Encouraging Active Screen Time with Apple Devices: Guiding Students to Collect Data, Reflect, and Become Engaged Users of Technology

By collecting data and reflecting on their technology use, students will analyze their screen time habits, identify patterns, and select strategies to be more active, purposeful, and engaged users of technology for learning. 

‘If I’m looking at the device more than I’m looking in someone’s eyes- I’m doing the wrong thing’ - Tim Cook, Apple CEO

In today's educational landscape, the integration of technology is not just beneficial but essential for effective teaching and learning. However, the challenge lies in ensuring that students use their devices, such as iPads and MacBooks, purposefully and efficiently without falling into the traps of distraction and overuse. As educators, it is crucial to guide students in managing their screen time, helping them to balance their academic responsibilities with mindful digital habits. One powerful tool at our disposal is Apple's Screen Time feature, which provides insights and controls to manage device usage effectively. 

Screen Time, a built-in application on Apple devices, allows students to monitor and control their app and website usage. By turning on Screen Time, students can access detailed reports on how much time they spend on various applications and websites, enabling them to identify areas where they might be losing valuable study time. To activate Screen Time, students should go to Settings, tap on Screen Time, and then enable the feature along with App & Website Activity. This setup will generate comprehensive reports showing daily and weekly usage, the number of pickups, and the frequency of notifications received (https://support.apple.com/en-us/108806).

One of the most effective ways students can utilize Screen Time is by setting App Limits and Downtime. App Limits allow students to allocate specific amounts of time to different categories of apps, such as social networking, games, or productivity tools. For instance, during school hours or homework periods, students can limit their access to entertainment apps, ensuring they remain focused on educational tasks. Downtime, on the other hand, enables students to schedule periods when only essential apps and phone calls are allowed. This feature is particularly useful for creating uninterrupted study sessions or ensuring a good night's rest free from digital distractions (https://support.apple.com/en-us/108806).

Educators can support students by regularly discussing their Screen Time reports and helping them set realistic goals for reducing unnecessary screen time. Encouraging students to reflect on their device usage fosters self-regulation and accountability. Additionally, incorporating discussions about healthy digital habits and the importance of balancing screen time with offline activities can reinforce positive behaviors. By leveraging tools like Screen Time and fostering an open dialogue about device usage, we can help students develop crucial time management skills that will serve them well beyond their school years (https://support.apple.com/en-us/108806).

For more detailed information on managing screen time and incorporating these practices into your classroom, resources such as (Edutopia - https://www.edutopia.org/article/students-need-learn-manage-their-own-screen-time/) and (Apple Education: Supporting Digital Well-being and Time Management - https://education.apple.com/resource/250011580) provide valuable insights and strategies.


Incorporating technology into time management lessons can significantly enhance students' organizational skills. One effective approach is combining Apple's Screen Time with the Numbers app, enabling students to visually track and analyze their screen time data. This activity, designed for a Homeroom or Advisory course, guides middle and high school students through creating a personalized time management plan using these tools.


Students will learn to track their screen time using Apple's Screen Time feature and create a visual representation of their data in the Numbers app. This will help them identify positive practices as well as areas for improvement and develop strategies for better time management.

Materials Needed:

Activity Duration:

  • Introduction and setup: 15+ minutes
  • Data collection: 1 week
  • Data analysis and presentation: 45 minutes

Step-by-Step Guide:

1. Introduction to Screen Time and Numbers (15+ minutes)

2. Setting Up Screen Time (5 minutes)

  • Guide students through the process of enabling Screen Time on their devices (iPad or Mac).
  • Enable Screen Time and App & Website Activity if not already enabled.
  • Ensure students understand how to access their Screen Time reports.

3. Collecting Screen Time Data (1 week)

  • Instruct students to monitor their Screen Time usage over the course of a week.  They should note:
  • Daily and weekly total screen time
  • Time spent on specific categories (e.g. social media, education apps)
  • Number of pickups and notifications received

4. Analyzing Screen Time Data with Numbers (45 minutes)

  • Download the Template and distribute to students. 


Screen Time data collection table in Numbers.
Screen Time data collection table in Numbers.

  • Guide students through the process of entering their Screen Time data into the spreadsheet.

  • Columns might include:
  • Date
  • Total Screen Time
  • Time Spent on Social Media
  • Time Spent on Educational Apps
  • Time Spent on Entertainment
  • Primary Action
  • Number of Pickups
  • Notifications Received

5. Developing a Time Management Plan (20 minutes)

  • Once the data is visualized, discuss with students how they can interpret their results.  Ask them to identify:
  • Patterns or trends in their screen time usage
  • Areas where they might be spending too much or too little time

6. Sharing and Reflecting (20 minutes)

  • Invite students to present their findings and goals to the class in order to foster a supportive environment where they can share tips and strategies for effective time management.
  • Conclude the activity with time for reflection.  Encourage students to think about how managing their screen time can positively impact their academic performance and overall well-being.
  • Possible reflection prompts include:

What patterns do you notice in your screen time usage throughout the week? Are there certain days or times when your screen time is higher or lower?

Did you spend more time on active or passive actions? What does this indicate about your productivity during the week?

How much time did you spend on educational apps and activities compared to entertainment apps?

Based on your data, what are three specific goals you can set for yourself to improve your screen time management next week?

Strategies for students to be more active and purposeful using technology for learning.

The goal is to encourage students to be active users of technology for learning. The resources that follow are useful toward achieving that goal.

Apple Learning Center


Take Photos and Videos


Take Notes


Record Audio


Capture What’s on Your Screen



Search Using Spotlight


Take Notes


Work with Multiple Apps


Share What’s on Your Screen


Additional Resources:

The Social Institute 2024 Student Insights (https://hubs.ly/Q02d034j0)

The WHO’s New Screen Time Limits Aren’t Really About Screens (https://www.theverge.com/2019/4/25/18516669/screen-time-limits-who-children-health-physical-activity-sleep-tv-phones)

How Harmful Is Screen Time For Kids? Not As Bad As We May Think (https://www.theverge.com/2019/4/25/18516669/screen-time-limits-who-children-health-physical-activity-sleep-tv-phones)

How Much Screen Time Is Bad For Kids? (https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamiemadigan/2019/08/05/new-research-how-much-screen-time-is-bad-for-kids/#434208484d30)

Digital Media: Promoting Healthy Screen Use In School-Aged Children And Adolescents (https://cps.ca/en/documents/position/digital-media)

By integrating Screen Time and the Numbers app, this activity not only helps students develop critical time management skills but also enhances their ability to analyze and interpret data as well as become more active, purposeful, and engaged users of technology for learning.  Hopefully, this practical approach can lead to meaningful improvements in their academic and personal lives.


2 replies

July 13, 2024


This would be a great activity for a Stat class, too. I love how you leverage the technology to create awareness and have student’s begin to become aware of their digital consumption.


July 13, 2024

This is amazing! This would be a great back to school activity or like Pam said, for a STATS class! It makes me want to do the activity myself! :)

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