Guided Access to the Rescue: Using Your Apple iPad’s Built-In Time Limit Function to Manage Your Kids’ Device Use

Today’s kids are more tech-savvy than ever, and an entire generation of children are currently growing up having never known life without mobile devices and ubiquitous internet access. Unfortunately, that also means a huge number of kids are spending hours each day with their eyes glued to phones and tablets.

If you’re a parent with an iPad in the house, you’ve almost certainly dealt with the frustration of trying to peel your child away from it. Giving them time limits might help, but unless you’re closely monitoring them, the odds are they’ll lose track of time and keep on playing or watching long after they’re supposed to be doing their homework or getting ready for bed.

That’s where Apple’s “guided access” feature can be an absolute godsend. Guided access allows you to set hard time-limits on your iPad that can’t be overridden without a password. That means when your kid’s time is up, it’s up — and the tablet itself becomes the bad guy instead of you!

It’s a great feature because over time your kids learn to accept it, and eventually, when the clock runs out, they’ll just put the tablet down and move on.

Here are the steps to follow to enable guided access and time limits on your iPad:

Step One: Click on the gear icon or ask Siri to open settings, tap on “General” in the left-hand menu, then find and tap “Accessibility” on the right-hand side:

Step Two: Once in the accessibility menu tap “Guided Access” under the “Learning” heading:

Step Three: In the guided access menu, slide the guided access slider to the right to enable it, and then tap “Time Limits”:

Step Four: Set the alarm sound and enable the “Speak” feature. This will allow the iPad to make an audible announcement when the time is about to expire.


Guided access time limits will now be enabled on your device. To access the function and set a time limit, use the following steps:

Step One: With the app your child wants to use open, quickly press the home button three times to bring up the guided access controls at the top and bottom of the screen:

Step Two: In the bottom right corner, tap time limit options and set your desired time limit.

Step Three: Tap the “Start” button in the top right corner to start the clock.

It’s that easy! Once the timer has been started, it’ll tick down until just before it expires, at which point it’ll provide a warning. Once time’s up completely, an overlay will black out the screen explaining that the allowed time has expired.

If you want to allow more time, just triple-press the home button and enter the guided access passcode.

With guided access time limits enabled, you can let your iPad do the policing for you, helping to pre-empt the arguments (or even tantrums) that often result from taking away what has become most kids’ favorite toy. Most importantly, it’ll help your kids avoid the device addiction that so many of today’s youth struggle with. Thanks, Apple!

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