Time Limits desperately needed on iOS

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Date: Tuesday, February 10th, 2015, 07:52
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, Kids

TL;DR I’d like to see the Time Limits feature from OS X come to iOS Restrictions.

Time Limits in OS X Parental Controls

It’s hard to deny that the iPad is an unbridled success and that it changed how we use computers in our daily lives. For kids, this might be the understatement of the decade. The iPad is a kid’s dream, it can play games, movies, music and can be interacted with on many levels.

The iPad’s popularity with children is simultaneously its best and its worst feature. Ask any parent with young kids.

I have two kids (ages 7 and 4) and they received iPad minis for Christmas. While iPads are nothing short of magic to young kids, things can quickly turn ugly when young ones are told that “it’s time to put the iPads away.” My seven year old is definitely ready for an iPad but my four year old is borderline. An unfortunate reality of having multiple: what you buy for one you need to buy for the other.

It’s important to set limits on iPad use for young kids, so that they can do other things like homework and playing with other kids and we generally limit their use to one hour on weekdays and two hours on weekends. The problem is enforcing these time limits. While my seven year old generally complies, my four year old frequently breaks down in tears.

The solution is system-level time limits that shut off the iPad after a user-defined interval. Unfortunately, third-party iOS apps don’t have system level access (thanks to sandboxing), so the feature has to come from Apple.

Luckily, Time Limits are already available on OS X.

The Time Limits feature can be found in System Preferences > Parental Controls section of OS X and it is quite powerful. It allows you to set limits on the total hours the computer can be used on weekdays, weekends and allows setting a ‘bedtime’ on school nights and on weekends.

It’s literally perfect, it just needs to migrate to iOS.

OS X Time Limits are tied to the guest user account (a concept that doesn’t yet exist on iOS) so that could be a problem, but it should be possible for the feature to be enabled in iOS with a simple passcode override.

Apple could add Time Limits to iOS under Settings > General > Restrictions pretty easily and it would create a lot of harmony in my household. If implemented, Apple should send push notifications to parent’s devices with status updates and even offer the ability for junior to request additional time like they can request App Store purchases now.

For bonus points Apple could tie iOS Time Limits to a simple chore app that pops up. Kids could pick a chore to complete, ping the parent for confirmation, and unlock extra iPad time. This is an idea whose time has come and I suspect that it would sell more iPads to parents sitting on the fence too.

Aside: a good case is essential for kid’s iPads and ours are wrapped in Lifeproof nud cases ($49.99 on Amazon), which are exceptional.

What’s your take on Time Limits? Does your kid hand over their iPad voluntarily?

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