How to Turn Kids' Phones Off at Night (or Anytime, Really)
Taking away your kid's phone at night isn't the only way to make sure they get a good night's sleep (and avoid any inappropriate late-night use). You can also enable settings that lock phones from dusk 'til dawn -- or any other time you want to make them unavailable. (Get tips on the best practices for using parental controls.) Here are a few methods to turn off kids' phones at night.
Turn off iPhones
You can cut your kid off by enabling Downtime in the OS. Located in the Screen Time settings, Downtime makes an iPhone more like a regular phone: Kids can still call, text, FaceTime, and use any apps that you allow, such as a music-streaming app. But you can also turn off everything but the calling feature if you wish. You can enable Screen Time on your kid's phone and protect the settings with a pass code, or you can remotely manage your kid's phone by setting everyone up on Family Sharing.
- Go to Settings on your kid's phone.
- Tap Screen Time.
- Tap Use Screen Time Passcode and enter a pass code (this locks the setting so kids can't change it back).
- Tap on Downtime, toggle it on, and set a Start and End Time.
- If you want to turn off messaging and FaceTime during Downtime, go to Screen Time/Always Allowed/Allowed Apps and remove them.
- If you want to manage your kid's phone using your own phone, first set up Family Sharing and then enable Screen Time settings.
Turn off Android phones
Google's Family Link app allows you to schedule a span of time for the phone to be off, such as bedtime. But you can also completely lock the device so kids can't even get into it. Family Link requires two downloads, one for your phone and one for your kid's.
- Download the Family Link for Parents app on your phone (available for iOS or Android).
- Download the Family Link for Children & Teens on your kid's phone (available for Android only).
- On your phone, create a family manager account.
- Once your kid's profile is set up, select Bedtime and set the span of time your kid can't use their phone.
- If you want to completely shut down your kid's device, go to their profile and tap "lock."
Turn off any phone on the network
If you're somewhat tech savvy, you can see if your router software (which you can find on your main home computer) offers the ability to disconnect devices from the network. Otherwise, look to your internet service provider. Some ISPs also offer robust parental controls, such as content filtering, website blocking, and location services, as a built-in feature or a service that you can access through an app. Here's a sampling; if you don't see your carrier, give them a call.
AT&T Secure Family, $7.99/mo.
Offers a full suite of parental controls in addition to letting you disconnect devices. Requires two apps: the AT&T Secure Family app, which you download onto your phone, and the Secure Family Companion App, which you download onto your kid's phone.
Comcast Xfinity XFi, free
Allows you to pause the internet whenever you want as well as schedule a time for the device to disconnect from the network. You can also remotely manage access to other content (for example, videos).
Verizon Smart Family, $9.99/mo; included with Verizon Smart Family phone plan
Offers an array of parental controls. Requires two apps: the Verizon Smart Family, which you download onto your phone, and the Smart Family companion app, which you download onto your kid's phone.