How To Set Up Catalina Parental Controls

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Apple’s newest desktop operating system, Catalina (10.15), was released in October 2019. With the introduction of Catalina, Apple replaced the traditional parental controls available on previous versions of macOS, because those features are now included in Screen Time settings. You will not longer see the "Parental Controls" option in System Preferences.


Find out which version of macOS is installed on your device

  1. Click the Apple icon in the top left corner of your screen.
  2. Click About This Mac.
  3. You'll see the macOS name, followed by its version number.

How to Enable Screen Time in Catalina

The easiest way to set up and manage Screen Time by using Family Sharing. When you use Family Sharing, you can remotely manage and monitor each child’s device from your own account on any Mac, iPhone, or iPad.

  • If you’re using Family Sharing: Log in to your account, then make sure you’re signed in with your Apple ID.

  • If you aren’t using Family Sharing: Log in to the child’s account.

  1. Click the Apple icon in the top left corner of your screen.
  2. Click System Preferences.
  3. Click Screen Time.
  4. More information about what Screen Time does will be displayed on your screen. Click Continue. (NOTE: If you have Family Sharing set up on your Mac, click on the pop-menu in the sidebar and select the profile.)
  5. Click Options in the bottom left corner of the screen.
  6. Click Turn On in the top right corner of the screen.
  7. Choose from the following options:
  • Include Website Data: Select this option if you want Screen Time reports to include details about the specific websites visited. If you don’t select this option, websites are just reported as Safari usage.

  • Use Screen Time Passcode: Select this option to keep Screen Time settings from being changed, and to require a passcode to allow additional time when limits expire.


How to Set Up a Downtime Schedule

Downtime is a function of Screen Time that allows you to set a schedule for time away from the screen for your children, such as during meals or at bedtime. If your child tries to access their device during Downtime, they can request more time from you.

  • If you’re using Family Sharing: Log in to your account, then make sure you’re signed in with your Apple ID.

  • If you aren’t using Family Sharing: Log in to the child’s account.

  1. Click the Apple icon in the top left corner of your screen.
  2. Click System Preferences.
  3. Click Screen Time.
  4. Click Downtime in the sidebar.
  5. If Downtime is off, click Turn On in the upper-right corner.
  6. Choose from the following options:
  • Set up the same downtime schedule for every day: Select Every Day, then enter the start and end times.

  • Set up a different downtime for each day of the week: Select Custom, then enter start and end times for each day.


How to Set Time Limits for Apps and Websites

Screen Time allows you to set time limits for apps and websites for your children.

  • If you’re using Family Sharing: Log in to your account, then make sure you’re signed in with your Apple ID.

  • If you aren’t using Family Sharing: Log in to the child’s account.

  1. Click the Apple icon in the top left corner of your screen.
  2. Click System Preferences.
  3. Click Screen Time.
  4. Click App Limits in the sidebar.
  5. If App Limits is off, click Turn On in the upper-right corner.
  6. To create a new app limit, click the Add (+) button.
  7. In the Create a new app limit window, select the checkbox next to each of the apps, categories, or websites that you want to include in the limit.
  8. Choose from the following options:
    • Search for an app, category, or website: Type a name in the search field. The list updates as you type.

    • See the apps in a category: Click the disclosure triangle next to the category.

    • Limit all apps in a category: Select the checkbox next to the category in the list.

    • Limit all apps and categories: Select the checkbox next to the category All Apps & Categories in the list.

    • Limit an individual app: Select the checkbox next to the app in the list.

    • Limit a website: Click the disclosure triangle next to the category Websites. If the website has been visited, it’ll appear in the list below the Website category, and you can select the checkbox next to it. If the website isn’t in the list, click the Add Website button (below the website list), then type the URL for the website.

    • Set up the same app limit for every day: Select Every Day, then enter an amount of time.

    • Set up a different app limit for each day of the week: Select Custom, then enter an amount of time for each day.

  9. Click Done.

How to Choose What Apps Can be Used at Any Time

In Screen Time on Mac, you can specify apps that can be used anytime, even during Downtime, for your children.
  • If you’re using Family Sharing: Log in to your account, then make sure you’re signed in with your Apple ID.

  • If you aren’t using Family Sharing: Log in to the child’s account.

  1. Click the Apple icon in the top left corner of your screen.
  2. Click System Preferences.
  3. Click Screen Time.
  4. Click Always Allowed in the sidebar.
  5. In the list of Allowed Apps, select the checkboxes next to the apps.
  • Search for an app: Type a name in the search field. The list updates as you type.

  • List apps by most used: Choose Sort by Daily Usage to sort the apps from most used to least used.

  • List apps alphabetically: Choose Sort by Name.

  • List selected apps at the top of the list: Choose Sort by State.


How to Set Up Content & Privacy Restrictions

In Screen Time on Mac, you can set restrictions for web content, purchases, apps, and more for your children.
  • If you’re using Family Sharing: Log in to your account, then make sure you’re signed in with your Apple ID.

  • If you aren’t using Family Sharing: Log in to the child’s account.

  1. Click the Apple icon in the top left corner of your screen.
  2. Click System Preferences.
  3. Click Screen Time.
  4. Click Content & Privacy in the sidebar.
  5. If Content & Privacy Restrictions are off, click Turn On.
  6. Choose from the following options:
  • To restrict web content, click Content, then select options.
  • To restrict movies, TV shows, and app purchases, click Stores, then select options.
  • To restrict apps, click Apps, then select options.
  • To lock certain settings, click Other, then select options.

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