Fix: Screen Time not blocking apps on iPhone/iPad

Screen Time is not only a great way to track and limit your own iPhone/iPad usage but to keep track of your kid’s activity, too. Especially in the day and age where our lives orbit around our smartphones and it’s hard to set healthy boundaries. But, taking full advantage of the feature requires some tweaks and an occasional bug can disrupt the whole concept. Some users report that, no matter what they try, Screen Time is not blocking apps on their or their kid’s iPhone’s and iPad’s.

Luckily, we have a suggestion or two on how to try and meliorate your problems with Screen Time on iOS and iPadOS.

Table of contents:

  1. Check the Always Allowed list and Downtime apps
  2. Create the Screen Time passcode
  3. Enable Block at End of Limit
  4. Update your iPhone/iPad
  5. Reset All Settings and set up Screen

Screen Time limits not working

1. Check the Always Allowed list

Let’s start by checking the Always Allowed list. This list contains apps that are whitelisted from Downtime settings and the limitations you’ve set are not imposed on them. Make sure to check the list and, if there’s an app that should be restricted, remove it from the list.

Here’s where to find the option and check this:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Tap on Screen Time.
  3. Select Always Allowed. Enter Screen Time passcode if asked.
  4. Tap on the “” sign next to an app that you want to remove.
  5. Tap Remove.

Only the apps you add to the list, along with calls, will be allowed during the Downtime schedule.

2. Create the Screen Time passcode

In order to prevent meddling with Screen Time, you’ll need to create the Screen Time passcode. Although this is not necessary, there seems to be a bug (especially on pre-iOS 12) that breaks the functionality without the Screen Time passcode being set. Basically, the apps that should be limited are breaking through the limit because of it.

So, make sure to create the Screen Time passcode by following these instructions:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Select Screen Time.
  3. Tap Use Screen Time Passcode.
  4. Enter a 4-digits PIN and re-enter it to confirm it.
  5. Add your Apple Account as this is the only way to reset Screen Time Passcode in case you forget it.
  6. Tap OK and that’s it. Every time there’s any change in Screen Time settings, you’ll be prompted to enter the passcode in order to gain access.

Once you’ve done that, reboot your device and test apps to see if the system is blocking them or not.

3. Enable Block at End of Limit

This is an important option that needs to be enabled. Basically, instead of just getting a prompt that you’ve reached the limit, this will block it completely. However, in order for it to work, you’ll need to set the Screen time passcode.

With that in mind, here’s how to enable the Block at End of Limit option:

  1. Open Screen Time from Settings again.
  2. Tap App Limits and enable App Limits if disabled.
  3. Now, if you already have a configured limits list, just tap on it. If not, tap on the Add Limit, then set the time limit and choose categories or individual apps (found within categories) that you want to limit. You can create a few lists with different time limits and containing different categories/individual apps. After that, just tap on the newly-created list.
  4. There you’ll see the Block at End of Limit option. Enable it.
  5. Repeat this if you have more App Limits lists.

This will prevent access to listed apps after they reach their daily time limit. You can, of course, disable imposed limit but only with the passcode. So kids won’t be able to do it on their own.

4. Update your iPhone/iPad

Based on Screen Time not blocking apps-related reports we read online, users usually refer to an older version of iOS. So, make sure your device is up to date and, at the time of writing this article, we are nearing the iOS/iPadOS 14.5 update. Of course, this applies to 6S/iPad Mini 3 devices and newer, but the majority of active devices are in that span.

So, make sure to install all updates. You can check for updates manually by following these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Select General.
  3. Tap Software Updates.
  4. Download and install any available updates.

5. Reset All Settings and set up Screen

Finally, if none of the previous steps worked for you and Screen Time isn’t blocking apps as intended, you can reset all device settings and set up Screen Time limitations from scratch.

Here’s how to reset All Settings on iPhone or iPad:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Select Reset.
  4. Tap Reset All Settings.
  5. Enter PIN/password.
  6. Tap Reset All Settings in a dialog box.

That should do it. Thank you for reading, feel free to follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and share alternative solutions or questions in the comments section below. We look forward to hearing from you.

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