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iOS 15 Focus Modes for Kids Gaming

// Written by Jordan Morgan // Mar 7th, 2022 // Read it in about 1 minutes // RE: Plus Things

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If you’re a parent, you know that there are three inevitable occurrences in life:

  1. Death.
  2. Taxes.
  3. Your kids wanting to play games on your phone.

What begins as an innocent gaming session of the latest kid’s gaming craze becomes an embarrassing affair of your little ones accidentally getting on social media and wrecking shop. Or, sending this to random contacts you haven’t talked to in years:

⏮😋💩😋🟥🤩🟥🤩🟥🤩🟥🤩💩😋🟥🤩🟥🤩 ⏮😋🟥🤩🟥🤩🟥🤩💩😋🟥🤩🟥🤩

…I had to do something 😅.

It turns out, you can take iOS 15 to task and avoid these kinds of situations altogether, and you can do it using Focus Modes. While I would consider myself among the cognoscenti of iOS enthusiasts, this little technique alluded me long after iOS 15 initially shipped. Here’s how it all fits together.


Focus Modes help you tailor your Apple devices to certain situations you have throughout the day. Maybe you’d have one for work, one for when you get home or whatever the situation may call for. When I first started messing with them, what helped me to understand them better was to instead think of them as user profiles.

While they aren’t that technically, the semantics behind that term better describe what a Focus Mode can do. And that is, completely change how your iPhone works when one is on.

For the kid’s gaming sessions, here’s what happens to mine:

  1. First, and most importantly, it changes the homescreen to show only ones with games on it.
  2. It silences all notifications.

The trick to getting this to work is by dragging all of the games onto a new page(s), and set things up to where those only show when the Focus Mode is on. This part initially confused me, because I’d assumed that you could do this within the Focus Mode editor itself. But, you can’t as of yet.

So, just drag all of the games onto their own pages, and you’re set.

Once you’ve got that sorted out, you can long press on the paging dots at the bottom of your homescreen to hide those away when the Focus Mode isn’t on:

Hiding pages on an iOS 15 homescreen.

Next, you simply create a new Focus Mode within iOS’ Settings app. Give it a name and then you can associate which screens you want to show when it’s on (i.e. the ones you just hid away):

Creating a Focus Mode on iOS 15.

You can go a bit further if you want, such as disabling notifications altogether or tweaking the lock screen.

The Result

That’s it. Here’s how it looks in action:

An iOS 15 Focus Mode activating.

Now, only games show and no notifications come through. It’s not bulletproof, if your kids are savvy enough, they can get into your apps still. But, if your kids are anything like mine, they have zero interest in opening them. They just want the games, everything else happens by accident.

And this? This cuts down on the accidents.

If you enable the Focus Mode toggle in Control Center, you can activate Focus Modes in mere seconds. Plus, using Siri Shortcut automations, you can even have one pop on at a certain time or place. There are several applications outside of just tailoring your phone for your kiddos.

Final Thoughts

Focus Modes didn’t make much of a fuss out of last year’s WWDC, but I do believe they are a hidden gem of iOS 15. Once you grok what they are meant for, you can really get in the weeds.

I have one that automatically pops on in the morning, hiding all social media. Then another one for work, based off geolocation, that’ll tweak some notifications and put worky work stuff on the home page. You get the idea.

Hopefully, through cultural osmosis, Focus Modes will start to become the norm for the day-to-day iOS user. At least, it’ll keep little Timmy from logging onto your social media when they intended on just crashing some crates with the help of good ol’ Angry Birds.

Until next time ✌️


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