of her friends to switch to a different app might be impossible!

Anyhow, that’s how I expect my parents would have handled it. They would want to emphasize safety (I can reach them any time) and learning responsibility and self-regulation. All good skills to have in this interconnected world!

But, of course, you know your kid best, and I’m sure you’ll find the best solution for her.

Well said. In the end, this is less about restrictions and more about teaching responsibility (which, thankfully, is something she loves).

I need to run some tests to see whether she can always reach us.

And by the way, learning how ScreenTime works has another benefit: I use it on my own phone to help me adjust some of my own excesses.