Discipline, Not Control: How to Limit Screen Time on iPhone for Child

If your child has an iPhone, it’s likely you’re keen to find ways to limit the time they spend staring at their screen. It’s easy for everyone—and kids especially—to lose track of time when on their phones, which can be detrimental to their schoolwork, social life, sleep, and even mood.

There are some easy steps to take to prevent your child from accessing inappropriate online content, for example, ensuring your own device has a password-protected lock screen. This will help prevent your phone from being used by your child without your knowledge. Further, having open, honest discussions with your kid about the potential dangers of the online world is a crucial element of keeping them safe.

We’ve got all the information you need below to help ensure your child enjoys a healthy balance of screen and “real” time, including how to use the iPhone’s parental controls.


Key Points


Whether you want to protect your kids from viewing explicit content, limit how much time you spend on social media, or even make sure that your mini multiplayer games fan doesn’t get eye strain from all their virtual adventuring, taking steps to reduce or rebalance screen time is the answer.

Here are the steps to take to limit or control the amount of time your family members spend on their Apple iPhone screens:

  1. Ensure your Apple ID and password aren’t known by your child.
  2. Check the settings on your child’s account and turn on parental controls to filter or block inappropriate content, apps, and sites as necessary.
  3. Active the Screen Time and Downtime features on your and your child’s iPhone.
  4. Use a parental control app to, for example, choose apps your child can access via an allowed apps list, view information on their most used apps, receive real-time reports, get notifications based on specific searches, and set content privacy restrictions.
  5. Designate allowed iCloud contacts to limit who your child can communicate with via phone calls and text messages.
  6. Speak openly with your child about the potential dangers of the online world, and how to stay safe from them

What is Screen Time on an iPhone?

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The Screen Time feature was unveiled when the iOS 12 was launched. Using this feature, you can monitor how much time you’ve spent on your phone and manage your and your children’s daily screen time on different apps. As an alternative, you could use the Downtime feature to limit access to just a few apps.

These features and tools were enhanced and expanded when the iOS 13 was unveiled. Several new actions are now possible, including limiting access to content by grouping apps, websites, and app categories and receiving weekly graph reports on your children’s screen time. With this, you can effectively help ensure your child’s safety while using their device and guard against tech addiction.

By upgrading to iOS 13.3 or higher, you can even control who can contact you and your kids via calls, SMS, or any video calling applications. This keeps you and your children safe from spam messages, malicious calls, and the like.

How to Use Apple’s Screen Time on iPhone or iPad?

If you’re not a digital whizz or a techy person, then you may be wondering how to set up the iPhone Screen Time. This is a great way to eliminate the pleas of “one more minute!” from the kids when you tell them it’s time to get off their screens and do something else.

To help you out, here are the things you can do on the app together with a step-by-step process to turn on Screen Time and get started with the parental controls.

How to Check Screen Time on iPhone?

If you haven’t enabled the Screen Time feature yet, here’s how to do it:

  1. First, have your iPhone updated to iOS 13.3 or higher. You can check by going to Settings > General > About. If version 13.3 is on the list, then you’re good to go. If not, then go back to the General page, select Software Update, and install the latest iOS update.
  2. Go to Settings, Screen Time, and enable this feature. Read what’s presented to you on the screen, then tap Continue. You will then be asked if the update is for you or your child. Select the option that applies.
  3. Create a passcode if you want by clicking on the Use Screen Time Passcode.
  4. If you have more than one iPhone, you may want to turn on the Share Across Devices feature to track your activity on all of these gadgets.

To check your or your kid’s hours spent on the screen, the Screen Time app can be found in the iPhone settings. On the main screen, turn on Screen Time, and, you’ll be shown a daily average count at the top of the screen in the form of a graph. This graph shows how much time the phone owner spent online on that day.

If the amount of screen time surprises you and you’d like to drill down further, just below the graph, you will find a See All Activity button. This shows you a breakdown of all the apps used during this period and the length of time they were used.

How to Limit Screen Time on iPhone?

In today’s world, many people have become overly dependent on their devices. Screen time quickly adds up, and we spend on all sorts of non-essential online activities such as social media.

If you want to create a healthier balance, you can track your and your children’s digital usage through Screen Time. Here are the steps to limiting Screen Time on iPhone:

Turn On Downtime

The Downtime feature is used to set certain time periods when you won’t use your phone. It’s often a good idea to set these times for during the evening when it’s time for sleep and during the hours of work or school. When this feature is enabled, only pre-designated apps will open.

Here is how to create a Downtime on your iPhone:

  1. Navigate to Settings, Screen Time.
  2. In Screen Time, tap on Downtime, then turn the toggle on by tapping it. You will know that it’s enabled when the switch turns green.
  3. Set the time for when you want Downtime to start and end in the relevant areas.
  4. Next, return to Screen Time, tap options in Settings, and select the Always Allowed button. This will open a page with a list of apps automatically enabled for use even during Downtime—phone, messages, maps, and FaceTime included.
  5. If you want certain applications to be allowed even during Downtime, scroll through the app list and click on the green plus icon to make it an Allowed app. To remove it, click the red button on the left side.

Set App Limits on App Categories

This feature prevents users from using entire categories of apps for extended periods of time. Basically, this reminds the user when they’ve gone over the designated time limit for a particular app. However, it does allow a minimal extension to this time, or you can simply ignore it.

Here is how to set app limits to app categories:

  1. Go to Settings, Screen Time, and tap turn on App Limits. Upon doing so, you’ll be brought to a screen with an Add Limit button; select this.
  2. Now you will see a list of app categories on the screen. To select, click on one of the circles on the left of a particular category. When finished, click on Add in the upper right corner to proceed.
  3. Next, use the wheel to set a time limit for every app category you’ve added. You can choose from a few minutes to hours.
  4. Return to the App Limits page, and you’ll see new limits on the list. To make changes, tap on these limits and make the necessary alterations. To delete, select the red Delete Limit button.

Instead of setting app limits for app categories, you may also apply different limits for specific apps only. Here are the steps to do so:

  1. Scroll down the Screen Time page until you find the Most Used section. Select this, and you should see a list of applications that you use most frequently.
  2. Choose the app you want to set a timer for, then click on the Add Limit button at the bottom of the screen.
  3. Use the wheel to set the number of minutes or hours you’re “allowed” to use the app.
  4. Afterward, click on the Add button in the upper right corner of your screen, and you should now see a new limit on the limit list.

Set A Screen Time Passcode

If you want to keep your Screen Time information secure and private, then you may want to set up a Screen Time Passcode for your app. To do so, here are the steps:

  1. On Screen Time, tap on the blue-colored Use Screen Time Passcode at the bottom of the page.
  2. Create a passcode and re-enter it twice to confirm.

How to Establish Content and Privacy Restrictions?

This feature allows you to control what content you or your children can access including websites, media, and apps. This way, you can protect your children from sensitive, inappropriate, and adult content.

Here is how to set content and privacy restrictions:

  1. On the Settings, Screen Time page, tap Content and Privacy Restrictions and turn it on.
  2. Next, click on iTunes and App Store Purchases to either block or enable app installation, deletion, and purchases—this can prevent your kids from inadvertently (or deliberately!) buying updates for games. You may also require a passcode for in-app purchases if preferred.
  3. Go back to the Content and Privacy Restrictions page and open the Allowed Apps. When opened, you should see a list of enabled apps on the screen. Turn off the apps you want to disable, and the app will completely disappear from the Home Screen. Turning it on again will return it to the home screen.
  4. Now return to the previous page and select Content Restrictions. Make the necessary restrictions based on different criteria, such as movie ratings available on the iStore and the like. The Web Content feature allows you to block access to adult websites. To delete certain sites, just drag the name to the left and click Delete.
  5. Lastly, the Allow Changes section gives you the ability to set limits on phone volume, cellular data usage, etc.

Best Apps for Screen Time Control

Aside from the iPhone’s Screen Time feature, there are also many available apps on the iStore to control screen time. Here are some of the best apps to use for this:


The Findmykids app

One of the best apps of its kind for parents, providing online and offline child safety features and tools. In addition to accurate geolocation, LIVE-listening, and many other functions from the “real world”, Findmykids displays a list of applications your child uses and the time spent in them. This allows you to understand exactly how your child is using their device, and keep them safe from adult and inappropriate content.

You can download the app right now from the AppStore.


Kids360 app

Kids360 appAs an effective way to get kids off their phones, the Kids360 app is hard to beat. Use this app to set screen time limits for your child (including for games and other apps), block inappropriate content, and set schedules, so they can stay focused on learning, resting, and having fun in the real world.

Try the Kids360 app right now from the AppStore.


This tool blocks apps and websites that can cause distraction during work or study hours, including social media, online shopping, or news media. Use the screen time settings to stay in control of your kid’s online viewing.


Keep digital time under control and manage your household’s “digital diet” with ZenScreen. Use this tool to assess screen time, and set “digital timeouts” for mealtimes and the like.


This one is for parents who want to set schedules for family members, block certain apps, and detect sensitive media on their children’s devices. With FamiSafe, you can block specific content don’t want your children to access. Family location and geofencing tools are also included.


DinnerTime reminds users when it’s time to get off their gadgets and do something else like study, eat meals, etc. It also displays when the iPad will be ready for use again.


Allowing the user to manage screen time, block inappropriate content, and build healthier online habits. Qustodio will also enable you to monitor online activity and set time limitations for apps and game usage.

Read also How to Block and Restrict Apps on iPhone: A Step-by-Step Guide.

iPhone Screen Time for Discipline, Not Control


Overall, the iPhone Screen Time feature is a highly recommended feature for those struggling with tech addiction and for parents who want to monitor their children’s screen time. However, it is also important to remember that the Screen Time feature has its limits. Discipline and the teaching of good online habits play vital roles, too.

Teaching your kids the importance of online safety and healthy balance, when it comes to screen time, is one of the most effective ways to ensure they steer clear of danger and avoid tech addiction. To do this, you could set a reward system to encourage your children to limit their screen usage. You may also introduce them to other hobbies and sports to help keep them engaged with the real world. By doing this, your kids have the best chance of enjoying a perfectly balanced digital and real-world life.

Got your iPhone right beside you? Then it may be the best time to start checking your screen time right now!


Why can my child ignore the Screen Time limit on the iPhone?

There are several ways that a child may be able to bypass the Screen Time limit on an iPhone—such as by finding out and using their parent’s Apple ID and password—to access more screen time. To prevent your child from ever being able to get around the Screen Time limits you’ve set, head to Screen Time Settings and switch the “block at end of limit” toggle to On.

How do I control my child’s iPhone from my device?

There are several ways to control your child’s device from your own. You can alter the settings on the devices, install the Kids360 parental control app, turn on Screen Time, or set up Family Sharing on your iPhone, for example. Some apps allow you to set communication limits, too. Communication limits mean you can determine who your child can have phone calls with, for example, or contact via FaceTime, Messages, and iCloud. Specific contacts may be added or blocked.

How can I monitor my child’s iPhone for free?

Activating Screen Time lets you monitor your kid’s usage for free. Plus, many parental control apps, including most of the options listed above, are free to use, allowing you a convenient, affordable means of monitoring your kid’s iPhone.

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