Having children in the age of technology presents parents with a myriad of new challenges. One of the largest of these challenges is making sure your loved ones are safe and healthy by limiting the time they spend staring at a screen (as well as what apps and services they can access while they're staring). Thankfully, with the release of iOS 12, Apple introduced Screen Time, a handy way to keep you and your family's phone usage in check.

In iOS 13, Apple added more Screen Time tools for parents. Here's how to set up Screen Time for your child so you can be sure they're enjoying their new tech responsibly.

There are two ways you can set up Screen Time controls for your child: through Family Sharing and directly on a device.

How to set up Screen Time for your child through Family Sharing

With Family Sharing, you create an Apple ID for your kids. In doing so, all members of a family can share their Apple purchases such as apps, music, and books. With Family Sharing, you can set Screen time rules for each individual family member, so you can be certain that everyone has settings that fit their needs and lifestyle.

To add a child account to family sharing, check out our How to create and add a child to Family Sharing article.

After you've added your child's account to Family Sharing, you can control their Screen Time settings by doing the following.

  1. Launch Settings.
  2. Tap on your Apple ID.
  3. Tap Family Sharing.
  4. Tap Screen Time.
  5. Follow the instructions to create your child's Apple ID

How to set up Screen Time for your child directly on a device

Though Family Sharing is a great tool, it isn't for everyone. If you'd prefer not to give your child their own Apple ID just yet and would instead like to set up Screen Time directly on the device your child will use, you can absolutely do that as well. Here's how.

  1. Launch Settings.
  2. Tap Screen Time. You'll see a list of insights that Screen Time provides.
  3. Tap Continue.

  4. Tap This is My Child's iPhone/iPad to set up Screen Time on this device for a child. You can then set a Downtime (i.e. a chunk of time — say, nighttime — when you don't want them using their device).
  5. Tap Start.
  6. Select a start time.
  7. Tap Start again. Do the same for the End time.
  8. Tap Set Downtime to save your settings.

  9. Set your child's App Limits (the amount of time per day that you want your kiddo to spend on certain categories of apps). For instance, if you only want them to spend 30 minutes per day playing games, then tap Games to select that category. Then scroll down to the bottom to where it says Time Amount, enter 30 minutes, then tap Set App Limit. You can set limits on as many individual app categories as you like, or you can set an umbrella time for all apps.

  10. Tap Continue after reviewing Content & Privacy controls.
  11. Create a four-digit Parent Passcode using the numerical keyboard. Your child's device will require this passcode in order to allow for more time or to change any Screen Time settings.
  12. Re-enter the passcode.

That's it! The Screen Time settings on your child's device are now in place. If you ever want to make any changes, all you'll need to do is launch Screen Time using the first two steps in the tutorial above and then enter your Parent Passcode.

What's new with Screen Time?

June 19, 2019: iOS 13 and iPadOS launching this fall

Apple's releasing iOS 13 and iPadOS 13 for iPhone and iPad, respectively.

Screen Time now includes the ability to create communication limits. These limits, which you can set for yourself and your children, apply to Phone, FaceTime, Messages, and AirDrop. In the following examples, the change is made to a child's' account only.

Apple occasionally offers updates to iOS, watchOS, tvOS, and macOS as closed developer previews or public betas for iPhone, iPad, Apple TV and Mac (sadly, no public beta for the Apple Watch). While the betas contain new features, they also contain pre-release bugs that can prevent the normal use of your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, or Mac, and are not intended for everyday use on a primary device. That's why we strongly recommend staying away from developer previews unless you need them for software development, and using the public betas with caution. If you depend on your devices, wait for the final release.

  1. Launch the Settings app on your mobile device.
  2. Tap Screen Time.
  3. Under Family, tap your child's name.

    Screen Time Communication Limits

  4. Select Communication Limits.
  5. Enter your Screen time password, if applicable.
  6. Tap During Allowed Screen TIme
  7. On the next screen, you can decide Allowed Communication is Everyone or Contacts Only.
  8. Tap the Allow Introductions in Groups toggle if you want to allow people to be added to group conversations when someone is already a contact or family.

    screen time communication limits

  9. Tap the Back button at the top left.
  10. Select During Downtime to limit who your child can communicate with during downtime or after app limits have expired.
  11. On the next screen, you can decide Allowed Communication is Everyone or Contacts Only.

    screen time during downtime

  12. Tap the Back button at the top left.
  13. From the Communications Limits screen, tap the Manage (Your Child's Name) Contacts toggle if you'd like to manage their iCloud contacts remotely.
  14. Toggle Allow Contact Editing if you'd like to turn contact editing on/off for your child.

    screen time manage contacts

Screen Time changes in iOS 13 and iPadOS are not yet finalized during the beta process. When both updates are released to the public in the fall, this article will receive an update.

Get your gear

Do you need a new case for your iPhone? Check out these two cases that come with kickstands:

urBeats3 Earphones with Lightning Connector ($60 at Apple)

Apple's partner Beats is releasing new earbuds to match the new colors of the iPhone XR. If you want an upgrade from the EarPods that come packaged with the iPhone but you don't want to go wireless, this is a great option.

Armorbox (iPhone XR) ($20 at Amazon)

From i-Blason, this case features a built-in screen protector and a hands-free kickstand that makes video watching a breeze.

Although these cases are specific for the iPhone XR, they are available for other iPhone models as well.

Questions?

Do you have any further questions about setting up Screen Time on your youngster's new device? Leave them in the comments below and we'll do our best to help you out.

Updated June 19, 2019: Now includes iOS 13 and iPadOS 13 information.

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