Apple Screen Time Not Working? Try These 19 Easy Fixes

Apple Screen Time might not work due to configuration issues of the Screen Time module or problems caused by outdated/corrupt OS of the devices. The configuration issues range from the low power mode of the devices to the Always Allowed list of Screen Time. This issue is reported on Screen Time supported devices like iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, Macs, etc.

The problem occurs when the Screen Time does not apply the downtime (or block) rules to children’s devices or fails to report the status of the these devices. In some instances, the issue is only limited to some particular apps like TikTok or particular websites like YouTube. 

Apple Screen Time not Working

Screen Time might not work due to many factors but the following are the most common ones:

  • Outdated OS of the Device or Outdated App: If the OS of the device (like an iPhone) or the app (like Chrome) is outdated, then one’s incompatibility with the other may not let the Screen Time fetch, monitor, or block the app and thus cause the issue.
  • Low Power Mode of the Devices: You may also encounter the Screen Time issue at hand if any of the devices involved is in its low power mode as in this mode, most of the background activity (including Screen Time) is paused.
  • App Added to Always Allowed List of the Screen Time: If an app is added to the Always Allowed list of the Screen Time module, then any other setting like App Limits or Content restrictions will fail to block access to that app. This is because the ‘Always Allowed’ setting supersedes any other Screen Time setting.
  • Corrupt OS of the Devices: If the OS of any of the devices involved is corrupt, then that may cause the issue at hand as the Screen Time may fail to access the OS modules required for its operation. 

 

1. Force Restart the Devices

A temporary communication glitch between the Screen Time devices (parent/guardian and child devices) may not let the Screen Time work properly. In this case, force restarting the devices may solve the problem. Before proceeding, make sure the child is not using any hack to bypass the Apple Screen Time. 

  1. Power off all related devices (guardian/parent and child phones along with other Apple devices like a Mac) and wait for 5 minutes.
    Slide to Power Off the iPhone
  2. Now power on the guardian’s device and wait for 5 minutes.
  3. Then power on the child’s device (one by one, if more than one device), and afterward, check if the Screen Time has started to work fine.
  4. If not, press/ release the volume up button of the iPhone.
  5. Then press/ release the volume down button of the iPhone.
  6. Now press and hold the iPhone’s side button till the Apple logo is shown on the screen.
    Force Restart the iPhone
  7. Then release the side button of your iPhone and once the phone has powered on, perform a force restart (steps 4 to 6) on other devices as well.
  8. Afterward, check if the screen time working issue is resolved.

2. Update the Devices’ OS to the Latest Build

If the OS of any of the devices (parent/guardian or child) is outdated, then that may cause incompatibility between the devices and the Screen Time due to which the Screen Time might fail to properly apply the rules/policies on the incompatible device. Here, updating the devices’ OS to the latest build may solve the Screen Time problem. For elucidation, we will discuss the process of updating the iOS of an iPhone.

  1. Firstly, make sure the iPhone is charged full, and preferably, connect it to a Wi-Fi network.
  2. Now launch the Settings of your iPhone and on the screen shown, select General.
    Open General Settings of iPhone
  3. Now open Software Update and if an iOS update is shown, download and install the update.
    Update Software of iPhone
  4. Once done, restart your iPhone and then make sure the operating systems of other related devices are also updated to their latest builds.
  5. Afterward, check if the Apple Screen Time is working fine.

3. Update the Apps on the Device to the Latest Build

If the problematic app (like Chrome) is outdated, then its incompatibility with the Screen Time modules may lead to the issue at hand. Here, updating the problematic app to the latest build may solve the Apple Screen Time issue.

  1. Launch the Apple App Store and tap on your profile icon.
  2. Now scroll down to the updates section and tap on Update All or tap on Update for the problematic app.
    Update All Apps on an iPhone
  3. Once the problematic apps are updated, restart the phone and upon restart, check if the Screen Time issue is resolved.

4. Disable Low Power Mode on the Devices

Many Apple devices (like an iPhone) are equipped with a low power mode. In this mode, the device halts many non-essential operations like background app activities including Screen Time modules. If any of your devices are in their Low Power Mode, then the disabled background operations may not let the Screen Time monitor or block the apps.

Here, disabling the low power mode on the devices may resolve the Screen Time issue. For elucidation, we will discuss the process of disabling the Low Power Mode on an iPhone.

  1. Launch the iPhone Settings and open the Battery.
    Open Battery in iPhone Settings
  2. Now disable Low Power Mode by toggling its switch to the off position and then disable the low power mode on other devices as well.
    Disable Low Power Mode of the iPhone
  3. Afterward, check if the Screen Time has started to work normally.

5. Disable Share Across Devices Feature of the Screen Time

Apple Screen Time has a Share Across Devices feature. When this feature is enabled, all of your devices (linked via iCloud) show similar Screen Time behavior. Supposedly the Screen Time “thinks” that a connected child device is your (parent/guardian) device and does not apply the Screen Time policy to that child device, then that may result in the Screen Time issue at hand. Here, disabling the Share Across Devices feature of the Apple Screen Time may solve the problem. For illustration, we will discuss the process of disabling Share Across Device on an iPhone.

  1. Launch the iPhone Settings and select Screen Time.
  2. Now disable Share Across Devices by toggling its switch to the off position and afterward, restart the device.
    Disable Share Across Devices of the Apple Screen Time
  3. Then repeat the same on other devices to disable Share Across Devices and afterward, check if the Apple Screen Time is working as per the requirements.

6. Disable/Enable the Apple Screen Time

The child’s Screen Time might not work due to a temporary glitch and disabling/enabling the Apple Screen Time feature may solve the problem.

  1. Launch the iPhone Settings and select Screen Time.
    Turn Off Screen Time on the iPhone
  2. Now tap on Turn Off Screen Time and then confirm to disable it. Keep in mind you will lose all the previous data and configurations. 
  3. Afterward, restart your iPhone and other devices (like a child’s iPhone, MacBook, etc.).
  4. Upon restart, enable Screen Time and then check if it is working fine.
  5. If the issue persists, disable Screen Time and force restart the iPhone (as discussed earlier).
  6. Upon restart, enable Screen Time and check if it is working fine.
  7. If not, then on a guardian/parent iPhone, launch the iPhone Settings and select Screen Time.
  8. Now tap on the child’s name and at the bottom of the screen, disable the Screen Time by tapping on Turn Off Screen Time.
  9. Now, on the child’s iPhone, launch the iPhone Settings and select the child’s Apple ID (near the top right).
  10. Then, near the bottom of the screen, tap on Sign Out and then confirm to sign out of the iPhone.
    Sign Out of the Apple ID on the iPhone
  11. Now power off the child’s iPhone and wait for 5 minutes.
  12. Then power on the child’s iPhone and launch the iPhone Settings.
  13. Now tap on Sign into Your iPhone (near the top) and then log in using the child’s Apple ID.
    Sign in to Your iPhone
  14. Then, on the guardian/parent iPhone, set up the Screen Time, and afterward, check if it is working fine.

7. Remove the Guardian/Child from the Blocked Contacts

If any of the children or guardians have blocked the other one on an Apple service (like FaceTime), then Apple may not propagate the Screen Time rules/policies between the devices as it “thinks” that the parties involved are not trusting each other, so there is no point in monitoring or blocking the apps. Here, removing the guardian/child from the blocked contacts may solve the problem. For illustration, we will discuss the process of removing the guardian/child from the iPhone’s FaceTime Block Contacts.

  1. Launch the iPhone Settings and open FaceTime.
    Open FaceTime in the iPhone Settings
  2. Now select Blocked Contacts and swipe left on the required contact.
    Open Blocked Contacts on FaceTime
  3. Then tap on Unblock and afterward, restart the iPhone.
    Unblock Contact on FaceTime
  4. Upon restart, unblock the guardian/child on other devices as well, and afterward, check if the Apple Screen Time is working normally.

8. Enable Block at End of Limit Option of the Screen Time

If the ‘Block at End of the Limit’ option of Screen Time is not enabled, then a child may overuse an app. Here, he is reminded that time is up but the application isn’t blocked. Here, enabling the ‘Block at End of Limit’ option may solve the problem.

  1. Launch the iPhone Settings and open Screen Time.
  2. Now open Apps Limits and tap on the problematic apps like Messenger. 
  3. Afterward, enable Block at End of Limit by toggling its switch to ON position. 
    Enable Block at End of Limit for the Particular Apps in Screen Time
  4. Then restart the iPhone and other devices.
  5. Upon restart, check if the Apple Screen Time issue is resolved.

9. Rename the Child’s Device

If a child’s device was restored from an old backup, then the device’s old name may glitch out the Screen Time modules and cause the issue at hand. In this context, renaming the child’s device may solve the problem.

  1. On the child device, launch the iPhone Settings and select General.
  2. Now open About and select Name.
    Change the Name of the iPhone
  3. Then delete the old name and enter the new name of the device. 
  4. Now tap on Done and restart both devices (guardian/parent and child).
  5. Upon restart, check if the Apple Screen Time is working fine.

10. Clear the Browser History

If the Screen Time is showing excessive use of a particular website, then the corrupt history of the browser may be causing the issue. Here, clearing the browser history may solve the problem. For illustration, we will discuss the process of clearing the history of the Safari browser.

  1. Launch the iPhone Settings and select Safari.
    Open Safari in iPhone Settings
  2. Now tap on Clear History and Website Data.
    Clear History and Website Data of Safari on iPhone
  3. Then confirm to clear the Safari history and data.
  4. Afterward, check if the Screen Time issue is cleared.
  5. If not, check if clearing the history of other browsers (like Chrome) resolves the issue.

11. Enable Screen Time Integration of the Chrome Browser

If the issue is occurring with the Chrome browser, then the browser’s incompatibility with the Screen Time might be causing the issue, and enabling the Screen Time Integration of the Chrome browser may solve the problem. Other apps might have a similar setting to be enabled to be compatible with the Apple Screen Time and you may use that setting to use the app with the Screen Time. 

  1. Launch the Chrome browser and enter the following in the address bar:
    chrome://flags/
  2. Now search for screentime and enable the option of Enables ScreenTime Integration.
    Enables ScreenTime Integration in the Chrome Flags
  3. Then relaunch the Chrome browser and afterward, check if the Screen Time working problem is solved.

12. Disable/Enable Ask to Buy in the Family Sharing

If you are using the family sharing to manage the child’s device through the Screen Time, then a temporary glitch in the family sharing authentication modules might cause the issue. In such a case, disabling/enabling ‘Ask to Buy’ in the family sharing may re-enforce the Screen Time policies and thus may solve the problem. If you are not using Family Sharing, check if setting it up on your devices (parent/guardian and children) does the trick for you.

  1. Launch the iPhone Settings and tap on your username.
  2. Now open Family Sharing and tap on the child’s name.
    Open Family Sharing on the iPhone
  3. Then disable Ask to Buy by toggling its switch to the off position and afterward, repeat the same to other child accounts as well.
    Disable Ask to Buy for the Family Member in the iPhone’s Family Sharing
  4. Once done, restart the iPhone, and upon restart, enable the Ask to Buy feature in the Family Sharing.
  5. Afterward, check if the Screen Time has started to work as intended.

13. Set the Date/Time to Automatic and Enable Block at Downtime

If the date/time on the child’s device is not set to automatic, then that may cause the Screen Time working issue at hand as the Screen Time may fail to access the required date/time modules. Here, setting the date/time to automatic may solve the problem.

Also, if an app is not blocked during downtime, it will give the child unlimited access to the app during the downtime. In this scenario, setting the date/time to automatic and enabling the Block at Downtime feature may solve the problem.

  1. Launch the iPhone Settings and open General.
  2. Now select Date & Time and make sure it is set to automatic.
    Open Date and Time Settings on Your iPhone
  3. Then head to the Screen Time in the iPhone Settings and tap on the family member’s name.
    Enable Set Automatically for iPhone’s Date & Time
  4. Now select Set Screen Time Passcode and enter a passcode. If a passcode is already set, it will be better to set a new passcode.
  5. Then open Downtime in the Screen Time settings and enable Block at Downtime.
    Open Downtime in the Screen Time Settings
  6. Now wait for a few minutes and then check if the Apple Screen Time is working fine.
    Enable Block at Downtime in the Screen Time Settings
  7. If not, head to the Screen Time in the iPhone Settings and disable Downtime by toggling its switch to the off position.
    Disable Downtime of the Screen Time
  8. Afterward, check if the Apple Screen Time issue is resolved.

14. Remove the Problematic Apps from the Always Allowed list

If the problematic apps are added to the ‘Always Allowed’ list of the Screen Tme, then any of the Screen Time rules (including Downtime) may not apply to those apps as the ‘Always Allowed’ supersedes any other Screen Time settings, resulting in the issue at hand. In this case, removing the problematic apps from the Always Allowed list may solve the problem.

  1. On a guardian’s device, launch the iPhone Settings and open Screen Time.
  2. Now select Always Allowed and unselect the apps you want to apply the Screen Time rules.
    Enable Always Allowed in the Screen Time Settings
  3. Then hit the back button and afterward, check if the Screen Time is operating normally.
    Remove Problematic Apps from the Always Allowed List of the Screen Time
  4. If that fails, head to the Screen Time settings on the child’s phone and open Always Allowed.
  5. Now approve all the apps that you are trying to block like social media apps and hit the back button to go to the previous screen.
  6. Then close the window by swiping up and afterward, again open the Screen Time in the iPhone’s Settings.
  7. Then open Always Allowed and remove all the apps from the list that you want to block.
  8. Now hit the back button and close the Settings app by swiping up.
  9. Then check if the Screen Time has started to work as per your requirements.
  10. If not, check if uninstalling the problematic app (like Chrome) and blocking the App Store on the child’s device solves the problem.

15. Use the Apps Limits to Manage the Problematic Apps

If the general downtime or categories-based filtering of the Screen Time is not working on the problematic apps, then using the app limit to manage the problematic apps may solve the problem.

  1. Launch the iPhone Settings and open Screen Time.
  2. Now select Apps Limits and tap on Add Limit.
    Open App Limits in the Screen Time
  3. Then select the problematic app. You may have to open particular categories to select the problematic app. If the problematic app is not shown, you may follow step 7.
    Open Add Limit in the App Limits of the Screen Time
  4. Now set the amount of the time allowed for the problematic app and follow the prompts on the screen to complete the process.
  5. Once done, tap on Add, and afterward, repeat the same for other problematic apps as well.
    Add App Limits to the Screen Time
  6. Once completed, check if the Screen Time is working normally.
  7. If the problematic app is not shown on step 3, head to the Screen Time in the iPhone Settings and tap on the child’s name.
  8. Now open See All Activity and select Most Used.
    Open See All Activity in the Screen Time
  9. Then check if the problematic app is shown there. If the app is not shown, then follow step 11.
  10. If the problematic app is shown in the previous step, tap on Add Limit to apply the app limit and then check if the Screen Time problem is solved.
  11. If the app is not shown on step 5, open the Screen Time in the iPhone Settings and select Apps Limits.
  12. Now tap on Add Limits and open the search bar by pulling it down on the screen.
  13. Then search for the problematic app (like Chrome) and select the app in the results.
  14. Now follow the prompts on the screen to apply the app limit and then check if the Screen Time issue is resolved.
  15. If that fails and you are trying to block the apps based on the age group, then check if decreasing the age limit (e.g., from 12 years to 4 years) solves the problem.

16. Use the Content & Privacy Restrictions of the Screen Time

If the normal Screen Time limits are not working, using the Content & Privacy Restrictions of the Screen Time may solve the problem.

  1. Launch the iPhone Settings and select Screen Time.
  2. Now open Content & Privacy Restrictions and in Allowed Apps, disable all the apps.
    Open Content & Privacy Restrictions in the Screen Time
  3. Then in the Content Restrictions, open Apps and select Don’t Allow Apps. These apps will be hidden on the child’s device but not deleted.
    Open Content Restrictions in the Screen Time Settings
  4. Afterward, check if the Screen Time issue is resolved. If so, then you may enable back the apps one by one as per the age.
  5. If not, check if blocking the particular app/website (like TikTok) under Content & Privacy Restrictions solves the problem.
  6. If that fails, head to Content & Privacy Restrictions in Screen Time and open Content Restrictions.
  7. Now select Web Content and select Allowed Websites Only.
    Enable Allowed Websites Only in the Web Content of the Screen Time
  8. Then enter the problematic website (like YouTube) and check if the issue is resolved.

17. Relog into the iCloud

Screen Time uses the iCloud modules to perform many of its operations and a temporary glitch of iCloud may not let the Screen Time work properly, resulting in the issue under discussion. In this context, re-logging into the iCloud may solve the Screen Time issue.

  1. On the child’s device, launch the iPhone’s Settings and select iCloud.
  2. Then tap on Sign Out and afterward, confirm to log out.
    Sign Out of iCloud on iPhone
  3. Now make sure to select the option of Save iCloud Data to the iPhone.
  4. Then, wait for a few minutes and restart the iPhone.
  5. Upon restart, log into the iCloud and when asked, select Merge Data on iPhone to iCloud.
  6. Afterward, check if Apple Screen Time is working fine.
  7. If not, log out of the iCloud on the parent/guardian device and restart the device.
  8. Upon restart, log into the iCloud and then check if the Screen Time is operating normally.

18. Re-pair the Apple Watch with the iPhone

If the Apple Screen Time is failing to work properly on an Apple Watch, then the corrupt communication between the iPhone and the Apple Watch might be causing the issue. Here, re-pairing the Apple Watch with the iPhone may solve the problem. Before moving on, make sure to fully charge the Apple Watch and connected iPhone. Also, do not forget to bring both devices next to each other.

  1. Launch the Watch app on your iPhone and open All Watches.
    Open All Watches in the iPhone’s Watch App
  2. Now press the info button for the problematic watch and on the resulting screen, tap on Unpair Apple Watch.
    Tap on the Info Icon on Your Apple Watch
  3. Then confirm to unpair the Apple Watch. In the case of a cellular watch, you may choose to Remove or Keep the Plan.
    Unpair Apple Watch Through the iPhone’s Watch App
  4. Once asked to, enter your Apple Credentials and follow the prompts on the screen to complete the process.
  5. Once done, restart the iPhone and Apple Watch.
  6. Upon restart, re-pair the iPhone and Apple Watch to check if the Apple Screen Time is working fine.

19. Reset the Devices to Their Factory Defaults

If none of the above worked, then the corrupt OS of any of the devices could be the root cause of the issue, and here, resetting the devices (not an easy option to opt for) to the factory defaults may solve the problem. For illustration, we will discuss the process of resetting an iPhone to the factory defaults. Before proceeding, do not forget to back up your iPhone.

  1. Launch the iPhone Settings and select General.
  2. Now open Reset and tap on the option of Erase All Contents and Settings.
     
  3. Then confirm to factory reset your iPhone by tapping on Erase Everything and wait till the reset process of the iPhone completes.
    Erase All Content and Settings of iPhone
  4. Once completed, re-setup your iPhone (preferably as a new device), and afterward, repeat the same to reset all the other related devices (like a child’s device).
  5. Afterward, hopefully, the Apple Screen Time will be working fine.

If none of the above worked, then either you may contact Apple Support or try another screen time management app to manage the screen time.

Kevin Arrows
Kevin is a dynamic and self-motivated information technology professional, with a Thorough knowledge of all facets pertaining to network infrastructure design, implementation and administration. Superior record of delivering simultaneous large-scale mission critical projects on time and under budget.

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