How to Set Up Screen Time on Your Child's iPhone

Monitor and limit your child's iPhone usage.
2 minutes

Screen time comes with some great features that allow you to track and limit your iPhone usage. For people like me, who tend to find themselves scrolling through Instagram for longer than they intended right before bedtime, it's a lovely way to hold yourself accountable and can be a bit of a wake-up call for how often you use your iPhone. However, the goal of screen time is to help you unplug when you need to so that you can boost productivity, while still enjoying your iPhone.

However, for those of you that have children, it can be especially difficult to know what they are using their iPhones for, how long they are using them, and how much time is going to the tasks they are supposed to be doing such as chores and homework. Screen time can also be enabled on your child's iPhone so that you can help them be accountable for their time and manage what they have access to.

You can schedule downtime (time where your child cannot use their iPhone), app limits, and even restrict content based on ratings to make sure they aren't watching anything you would rather they not. Let me give you a rundown of some of the screen time features you can use to manage your child's iPhone with screen time.

Screen time features

  • Weekly reports- Weekly reports of your child's iPhone usage per the apps, app types, and hours spent using them.
  • Downtime- Downtime is a feature you have to manually turn on during the setup process that allows you to schedule downtime (time away from the screen) on certain days at certain times (of your choosing). This allows your child to unplug at specific times of the day. You can even set your child's iPhone to be unusable during these times, like bedtime for example.
  • App limits- You can limit all apps, specific apps, or even all apps of a certain type (like gaming apps). You can set the limits you prefer for your child. If your kid loves to play mobile games, you can allow them a certain amount of time. They can then make requests when they've reached that time limit.
  • Communication limits- If you notice your child spends too much time iMessaging with friends instead of getting homework done, you can limit the amount of time they are allowed to communicate via FaceTime, Messages, and the Phone app. You can even set it to only allow specific contacts, such as yourself or other family members.
  • Content and privacy restrictions- There is a ton you can do with content and privacy restrictions. For example, you can decide to restrict all the content your child views or listens to, such as movies and music, to fit into a G, PG, PG-13, R, or NC-17 rating. You can also restrict the iTunes and App Store to avoid unwanted purchases. You can also restrict specific websites.
  • Screen time passcode- Your screen time passcode is usually the same as your iPhone passcode by default, but when setting up screen time for your child, you will create a unique code that they don't know so that only you can make changes to screen time settings.

In this guide, I show you how to enable screen time on your child's iPhone.

Note: These steps can be completed on other iOS or iPadOS devices as well, though steps may slightly vary. Steps may also vary slightly depending on your iOS version, so make sure you are up to date before continuing.

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Open Settings

First, on your child's iPhone, open the Settings application. It can be found on your home screen, often in the utilities folder.

Click "Screen Time"

Click "screen time" so that we can turn on screen time.

Click "Turn on Screen Time"

Click "turn on screen time," and move to the next step.

Click "This is My Child's iPhone"

Click "this is my child's iPhone."

Click "Continue"

Next, review the information given. It tells you a bit about how screentime works on a managed device (child's iPhone). Then, click "continue."

Set up Downtime

When you are setting up screen time on your child's iPhone, you will automatically be prompted to set up several different screen time features during the setup process. Try to avoid skipping these steps.

Instead, choose your child's downtimes. Perhaps, you want the child to not use their iPhone from bedtime, until after breakfast, then set the times similar to what I've chosen here. Otherwise, think about the timeframe you would like your child to unplug to focus on other tasks, homework, or family time. Then, put in the timeframe you prefer. Keep in mind that this is a daily reoccurrence.

Then, click continue.

Decide on App Limits

Now, decide on any limitations you may or may not want to set on your child's iPhone. Maybe, your child tends to play a lot of mobile games. If so, choose "games." Alternatively, your child may spend a lot of time on social like Snapchat apps. If so, choose social. Whatever the case, choose the apps you are wanting to limit each day. If you need to, you can choose "show all categories" to find what you are looking for.

Then, click "set" to enter an hour amount. For example, if you only want your kid on social media for two hours each day, choose that amount of time. Your child can then request more time within the app when the two hours are met and a message will be sent to your iPhone asking for that permission. You can, of course, accept or decline the request.

Click "Set App Limit"

Next, click "set app limit," to finalize it.

Click "Continue"

Review the content and privacy features specific to a managed device (the child's iPhone).

Create a Screen Time Passcode

Now, choose a screen time passcode. This should not be a passcode your child knows or can guess. Try not to forget this passcode to avoid running into issues in the future.

You will be asked to enter your new screen time passcode twice just to confirm.

Enter in Your Apple ID and Password

Now, enter in your Apple ID and password so that you can use it to create a new screen time passcode if you do forget it at some point.


Done! Screen time is set up and good to go.

Now, wait 24 hours before reviewing the screen time activity. Let your child use the iPhone per the usual for the next day so that you can get the most accurate reading of their activity.

To check their screen time activity follow the steps below:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click "screen time."
  3. Review the activity. I prefer to click "see all activity," and view it there.
Turn on screen time to see how long you really spend browsing!
1 minute

Screen Time, which came out with iOS 12, is a handy feature that helps you understand and limit your iPhone usage.