How to turn the Screen Distance feature on or off on iPhone and iPad

iPhone and iPad Screen Distance feature

We all know that looking at a screen for too long and too close to your eyes is bad for your eyes. Doing this causes eyestrain and can even impact the early onset of nearsightedness (myopia) in children and younger adults.

Around 30% of the global population suffers from myopia, with a projected increase to 50% by 2050.

With nearsightedness on the rise, Apple created the feature Screen Distance available in iOS and iPadOS 17+ to alert you to move the iPhone or iPad away from your face so it’s at a safer distance from your eyes.

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About the Screen Distance feature for iPad and iPhone iPad and iPhone Screen Distance feature in screen time

Apple’s Screen Distance feature uses the device’s TrueDepth camera (which also powers Face ID) to analyze the distance from the eyes to the screen and, if needed, alerts and encourages people to move their device farther away after holding it closer than 12 inches for an extended period of time.

Screen Distance helps remind all users, especially younger users, to follow healthy viewing habits that research indicates lowers the risk of nearsightedness (myopia) and helps reduce eyestrain caused by screens.

This feature joins other screen health options like Night Mode and TrueTone to reduce the impact of screens on our eye health. 

Now, Screen Distance is available on devices that offer Face ID via Apple’s TrueDepth camera, including iPhone models with Face ID, iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation and later), and iPad Pro 11-inch (1st generation and later).

Now, you’d think that turning Screen Distance on and off is part of the Health app, but it’s not! Instead, you find this feature inside Screen Time.

How to turn on Screen Distance for iPad and iPhone

  1. On your iPhone or iPad, open the Settings app.
  2. Tap Screen Time
  3. Under Limit Usage, tap Screen Distance. Screen Distance option in Screen Time settings on iPhone and iPad
    1. If this is your first time, follow the prompts to learn about Screen Distance. Screen distance feature prompts in Screen Time on iPhone and iPad
  4. Toggle Screen Distance on. That’s it! Turn Screen Distance on for iPhone and iPad in Screen Time

How Screen Distance works

Now that you have turned on the feature, whenever your supported iPad or iPhone detects that your device is less than 12 inches from your eyes, you see an alert reminding you to move the iPad or iPhone further away from your face. Screen Distance iPhone too close

Once you move it beyond that 12 minutes, it alerts you again and allows you to continue doing whatever you were doing–press the Continue button. Screen Distance OK on iPhone and iPad

How to turn off Screen Distance for iPad and iPhone

Okay, now, if you don’t want this feature after all, it’s easy to turn it off by reversing the above steps.

  1. Open the Settings app and tap Screen Time on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Under Limit Usage, tap Screen Distance.
  3. Toggle Screen Distance off. That’s it! iPhone and iPad Screen Time turn screen distance off

Apple’s continuing focus on vision health and wellness

We love that Apple continues to take vision health seriously. As more and more of the world’s population adopt mobile technology that relies on-screen interactions, the consequence is that many more people experience vision issues related to time spent on those screens.

So it’s good to know that Apple is trying to help preserve eye wellness, especially for children who grow up as day-one consumers of screen-based technology.

What do you think of Apple’s Screen Distance feature? Is this something that helps you or your family members, or is it just another nag screen to disrupt you? Let us know in the comments below

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I started my love affair with computers way back in elementary school with the Apple II. Since then, I've worked with technology in my career as a media educator and videomaker. I have an MFA in media making from Temple University, where I also taught undergrads as an adjunct faculty member. Additionally, I was a writer, content producer, and editor on the popular tech blog AppleToolBox. So I know a thing or two about teaching others and creating how-to guides! After a cancer diagnosis, I turned to mobile technology like my Apple Watch to help me monitor my health throughout my chemotherapy treatment and later, to regain my wellness once in remission. I love sharing how to understand and use mobile tech, like smartwatches and phones, as a tool for empowerment to live our best and healthiest lives! Connect with me on LinkedIn!

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