Having children in the age of technology presents parents with a myriad of new challenges, especially during the holiday season when kiddos may get an iPad or an iPhone as a gift. 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. Here's how to set up Screen Time for your child so you can be sure they're enjoying their new tech responsibly.

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

There are two ways you can set up Screen Time controls for your child. One is to create an Apple ID for them through Family Sharing, a feature that allows all members of a family to 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.


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.