How to Set Parental Controls on MacBook: A Comprehensive Guide

MacBook's parental controls settings are essential for managing and monitoring your children's activities and online content. With the help of Screen Time, you can restrict web and in-app purchases, control video access, manage allowed websites, set gaming hours, and regulate the content your children can view. In this article, we will explore how to set up parental controls using Screen Time on a MacBook and learn about its functionalities.

Setting Up Family Sharing on MacBook

Before customizing parental controls, it is important to set up Family Sharing on your MacBook. This involves adding a child account to your Apple ID, enabling you to set up parental controls and monitor your child's activities. Here's a step-by-step guide:

  1. Go to the Apple menu located on the top-left corner of your desktop.
  2. Click on System Settings.
  3. Select your Name at the top of the sidebar. If not, click on Sign in to your Apple ID.
  4. Open Family Sharing on the right.
  5. Click on Add Member.
  6. Add another Adult Member by clicking on Invite People or choose Create Child Account to add your child to your Family Group.
  7. Click on Family on the left sidebar.
  8. Customize the Family Checklist, share Subscriptions, enable Purchase Sharing, and set up Location Sharing with your family members.

Now that you have understood the basics of setting up Family Sharing, let's explore how to enable parental controls for your child.

How to Set Parental Controls on MacBook

Setting parental controls for your child involves various aspects such as limiting screen time, enabling downtime, setting app limits, and more. To begin, you need to enable Screen Time for the Child account. Follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Apple menu and open System Settings.
  2. Scroll down and click on Screen Time on the left sidebar.
  3. Select the child account from the list on the right.
  4. Click on Set Up Screen Time for Your Child and follow the on-screen instructions to complete the setup.

During the setup process, you can directly add content restrictions, set screen distance limits, enable parental locks, and more. If needed, you can also enable Screen Time without specific restrictions and customize them later.

To further customize parental controls, follow these steps:

  1. Click on Apps & Website Activity and open it.
  2. Choose Turn on Apps & Website Activity to access all the available parental control options.

1. Set up a Downtime Schedule

Downtime allows you to control and monitor your child's device usage during specific hours. To enable Downtime:

  1. Once you have enabled Screen Time, click on Downtime.
  2. Enable Downtime.
  3. Click on the Schedule menu and choose between Everyday or Custom.
  4. Customize the timing for each day of the week or select a specific time period.

By setting up Downtime, you can limit your child's screen time or app usage daily, ensuring a healthy balance.

2. App and Website Limit

You can set time limits for individual apps and websites using Screen Time on your MacBook. This feature allows you to control access to specific apps and block websites with inappropriate content. Here's how you can do it:

  1. Go to the Apple menu and open System Settings.
  2. Navigate to Screen Time and open App Limits.
  3. Enable App Limits.
  4. Click on Add Limit.
  5. Select the app or website you want to limit and set a time restriction.

You can also choose to block entire app categories or restrict access to specific websites.

3. Always Allowed

The Always Allowed feature allows you to select specific apps or contacts that are accessible at all times, even during downtime. Here's how you can set it up:

  1. Open Always Allowed below the Limit Usage section.
  2. Under Allowed Apps, enable the toggle for the desired apps.
  3. Choose between Everyone or Specific Contacts under the During Downtime section.

This feature ensures that vital apps and contacts are always available to your child, even during restricted hours.

4. Enable Screen Distance

With the new macOS Sonoma update, you can enable the Screen Distance feature, which alerts your child if they hold their iPhone or iPad too close to their face. Note that this feature is only available for iPhones and iPads. Here's how to enable it:

  1. Open Screen Distance under the Limit Usage section.
  2. Follow the on-screen instructions to enable Screen Distance.

This feature helps promote healthy device usage habits and encourages your child to maintain an appropriate distance while using their iPhone or iPad.

5. Set Communication Limits

Screen Time also allows you to control and limit communication, including phone calls, FaceTime calls, and messages. You can choose who your child can communicate with during screen time and downtime. Follow these steps:

  1. Open Communication Limits under the Communication menu list.
  2. Customize the settings under the During Screen Time and During Downtime sections.

These settings ensure that your child can only communicate with approved contacts during specific periods, providing a safe and controlled environment.

6. Communication Safety

Communication Safety is another parental control feature available in Screen Time. It allows you to restrict explicit images and videos from being sent or viewed on your child's MacBook. When enabled, such content will be blurred, and warnings will be displayed. Here's how to enable it:

  1. Open Communication Safety.
  2. Enable the Communication Safety option.

By enabling Communication Safety, you can protect your child from explicit content and promote a safer online experience.

7. Content and Privacy

To prevent your child from accessing explicit content, making unauthorized purchases, or changing critical settings, you can customize the Content and Privacy settings. Here's what you can do:

  1. Open Content & Privacy on the right sidebar.
  2. Enable Content & Privacy.
  3. Explore the options available, such as Content Restrictions, Store Restrictions, App Restrictions, and Preference Restrictions.
  4. Customize each section according to your preferences.

By making changes to the Content and Privacy settings, you can ensure that your child is protected from inappropriate content and cannot make unauthorized changes.

Responsible Parenting

Setting up and customizing parental controls is crucial in today's digital age, where children have access to various online content. By limiting screen time, controlling app usage, and ensuring a safe browsing experience, you can promote responsible device usage and protect your child's well-being. Remember, you can always adjust these settings as needed or switch them off in the future. Take advantage of the powerful parental control features available on your MacBook and ensure a safe and controlled environment for your child's online activities.