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Parents Guide to Apple Arcade

It’s been quite the challenge keeping the kids stimulated and well…burning their energy this year, because #Covid19, but Apple Arcade games has helped. From one parent to another, here’s the parents guide to Apple Arcade!

Back up…what is Apple Arcade?

Apple Arcade is Apple’s gaming subscription, which offers access to 100+ (probably more now) games for $4.99/month. We started with a 30-day free trial then did the annual pricing of $49.99 for the savings.

They also recently announced a new Apple One subscription bundle that includes Apple Arcade, Apple TV+, Apple Music and more, for $14.95/month. I gotta say that I’m tempted since we already use 4 out of 6 of the services. I’ll drop an update here if I do decide to get the Apple One.

What this parent likes about Apple Arcade

Family sharing and saved progress across devices

Anyway, back to Apple Arcade. Even though not every game is a hit with M (8) and E (4), I have to admit it’s pretty good for families who enjoy gaming together and pretty cost-effective since one subscription allows access for up to six family members.

Since we own a few Apple devices, I’ve really enjoyed being able to start my game on my iPhone, switch to my Mac when I’m er…working at my desk and then swapping back to my iPhone when I’m lounging in bed before sleep, all without losing my progress.

Parents Guide to Apple Arcade: family sharing and saved progress across devices

No Ads! NO ADS IN APPLE ARCADE!

Personally as a gamer dad, the best part about Apple Arcade is the absence of ads. You don’t realize how aggravating they are and how we’ve acclimatized to them until you play a mobile game that has none!

And of course…no loot boxes, aggressive pop-ups and pushes for in-app purchases, and no chats with randoms.

Safety has always been my biggest concern since M starting gaming and it’s such a load off knowing that I don’t need to constantly monitor the screens when M and E are at it.

Before Apple Arcade came along, I tried getting some f2p games from the App Store for the kids.. While some of these games seemed fun and were cute, my major issue was that they had tons of ads, and inappropriate ones too.

Like Talking Tom – it’s meant for kids but has nonstop ads and prompts for in-app purchases. Since E kept tapping the ads masked as cute gift boxes, he had to wait a looooooong time for the videos to play or come to me to get it sorted.

Talking Tom 2 Game
Bad cat! Also the amount of push notifications you get from this game…this cat is needy AF

Anyway, the constant interruptions made E frustrated, and he eventually gave up the game, which is a good thing because I secretly deleted it after having to explain an ad for a realistic sniper game.

Now that you’ve heard the good of it, let’s get to them guides.


Parents Guide to Apple Arcade: How I share my subscription with the rest of the fam

To share my Apple Arcade Subscription with the real boss of the household R and the kids, I set up Family Sharing on my iPhone. Family Sharing is automatically prompted once you’ve successfully purchased the Apple Arcade subscription and the set-up was fairly easy. I specifically created Child Accounts for M and E. Though they don’t own any Apple device, M generally uses the family iPad and we let E use an old(er) iPhone for throwing/dropping on the floor/gaming.

Anyway, here are the 5 steps to enable Family Sharing on your iPhone:

Step 1. Open Settings and tap your name

Step 2. Tap Set Up Family Sharing

Step 3. Tap Start Sharing

Step 4. Invite up to five family members via iMessage. You’ll need to create an account (Apple ID) for your kid, which seems troublesome but it’s worth it for parental controls, which I’ll cover in the next section.

Step 5. Wait for them to accept the invite and get ready to rumble!

Once Family Sharing is all done, all members in the group will be able to download games from Apple Arcade on their devices.

Parent Tip:

  • Family Sharing also allows me to locate other devices from any device in the family group using Find my iPhone. It’s already come in handy a few times when E misplaced the old iPhone
  • The Ask To Buy feature means kids under 18 have to ask for permission before purchasing content. The family organizer aka moi can accept or deny requests remotely

Parents Guide to Apple Arcade: How to set up Parental Controls

Controlling what games M and E can download is very important to me. I don’t want them to be exposed to violent games or apps that contain ‘awkward-to-explain’ stuff. (And most definitely no TikTok…)

This is the best reason to set up a Child Account, even if it’s the only one.

Here’s how I use the Parental Controls on the iPhone to restrict apps:

Step 1. Tap and open Settings

Step 2. Tap Screen Time

Step 3. Select the Family Member (Child) on Family Sharing

Step 4. Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions

Step 5. Tap Content Restrictions

Step 6. Tap Apps

Step 7. Choose the Highest Age Rating to allow on the kid’s device (I chose 9+ for M and 4+ for E, but you do you).

Parents Guide to Apple Arcade: Set age limits to restrict apps your kids can download
I took this image from iMore cause it’s nicer than what I had.. Thanks iMore.

Parents Guide to Apple Arcade: How to monitor Screen Time and curate games

I use Screen Time to monitor how long the kids have been playing for. Here’s how I check on their weekly activity:

Step 1. Tap and open Settings

Step 2. Tap Screen Time

Step 3. Select the Family Member (Child) on Family Sharing

Step 4. Tap See All Activity

Step 5. Explore Total Screen Time, Most Used Apps, etc.

Parents guide to Apple arcade: Screen time for the win

Parent Tip:

  • Use this to monitor time spent and also curate games for your kids!
  • I check out what type of games M and E like and are reaaaally into, and find similar games. Like Netflix, but dad.

Parents Guide to Apple Arcade: How to set time limits on games

If you want to set time limits for specific games and apps, you can, though I haven’t felt the need to set daily time limits on M and E. However, for the sake of making this the true ULTIMATE guide, I’ve explored the App Limits function to figure out how things work.

Here’s how I would use Screen Time on my iPhone to set App Limits for the kids (the first three steps are the exact same ones from before):

Step 1. Tap and open Settings

Step 2. Tap Screen Time

Step 3. Select the Family Member (Child) on Family Sharing

Maybe watch the video, if you’re more a visual person

Step 4. Tap App Limits

Step 5. Tap Add Limit

Step 6. Enter Screen Time Passcode (which I would have already set)

Step 7. Select an App Category or Individual Apps (under their category) which I would like to set usage limits for

Step 8. Tap Next on the top right-hand corner

Step 9. Set a Daily Time Limit.

Parents Guide to Apple Arcade: set different time limits for apps on the weekdays and weekends

Parent Tip: I like that I can customize time limits for different days. We normally let M and E play for a longer time on weekends so this is something we’d use.

Step 10. 0 Block at End of Limit (make sure it’s green) to make sure the app category/ individual app is blocked once the time limit for the day expires (otherwise everything goes to waste)

Parents guide to Apple Arcade: toggle 'Block at End of Limit' to make sure kids can't go over their screen time for each app

Step 11. Finally, tap Add! The kids will only be able to play their games for the specific time limits I have set and after which, they’ll be locked out of those apps.

Want to know which Apple Arcade games to start with? Check out these multiplayer games which we enjoyed playing!

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