If you’ve purchased an Apple Watch for your child, you may find that they still receive unknown or spam calls to their wearable device, despite not having an iPhone themselves.
With cyber security at the forefront of many news headlines, your child’s safety, when it comes to technology, should be second to none. Technology has gifted us with many perks and conveniences, but it has also made us more vulnerable to scams of the digital world.
Take that extra measure of precaution to block unknown or spam callers that are reaching your child’s Apple Watch throughout the day. Learn how to do this below.
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How to set up a family member’s Apple Watch
If you have a family member (e.g., school-aged child or elderly parent) who does not have their own iPhone, they can still benefit from using an Apple Watch. As the account organizer or parent/guardian, you can set this up and manage it as part of your Family Sharing group.
What you’ll need for set up
- An Apple Watch Series 4 or later with cellular capabilities OR an Apple Watch SE (with watchOS 7 or later) with cellular.
- An iPhone 6s or later.
- An Apple ID for you and the family member using the Apple Watch.
- Do not share an Apple ID–create a new one for your child or other loved one first.
- A Family Sharing set up with you as the organizer or parent/guardian.
Pair and set up the Apple Watch with your iPhone
- Don the watch and turn it on. Press and hold the side button until the Apple logo appears
- Keep the watch close to the iPhone for pairing. Once Use your iPhone to set up this Apple Watch appears, tap Continue, then Set Up for a Family Member.
- Hold the iPhone over the center of the watch’s screen. Wait for a message to display saying your Apple Watch is paired. Then tap Set Up Apple Watch.
- Proceed with setting up the Apple Watch. Start this process by first selecting Choose Family Member. The iPhone then prompts you to set up a passcode, cellular and WiFi, and various other features you can choose from (e.g., Location Services, Messages in iCloud, Medical ID, etc.).
- Enable shared contacts that you want available on your child’s Apple Watch. Be sure to have Contacts in iCloud turned on.
- To do this on your iPhone go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud
- Make sure that you turn on Contacts
Now that you have successfully paired the Apple Watch dive back into your settings to set up additional parental restrictions as needed.
To block unwanted spam calls, you must first turn on Screen Time for the paired device.
Screen Time allows you to see how much time your child spends on that particular device. It also lets you know what apps make up most of this use.
To set up Screen Time:
- Go to Settings > Screen Time
- Tap Turn On Screen Time
- Select This is my Child’s [device]
If Screen Time is already on, tap your child’s name under Family. Then if needed, choose Turn on Screen Time and tap Continue.
After you turn on Screen Time, you’ll see a regular report detailing how your child uses their device and other apps.
Within the Screen Time tab, you can also use Communication Limits to block unwanted spam and unknown calls coming to your child’s watch.
Using Screen Time’s Communication Limits to block unknown callers and spam callers
- First, be sure you turned on Screen Time for your child’s Apple Watch or other loved one’s Apple Watch (see above)
- On your iPhone go to Settings > Screen Time
- Choose your child’s name under Family and tap Communication Limits
- Select Contacts Only as the option for both Screen Time and Downtime
All unknown and spam callers that are not in your child’s contact list are now sent directly to your voicemail without alerting your child’s watch. It’s a simple fix that saves you and your child the headache of dealing with unwanted calls!
With this quick fix, be sure to check that all-important numbers are saved within your contacts list to avoid missing any incoming calls that may be important.
Drawbacks to setting Communication Limits with Apple Watch
The option of using parental restrictions is only available for those paired Apple Watch users that are minors.
However, if the owner of the paired Apple Watch is over the age of 18 (e.g., elderly parents or an adult child with special needs), these restrictions are not an option.
To date, via Apple Support, there is no way to silence non-contact calls on an Apple Watch used by an adult via Family Sharing. This is significant to consider if you are using the paired Apple Watch feature for another adult on your Family Sharing plan.
Another concern is the off chance you try to contact that paired device from an unknown number not in their contacts list. Say if your cell phone dies and nobody has an iPhone charger, or your phone is lost or stolen.
You may be in a situation where you are trying to contact your child or elderly parent from a friend or coworker’s phone number. If that number is not saved to their contacts, they won’t be alerted of your calls.
Apple has provided its users the unique feature of pairing one of its approved watches to an iPhone as part of a Family Sharing plan.
This setup has far more benefits than drawbacks, but it is still good practice to review the pros and cons before selecting this option for your devices and family members.