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. 

Parental Controls on Catalina

How to Turn on Screen Time

  1. On your child’s laptop, navigate to Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Screen Time (the hourglass icon).
  2. Click on Options in the bottom-left corner.
  3. Select Turn On.
  4. This will now enable you to view detailed reports about your child’s screen time activity.

How to Turn On Screen Time with Family Sharing

  1. From your laptop, choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Family Sharing.
  2. Click Screen Time, then choose your child's name from the list.
  3. Select the Open Screen Time button to return to Screen Time settings.
  4. Choose your kid's name from the menu in the upper left-hand corner.
  5. Click Options.
  6. Select Turn On.

How to Set Up a Screen Time Passcode

  1. If you want to lock your child’s Screen Time settings so they can’t change them, you’ll need to set up a custom passcode that only you know.
  2. On your child’s laptop, navigate to Apple menu > System Preferences, and then click Screen Time.
  3. Select Options in the lower-left corner.
  4. Click “Use Screen Time Passcode,” then enter your desired passcode.

How to Set Up a Screen Time Passcode With Family Sharing

  1. From your device, navigate to Apple menu > System Preferences, and then click Screen Time.
  2. Select your child's name from the upper-left corner.
  3. Click Options in the lower-left corner.
  4. Click Use Screen Time Passcode then enter your desired passcode.

Limit Usage

There are multiple ways you can manage your child’s screen time while on their Mac, including Downtime, App Limits, Communication, Always Allowed, and Content & Privacy. You can also choose to apply these limits across multiple of your child’s devices, if needed — as long as they’re signed into iCloud.

How to Set Downtime

This setting will make it so that only approved apps will be accessible during selected hours.
  1. Navigate to System Preferences > Screen Time.
  2. From the left toolbar, click Downtime.
  3. Click Turn On if it’s not enabled yet.
  4. Choose your schedule — you can set the same hours for each day or create a custom schedule for different days.

How to Set App Limits

This setting enables you to create healthy boundaries by setting time limits for various apps and functions on your child’s laptop.

  1. Navigate to System Preferences > Screen Time.
  2. From the left toolbar, click App Limits.
  3. Click Turn On if it’s not enabled yet.
  4. Select the + underneath the Limits / Time Amount box.
  5. Choose your schedule — you can set the same hours for each day or create a custom schedule for different days.

How to Manage Communication

The settings you make here will apply limits to Phone, Message, FaceTime, and iCloud contacts. Your child will always be able to make emergency calls.
  1. Navigate to System Preferences > Screen time.
  2. From the left toolbar, click Communication.
  3. Choose who your child is allowed to communicate with during Downtime and Screen Time.

How to Always Allow Apps

This setting will create exceptions, which means your child will always be able to access this content regardless of other settings you put in place. It applies to both app access and communication access.
  1. Navigate to System Preferences > Screen Time.
  2. From the left toolbar, click Always Allowed.
  3. Choose your desired settings.

How to Manage Content & Privacy

Here, you’ll be able to restrict explicit content, purchases, downloads, and privacy settings.
  1. Navigate to System Preferences > Screen Time.
  2. From the left toolbar, click Content & Privacy.
  3. Click Turn On.
  4. From here, you’ll be able to make detailed decisions about what your child can access regarding content, stores, apps, and more.

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