New Alpha Released A new version of Tech Lockdown has entered early access.

How to Fix Screen Time App Limits not Working

techlockdown logo
Tech Lockdown Team
Updated April 1, 2024

There are a few problems that people inevitably run into when using Apple Screen Time app limits. For example, screen time app limits don't work properly or can be easily bypassed. Furthermore, some apps completely stop working when screen time is enabled.

Screen Time App Limits don't apply to the Mobile Website

One of the biggest annoyances with Screen Time App Limits is that they are easily bypassed by using Safari or another web browser.

For example, you could use the Facebook app, hit your App Limit, then simply switch over to Safari and go to The mobile browser experience is similar to the app downloaded from the app store. 

There are two ways you could improve your Screen Time configuration to solve for this:

  1. Add a time limit for Safari as well
  2. Use the Downtime feature to schedule downtime from everything

Another way to handle this would be to create a scheduled DNS Content Policy rule to restrict what days and times apps or websites can be used.

For example, you could go to the Content Policy editor in your Tech Lockdown account, create a Block rule, and select the Facebook or Facebook messenger apps.

Selecting an app to block would block both the app and website so you don't have to worry about bypass techniques with the browser.

Then, assign a schedule to that rule. My approach is to group several distracting apps and websites into a single scheduled rule that only allows access during my lunch break.

Get Powerful DNS Filtering
Get Powerful DNS Filtering
Create and enforce a Content Policy on all your devices.

Apps Eventually Stop Working when using Screen Time

A common, but less understood issue with Screen Time is that apps often stop working after a while.

This is probably related to the Screen Time feature that prevents installing apps, which will  disable the iPhone app store .

When the app store is disabled with screen time, apps stop updating. Apps need to be updated in order to continue working properly.

This workaround for this is as follows;

  1. Unlock screen time and allow installing apps
  2. Open the app store and run updates
  3. Go back to screen time and prevent installing apps, then lock screen time

If you want a better approach, consider using Apple's  device supervision/management  modes to disable the app store.

This way, you can disable installing new apps while also allowing app updates with the Allow automatic app downloads option. This is a more ideal workaround for the screen time app updating issue.

Manage iOS Devices at Home
Manage iOS Devices at Home
Become a member to access step-by-step guides.

Going Further with Bypass Prevention

When it comes to using built in iPhone parental controls like Screen Time, it's clear that there are many weaknesses that need to be accounted for. This is why I've found that a Blocking System that considers multiple factors is a better approach.

Here's what I mean by that:

  1. Screen Time is fairly easy to bypass, especially if you are self-managing. 
  2. When dealing with addicting aspects of the internet, like endless scrolling social media feeds, some people are highly motivated to get around Screen Time to access the addictive content. This creates challenges for any blocking system.

Apple provides a better alternative to Screen Time  with device management. This approach is powerful, but can be confusing to set up by yourself. We've made step-by-step device management guides available to Tech Lockdown members.