See the amount of time you or your child spends in daylight with an Apple Watch and the Health app

It’s pretty common knowledge that all people, especially kids, are spending too much time indoors these days, usually at school and then at home on their iPhones or iPads, computers, TVs, electronics, and other mobile devices.

Unfortunately, that time spent indoors also means that we aren’t getting enough exercise and are setting ourselves up for health problems either now or later.

And for children and young adults under 20, it’s even worse. Research indicates that when children spend too many hours inside, their eyes fail to grow correctly, and they have a much higher risk of nearsightedness (officially called myopia.)

It’s becoming a silent crisis, with the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the National Eye Institute predicting that half of the world’s population will be nearsighted (myopic) by the end of 2050.

To combat this crisis, eye health research suggests that spending more time outdoors, in daylight, helps reduce this risk of nearsightedness (myopia) in children, adolescents, and young adults and has many other benefits for all people, regardless of age!

Adding more outdoor time is one of the easiest interventions to reduce the risk of developing myopia.

Apple is paying attention to this eye health research and wants to encourage children and adults to spend more time outside.

With watchOS 10+ and iOS 17+, it’s introducing a vision health feature that measures your time and your child’s time spent in daylight using the ambient light sensor on the Apple Watch.

Related reading

Daylight is your superhero! How much do we need Children playing outside with capes

While we all know that sunlight provides humans much needed Vitamin D for bone and muscle health, research indicates that natural daylight does the following:

  • Lowers blood pressure.
  • Boost the immune system.
  • Reduces stress, anxiety, and depression. It improves mood and promotes a sense of well-being.
  • It supports better sleep and helps normalize people’s circadian rhythms in regulating serotonin and melatonin levels.
  • It helps wounds heal.
  • For seniors, it helps combat dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease and improves the quality of life.

Time outside also helps reduce eyestrain from working on something closer, like a screen, by focusing your eyes on distant objects.

It’s hard to strike a good balance between getting enough daylight and ensuring you or your child don’t experience the negative effects of too much daylight, such as sunburn, dehydration, or worse events like heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and skin cancer. Playing soccer outside 3 children

To clarify, you don’t need to be directly in the sun to benefit from natural daylight. You or your child can go outdoors in cloudy conditions or under shade, which still counts as daylight. Or even spend time in a naturally lit room with open and bright windows. 

Also, you and your children can wear sunscreen and still reap the benefits of sunlight. The key to eye health is to get some direct or indirect sunlight each and every day!

How to review your or your child’s Time in Daylight measurements in the Apple Health app on your iPhone and iPad

Time in Daylight requires an Apple Watch that tracks your daylight using its ambient light sensor. That’s the same sensor that changes the brightness of your screen based on the amount of light in your environment.

Since this feature requires an ambient light sensor, you’ll find Time in daylight stats only when you use an Apple Watch Ultra, SE (2nd generation+), or Series 6 and above.

Models like the Series 4 or 5 do not include an ambient light sensor, so you won’t see any Time in Daylight info in the Health app when wearing these models.

You review the amount of time spent in daylight that’s detected by your Apple Watch in the Health app in iOS 17+ and iPadOS 17+.

If your child does not have their own iPhone and you set it up with Apple’s Family Setup for Apple Watch, you can check how much time your kids spend in daylight by sharing your child’s health data via Health Sharing

  1. On your iPhone, open the Health app.
  2. If you want to review your Time in Daylight, tap the Browse tab. To review your child or someone else in your family, like an older parent who uses an Apple Watch without an iPhone, tap the Sharing tab. Tabs for Apple Health app at the bottom
  3. Select Mental Wellbeing. Browse categories in Apple Health app
  4. Tap Time in Daylight. Categories in Mental Wellbeing in Apple Health app including time in daylight
  5. You can choose to see the data by day, week, month, 6 months, or year. You’ll see an average time per day at the top for this period. Time in daylight by week in Apple Health app
  6. To learn more about Time in Daylight, scroll down.

Not seeing Time in Daylight information in the Apple Health app?

If you don’t see anything for Time in Daylight, make sure you update your iPhone/iPad and Apple Watch(s) to iOS and iPadOS 17+ and watchOS 10+.

Remember that your Apple Watch must include an ambient light sensor available on models: Apple Watch Ultra, SE (2nd generation), and Apple Watch Series 6 and later.

Also, your Apple Watch must be exposed to the sun and not covered by a shirt, jacket, etc., so the ambient light sensor can capture daylight time information.

So, if you wear long-sleeved shirts, lift the sleeve so it sits above the watch and doesn’t cover the screen.

Manually add an entry to Time in Daylight

If needed, you can add a manual entry to time in daylight when you forget to wear your watch, cover your watch with a shirt, or still don’t see any data for this metric.

If you wear your watch outside, with the screen exposed, and still don’t see any data for time in daylight, adding a manual entry often kick starts the feature and gets it working.

  1. Open the Health app > Browse > Mental Wellbeing > Time in Daylight.
  2. Tap Add Data at the top. Apple Health app manually add data like time in daylight
  3. Add your start and end times for time spent outdoors, then tap Add at the top to save it. Manually add start and end times for Apple Health data

Final thoughts

One of the best benefits of Time in Daylight is the opportunity to get outdoors, enjoy the fresh air, and maybe combine your outdoor time with your play time or exercise time. 

Along with this Time in Daylight feature, Apple continues to help its users monitor their vision health with features like Screen Distance that warns you when you hold your iPhone or iPad too close to your eyes for too long.

The warning detects when the distance between your eyes and your iPhone/iPad is less than 12 inches and uses the TrueDepth camera to determine when to trigger these alerts (that’s the same technology that Face ID uses.). 

You can also add your vision prescription to Apple Health and update it as your vision changes.


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