Apple Watch Family Setup means kids don't need their own iPhones to use a smartwatch

Apple Watch's new Family Setup plan lets you set up an Apple Watch for your child, with parental controls for messaging and location tracking. Here's how it works.

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Alison DeNisco Rayome
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Family Setup lets you set up an Apple Watch for your child, even if they don't have an iPhone.

Apple/Screenshot by CNET

At a virtual event on Tuesday, Apple unveiled a new way to help you set up and manage an Apple Watch for your child or the older adult in your life -- even if they don't have an iPhone . The new Family Setup feature lets you use your iPhone to pair watches for children or older family members, giving them their own phone number and account that you can help control from your device.

"Family Setup enables greater independence for your kids or older parents, and you have the comfort of knowing they're just a call away," Apple Watch director Deidre Caldbeck said during the event. 

Watch this: Apple Watch's new Family Setup plan is for kids

With Family Setup, Apple Watch users who do not have an iPhone can still use features like Emergency SOS, Maps, Siri, FaceTime, Alarms and the App Store -- so long as their watch has a cellular plan. Kids can use their Apple Watch to track their movement and activity, and to create an emoji watch face. With more students learning remotely this year, a new Schooltime Mode helps kids stay focused, by placing the watch in Do Not Disturb. Parents can schedule Schooltime during certain hours, or their child can turn it on from the watch's control center. 

Parental control features let you specify which contacts your kids can communicate with when using iMessage and FaceTime. You can also set up automatic location notifications to keep track of your family members, and content restrictions on app downloads.

Family Setup requires a cellular version of the Apple Watch Series 4 or later. It'll also be available on the new Apple Watch Series 6, announced Tuesday as well. 

For more, check out all the Apple Watch tricks in WatchOS 7, and three WatchOS 7 features that'll forever change the way you use your Apple Watch

Watch this: First take: WatchOS 7 public beta