I find that I spend way too much time in YouTube and TikTok and want to set some sort of timer so I don’t waste hours! is there a way to easily do that on my Android phone?
You’re by no means the only person who finds that their smartphone has taken on a life of its own and causes them to waste many hours each day. It’s not just a problem with social media sites, however, some people find that the games on their devices are addictive too. It’s also so darn easy to have your device by your bedside and when you don’t fall asleep in two or three minutes, you pick it up again for another session!
Fortunately, Android has you covered with parental controls. Yes, you can use them for yourself, you don’t even need children to find the feature beneficial (and it’s doubly so for your children if they’re starting to get addicted to their smartphones too). I have mine set up to limit YouTube on my Google Pixel and it’s an interesting experience. let me show you how it works, then how to set it up…
RUNNING OUT OF TIME WITH PARENTAL LIMITS
I have my YouTube time limit set very short, so I run out of time pretty quickly: 15 minutes. When there’s one minute left, a warning pops up and then the most interesting change occurs: The app’s display turns from full color to black & white:
What’s curious is that there’s no way to know why it’s switched to black & white. Tap on it and you just get the regular on-screen buttons:
Nonetheless, when the last minute runs out – even if I stop for a few hours – the screen is replaced with a message:
Of course, “Settings” can lead you to the controls that allow you to disable the limit, but with just a little bit of self-control, you can tap “OK” or just quit the app once the timer has run out.
Thinking you can simply restart it to get a new increment of time? It actually greys out the app icon!
Even a restart of the phone won’t clear the timer. Mostly effective and certainly a great way to learn how much time you do spend with these favorite apps.
SETTING UP APP TIME LIMITS IN ANDROID
Now that you can see how it works, let’s jump in and see how it’s set up. Launch “Settings” and search for “app limits”. Scrolling down just a little bit reveals:
Tap on “Digital Wellbeing & parental controls” to proceed. I’m capturing these images at the beginning of the day so there isn’t much time spent as of yet, other than watching a few YouTube videos:
In total, I have spent 16 minutes on my Android phone, just about all of it on YouTube. This display can be quite insightful at the end of the day; worth checking as the last thing you do before bedtime. If you’re spending more than a few hours each day on your phone, well, you might want to set up a few limits, not just one.
To see specific app timers, tap on “Dashboard“…
YouTube has somehow run for 16 minutes even though I have a 15min timer. Not to worry, it’s still not going to give me more time with the timer set this way, at least until midnight rolls around. You can extend or cancel the timer by simply tapping on the app name, however:
15 minutes is definitely quite short, but you can set it fairly long too if you really must have a few hours of TikTok every day! Or, if you prefer, you can “Delete timer” (unless you’re setting it for the first time, in which case that option won’t be displayed). I’ll change it to 30 minutes.
Notice the confirmation notice at the bottom of the screen. Not only that, but the app icon has regained its color:
That should give you the tools you need to get a better handle on your app usage. Good luck!
Pro Tip: There are lots of ways to manage your Android devices and ensure the best possible experience. Learn more by checking out my extensive Android help area while you’re here too!