Apple's Better Screen Time Alternative

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Tech Lockdown Team
Updated April 1, 2024

In this post we will examine a better alternative to Screen Time that Apple provides. It's not as well-known, but Apple provides the ability to enable a supervised/managed mode on personal iOS devices that give you better control over restrictions and bypass prevention.

This unlocks powerful capabilities that go above what you can do with Screen Time

There are a few benefits to using these approaches:

  1. Harder to bypass and find loopholes. Instead of an easily recovered Screen Time pin, these methods enforce changes that cannot be overridden on the device itself.
  2. Remote management so that you don't always need physical access to the iPhone to make changes. For example, you could block an app without having to unlock the iPhone and make that change.
  3. Additional features not available through Screen Time, like app blocklists and Kiosk mode.

Better App Blocking

When an iPhone is supervised or managed , you get access to app blocklist and allowlists.

You can search from an app list to find the app you want to block:

Then, install this profile on your iOS device. Blocking an app this way will prevent it from being installed from the App Store and disable it if it is already installed on the device.

Restricting the App Store without Preventing App Updates

Here is a common scenario with screen time related to blocking an app on the iPhone .

Maybe you want to restrict usage of all web browsers other than Safari that you are ensured Screen Time Web Content Filter works properly.

Or you want to prevent a user from downloading apps for anonymous browsing, like VPNs and proxy apps.

In this case, you would use the Screen Time feature that prevents installing apps, which will  disable the iPhone app store .

The problem with this approach is that it also disables automatic app updates. This means that many of your installed apps will stop working entirely unless you unlock Screen Time, enabling installing apps, install the app updates, then disable installing apps again.

How many of us will remember to do this? And what if you are self-managing your own blocking system? 

A better approach would be to use device supervision/management  to disable the app store.

However, you would select Allow automatic app downloads. This means that new apps cannot be installed, but existing apps can be updated. This is a more ideal workaround for the screen time app updating issue.

Accessing the Most Restrictive State: Kiosk Mode

When you manage an iOS device, you get access to the most restrictive configuration possible: Kiosk mode.

Using Kiosk mode, you can selectively decide what a user can access, even system apps.

You can use this approach to turn your iPhone into a dumb phone without sacrificing the most useful features of the iPhone, like Maps, Camera, Photos, and iMessage.

How to Manage or Supervise iOS Devices

If you are interested in enabling the managed or supervised modes for your personal iOS devices, you can access step-by-step tutorials in your Tech Lockdown account dashboard.

We've found that device management techniques are essential for creating a blocking system that is harder to bypass, so we've invested considerable effort into helping people achieve these controlled states for their smartphones.

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