How to Set Up Screen Time Parental Control on Your iPhone & iPad

* This post is part of iPhone Life's Tip of the Day newsletter. . *

We all want our kids to avoid screen addiction and be safe online, but that can be hard to accomplish when children have open access to the internet via their iPhone or iPad. Fortunately, Apple's Screen Time parental controls are easy and free to use. In the past you might have had to pay for iPad or iPhone parental control apps to make sure inappropriate content wasn't getting through on your kids' devices, but not anymore. Learn how to set up Screen Time settings on your child's iPhone and iPad, and how to lock those settings so your curious kids can't access the content you've blocked.

Related: 8 Tips for Raising Healthy Kids in the Age of Screens

This tip will only work if you have Family Sharing set up. It allows you to set up Parental Controls even if you don't have physical access to your child's device. You can also set up Parental Controls right from your child's iPhone or iPad without setting up Family Sharing.  

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Scroll down and tap on Screen Time.

  3. Tap on your child's name under Family.
  4. Tap Turn On Screen Time.
  5. Tap Continue.

  6. You can choose to set Downtime, or tap Not Now to do it later.
  7. Now you can set app limits for specific categories, or tap Not Now to do it later. 

You'll want to set a passcode now so the settings you put in place can't be changed. Make sure it's something you won't forget, but also something your child won't guess!

  1. Tap Use Screen Time Passcode, enter a passcode, then re-enter to confirm.
  2. Once you've set up Screen Time on your child's device, you'll be able to monitor things like how much time they've spent on their iPhone or iPad, and on which apps. 
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In later tips, we'll go over how to set up content-related controls, as well as limits on app purchases, and much more. 

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Author Details

Leanne Hays's picture

Author Details

Leanne Hays

Leanne Hays is a Feature Writer at iPhone Life, and has written hundreds of in-depth how-to and troubleshooting articles. She's a former Associate Editor for iPhone Life magazine, and has written for the Iowa Source, as well as web content for education marketing. Leanne has an associate's degree in education, with a focus on curriculum development, as well as a bachelor's degree in science. She has over nine years of experience with SEO, social media management, and web development and writing. Despite years of web work, Leanne is by no means an early adapter; she's only owned a smartphone for five years, which makes her highly sympathetic to the learning curve of new iPhone owners. She enjoys making reader's lives easier and putting her education experience to work by walking them through the most practical ways to use Apple devices, step-by-step.

In off-work hours, Leanne is a mother of two, homesteader, audiobook fanatic, musician, and learning enthusiast.