Multiple downtimes per day on a child’s iPhone

I’d like to schedule two periods of Downtime for each day on our daughter’s iPhone. Unfortunately, Downtime supports only a single period of downtime per day.

Does anyone know a way to use Shortcuts to turn Downtime on/off on child’s iPhone that is part of Family Sharing?

I am not sure how to do this within the iPhone (or if it can be done), but you should be able to exact more control over data and time usage with a good router that has more extensive features. This would only work if your daughter’s phone was on your own wifi, however.

One router example (and certainly not the only brand or model you can choose) is the Synology RT2600ac. It has been around for a few years and the company is due to release a new model possibly this year, but the 2600 is still a very good device with lots of controls over your internal and external networking. did a technical review of the RT2600ac back in Feb. 2017.

Try contacting Synology. Their support staff are responsive and you can ask pointed questions about your needs. As a recent anecdote, I had a question about their older, discontinued RT1900ac. Even though it was purchased over 7 years ago, after Synology could not help via email, they offered to set up a phone support appointment to work through the technical issues with a remote access observer. I also find it impressive that they continue to provide security updates for this product, unlike so many other brands out there.

Again, this is only one example. I am sure the community here can offer up other router options or solutions.

I have one colleague whose neighbour simply unplugs the router and puts it in his car or their bedroom when they want the net off!

From my experience we found extensive and (at times repeated) conversations with our daughter has resulted in her switching off the phone and keeping it charging in the kitchen (as opposed to her room) overnight and at other times.

Naturally we have struggled ourselves to match this…

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Perhaps an alternative would be placing limits on individual apps or categories?

Thank you for replying and pointing out that router-based rules can be an important of parental control of a child’s online activity.

Unfortunately, as you mention, an at-home router can not control activity when a child isn’t using it to connect to the internet, e.g., while at school or even while at home using a cellular connection.

I think need an iPhone software solution, preferably one that can be managed remotely via Apple’s Family Sharing.

Please share any other ideas you have.

Thank you.

Yes, this is exactly what I want to do.

I can’t think of any way to control access to iOS apps other than Focus or Screen Time. But neither will address my problem because:

  1. Focus: I’m not aware of any way to start/stop a Focus on her iPhone from mine, i.e., remotely. Yes, Focus could be set up on her iPhone to turn on/off based on a geo-fence around her school. But, she’d could just disable it. I don’t know a way to lock down a Focus.
  2. Screen Time’s Downtime can disable access to apps based on a schedule (managed remotely via Family Sharing) and she can’t disable it. But Downtime supports only a single period of access control. I need to shut down access during (at least) two periods, once during school and again at bedtime. Alternatively, I could get the effect of multiple Downtime periods by (a) using a Shortcut running on my iPhone to toggle Downtime on her device, and (b) calling this Shortcut from another Shortcut running on my iPhone that fires at preset times. Alas, (a) isn’t supported either as a Shortcut action or URL scheme.

Can you think of any other ideas?

How about Downtime for a single specific period of time, and per-app or per-category App Limits for the rest of the time? Both are set through the Screen Time interface.


  • downtime: 10pm to 6am
  • social category app limits: 4h each day

That way you’re being firm with the Downtime, but also giving your daughter responsibility to manage the rest of her time with the App Limit in mind.

Yes, I’d thought of this. And yes, it puts the onus on her to budget her app time wisely.

But, I suspect that Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) will reign and she’ll use and exhaust her app time during school. If this what happens, she still will not be focusing on school during school.

It’s a good idea, but I’d rather shut off access to SnapChat, Instagram, Housecall, TikTok, etc. altogether while she’s at school.

You may want to check with your mobile carrier.

For instance, Verizon has their Smart Family which (for a fee) can monitor and restrict mobile and Internet usage. I think you need to install a companion app on your child’s phone in order to use some of its features.

I used its predecessor, Family Base, for many years. I only configured it to provide a monthly mobile data limit, in order to avoid overage charges (before this, my child would blow through my 15BG shared data plan in a week, thanks to social media apps). It offered many more features that I didn’t use, which include limiting Internet access to certain times/dates and controlling what apps can and can not be installed. It also sent me weekly summaries of usage times and the phone numbers that were sending/receiving calls and texts.

(I canceled the service altogether last year when we switched our family plan to unlimited data.)

Thank you for suggesting using a cellular provider service that controls wireless as well as WiFi usage.

I hadn’t considered this since I would NOT have expected their service to include WiFi.

Unfortunately, this Verizon service seems oriented to Android devices and their FAQ indicates several limitations for iDevices.

Our family’s cellular provider is Page Plus Cellular, a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) that uses Verizon’s wireless network. They have good plans, but I’m not aware of them offering any monitoring features.

Hmmm… I just read through that FAQ. The only Android-only I could find was screen-time monitoring. And it’s not necessary there, because Apple includes it as a part of iOS, monitorable via Family Sharing.

That’s a bigger issue. Since you don’t have a Verizon account, then you clearly can’t use their value-add services. And it appears (from a brief skim over their web site) that Page Plus doesn’t offer any kind of family monitoring service.

Yeah, I had a strong suspicion I was info dumping something that was not relevant to your situation.

I am loathe to recommend any iOS software with out having tried it myself. David’s point about using what your existing mobile carrier offers is a good start, but it sounds like your middle-man provider may interfere with that.

I tend to worry that any 3rd party app is tracking your child’s activity. Nothing is “free” of course.

Please be aware that any links I provide here are just things I found in searches that perked my interest on your behalf and for the topic.

Here is a different approach: Apps that control your OWN use. Not sure if that kind of app would work either, and of course it might side-step any child protection regulations, if they exist. (This article is from 2015)

RealSpyApps appears to review potential spyware and other elements of various mobile apps. Here is an example of their take on iKeyMonitor which purports to be the ultimate parental control software. (This all may be overkill for what you need, of course. You are primarily trying to control time-of-use each day and may not be concerned with “spying” on your child’s actual activities.)

Many of the “big” media news channels cite Consumers Advocate (.org) for whatever that is worth. I will give them credit for having a lot more information and for not looking like a simple marketing page posing as a review site like so many pop-up web review places.

I would suggest that whatever app or product you settle on, do searches on that app at least every month to see if they rise to the surface of the “news radar”. In other words, if they have a security issue or get reported for some activity that you should know about. We often spend a lot of time doing research and then relax once we have decided on something. :nerd_face:

I also wanted to say that Nello’s situation is a perfect example of why more robust, reliable and trustworthy tools are needed for parents.

Apple, the company that purports to be all about their customers’ security, needs to do far more than they are in the interest of child safety and parental controls. They often apply a one-and-done approach to most things. Parents need enterprise-level tools to help guard and educate their children online… not an afterthought add-on.

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Yes, Apple has done a nice job with the creation of its Family Sharing infrastructure with AppleIDs in iCloud.

But, it is not enough.

We need Shortcut actions and/or URL schemes that facilitate making use of Family Sharing plumbing. It’s as if Apple put pipes in the walls in our house, connected them to the city’s water main, but neglected to terminate the pipes in such a way that we could attach a sink and faucets. So, the pipes just sit there, with water under pressure in them but untapped for drinking, washing, etc. Well, that’s my analogy anyway.

It is really frustrating that Apple’s approach to parental controls using Screen Time doesn’t support a Downtime use case for both school and bedtime. What are they thinking by having only a single period for Downtime?!?

Anything helpful here?