How to Remotely Disable Your Child’s iPhone and Limit Screen Time

Parenting a child with behavioral issues who refuses to hand over their phone can be extremely challenging. As the attached story illustrates, taking away a child’s phone directly can lead to aggressive behaviors. Fortunately, there are ways to remotely limit and disable an iPhone’s functionality without having physical access to the device.

Why Parents Might Need to Limit a Child’s Phone

As described in this Reddit post, the child has “massive behavioral problems” and the parent feels it is unsafe to physically take the phone away. The child apparently becomes violent and assaultive when the phone is directly confiscated. The parent is divorced, and the mother pays for the phone plan, so the father cannot directly cancel service.

Parents might need to limit screen time and functionality when children exhibit:

  • Aggressive behaviors if the phone is taken away
  • Refusal to hand over phone for discipline
  • Inappropriate social media usage
  • Addiction/excessive screen time
  • Poor academic performance

Controlling and limiting the phone remotely prevents behavioral escalations while still enforcing discipline.

Using Parental Controls and Screen Time

If the child’s phone is set up under Family Sharing with a parent as the Organizer, robust remote controls exist.

Set Restrictions in Screen Time

  • Open Settings > Screen Time on parent’s iPhone
  • Select child’s name
  • Select App Limits
  • Set 1 minute limit on all apps to disable functionality

Use Downtime to Disable Apps

  • In Screen Time, select Downtime
  • Set downtime for entire day – like 4AM to 4AM
  • This blacks out the screen during set times

Employ Parental Control Apps

  • Apps like Kidslox, Qustodio, and more allow remote blocking
  • Set app to prevent deletion so child cannot remove

Leveraging Find My iPhone Controls

If you know the child’s Apple ID and password, you can remotely lock the iPhone through Find My iPhone on

  • Sign in to iCloud and select Find My iPhone
  • Select child’s device
  • Click Lost Mode
  • Enter Apple ID password to disable device

With some creative leveraging of parental controls, you can disable an iPhone without ever touching the device. Consult with the other parent if possible and intervene early before behaviors escalate.

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