iOS Parental Controls

August 1, 2018

This Blog is a Sub Thread of Parental Control Blog


iPhones and iPads are powerful tools, however if not properly managed can be misused since they're small and can easily be sneaked into a child's bedroom, taken to school or a friends house where parental guidance and oversight may not exist.


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Whether you’ve got an iPhone, iPad or iPod (or are an Apple household with all their devices), adjusting the built-in parental controls on Apple products is relatively easy. 

With a plethora of customizable options, we’re going to show you how to establish your first line of defense and set up parental controls on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod.



Select Settings > General > Restrictions. Selecting Restrictions will prompt you to create a Restrictions Passcode. Once you’ve created your 4-digit passcode, you will then see a wide range of options to either enable or disable, arranged under the following categories: Allow, listing all of your native phone apps (this is where you can disable the camera, Siri, and FaceTime, if you have a kiddo who likes to play with those functions), Allowed Content, Privacy, Allow Changes and Game Center.




For a while, I couldn’t figure out why I kept running out of storage until I logged into iCloud and saw the hundreds of photos my son had taken with his iPad. Disabling the camera saved me from continually having to purchase more storage.

I’ve also disabled Installing Apps and In-App Purchases, as my son often plays free games, which provide direct download links from in-app advertisements. I learned about in-app purchases the hard way when I allowed my son to play cookie jam on my phone; he purchased coins for additional play time, with a simple swipe of the screen (I’d not even purchased more playing time for myself!). While I discovered the in-app purchase quickly, I could have easily avoided the situation by setting the controls on my phone.

Apple allows users to customize the restrictions on iPhone, iPad, and iPod, selecting as much, or as little access.





Using United States ratings system, you can disable access to music, podcasts, and news featuring explicit content, as well as books with adult content. Movies are also categorized by the rating system, you can see that I’ve restricted access to only those movies rated G and PG in the screenshot above.

Each content category allows you to customize the age range, or simply select Disable or Don’t Allow for that option.




Under the content heading, Websites allows you to customize what your child has access to on the web. You can allow All Websites, Limit Adult Content, and designate permissions for Specific Websites Only.



The Privacy menu allows you to further disable access to important items on your phone, such as your calendars, contacts, photos and social media accounts. You can also disable Location Services from the Privacy menu if you’ve not already disabled the GPS locater.



If you want to safeguard your phone’s settings, be sure to access the Changes menu; here you can restrict your child’s ability to change the account, data use and volume settings.



I have a friend whose tech-savvy elementary schooler not only figured out how to record his video game play but opened his own YouTube account and was amassing a following without my friend’s knowledge. You can avoid this, and similar scary situations, by adjusting the settings under Game Center.

While I like the ability to set a range of parental control settings on our iPhones and iPads, I don’t like the fact that the settings are not saved. For example, I spent five minutes customizing the restrictions for my son to be able to use my iPhone, and I disabled the restrictions once he returned it to me. The next time I went to hand over my phone, all of the customized restrictions had to be added, again, once I attempted to enable restrictions.


Use parental controls on your child's iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch


With Content & Privacy Restrictions in Screen Time, you can block or limit specific apps and features on your child's device. And restrict the settings on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch for explicit content, purchases and downloads, and privacy.


Set Content & Privacy Restrictions

  1. Go to Settings and tap Screen Time.

  2. Tap Continue, then choose "This is My [Device]" or "This is My Child's [Device]."

    • If you're the parent or guardian of your device and want to prevent another family member from changing your settings, tap Use Screen Time Passcode to create a passcode. Then re-enter the passcode to confirm.

    • If you're setting up Screen Time on your child's device, follow the prompts until you get to Parent Passcode and enter a passcode. Re-enter the passcode to confirm. 

  3. Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions. If asked, enter your passcode, then turn on Content & Privacy.

Make sure to choose a passcode that's different from the passcode you use to unlock your device. To change or turn off the passcode on your child's device, tap Settings > Screen Time > [your child's name]. Then tap Change Screen Time Passcode or Turn Off Screen Time Passcode, and authenticate the change with Face ID, Touch ID, or your device passcode.

Learn more about using Family Sharing with Screen Time. 


Prevent iTunes & App Store purchases


You can also prevent your child from being able to install or delete apps, make in-app purchases, and more. To prevent iTunes & App Store purchases or downloads:

  1. Go to Settings and tap Screen Time. 

  2. Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions. If asked, enter your passcode.

  3. Tap iTunes & App Store Purchases.

  4. Choose a setting and set to Don't Allow.

You can also change your password settings for additional purchases from the iTunes & App Store or Book Store. Follow steps 1-3, then choose Always Require or Don't Require.



Allow built-in apps and features


You can restrict the use of built-in apps or features. If you turn off an app or feature, it won’t delete it, it’s just temporarily hidden from your Home screen. For example, if you turn off Mail, the Mail app won't appear on your Home Screen until you turn it back on.

To change your Allowed Apps:

  1. Go to Settings > Screen Time.

  2. Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions.

  3. Enter your Screen Time passcode. 

  4. Tap Allowed Apps. 

  5. Select the apps that you want to allow.


Prevent explicit content and content ratings


You can also prevent the playback of music with explicit content and movies or TV shows with specific ratings. Apps also have ratings that can be configured using content restrictions.

To restrict explicit content and content ratings:

  1. Go to Settings and tap Screen Time.

  2. Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions, then tap Content Restrictions.

  3. Choose the settings you want for each feature or setting under Allowed Store Content.

Here are the types of content that you can restrict:

  • Ratings For: Select the country or region in the ratings section to automatically apply the appropriate content ratings for that region

  • Music, Podcasts & News: Prevent the playback of music, music videos, podcasts, and news containing explicit content

  • Music Profiles & Posts: Prevent sharing what you're listening to with friends and seeing what they're listening to

  • Movies: Prevent movies with specific ratings

  • TV shows: Prevent TV shows with specific ratings

  • Books: Prevent content with specific ratings

  • Apps: Prevent apps with specific ratings


Restrict Siri web search


To restrict Siri features: 

  1. Go to Settings and tap Screen Time.

  2. Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions, then tap Content Restrictions.

  3. Scroll down to Siri, then choose your settings.

You can restrict these Siri features: 

  • Web Search Content: Prevent Siri from searching the web when you ask a question

  • Explicit Language: Prevent Siri from displaying explicit language


Restrict Game Center


To restrict Game Center features:

  1. Go to Settings and tap Screen Time.

  2. Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions, then tap Content Restrictions.

  3. Scroll down to Game Center, then choose your settings.

You can restrict these Game Center features:

  • Multiplayer Games: Prevent the ability to play multiplayer games

  • Adding Friends: Prevent the ability to add friends to Game Center

  • Screen Recording: Prevent the ability to capture the screen and sound



Prevent web content


iOS can automatically filter website content to limit access to adult content in Safari and apps on your device. You can also add specific websites to an approved or blocked list, or you can limit access to only approved websites. Follow these steps:

  1. Go to Settings > Screen Time.

  2. Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions and enter your Screen Time passcode. 

  3. Tap Content Restrictions, then tap Web Content.

  4. Choose Unrestricted Access, Limit Adult Websites, or Allowed Websites Only. 

Depending on the access you allow, you might need to add information, like the website that you want to restrict.


Allow changes to privacy settings


The privacy settings on your device give you control over which apps have access to information stored on your device or the hardware features. For example, you can allow a social-networking app to request access to use the camera, which allows you to take and upload pictures.

To allow changes to privacy settings:

  1. Go to Settings and tap Screen Time.

  2. Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions. If asked, enter your passcode.

  3. Tap Privacy, then choose the settings you want to restrict.

Here are the things you can restrict:

  • Location Services: Lock the settings to allow apps and websites to use location

  • Contacts: Prevent apps from accessing your Contacts

  • Calendars: Prevent apps from accessing your Calendar

  • Reminders: Prevent apps from accessing your Reminders

  • Photos: Prevent apps from requesting access to your photos

  • Bluetooth sharing: Prevent devices and apps from sharing data through Bluetooth

  • Share My Location: Lock the settings for location sharing in Messages and Find My Friends

  • Microphone: Prevent apps from requesting access to your microphone

  • Speech Recognition: Prevent apps from accessing Speech Recognition or Dictation

  • Advertising: Prevent changes to advertising settings

  • Media & Apple Music: Prevent apps from accessing your photos, videos, or music library

Allow changes to other settings and features


You can allow changes to other settings and features, the same way you can allow changes to privacy settings.

  1. Go to Settings and tap Screen Time.

  2. Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions. If asked, enter your passcode.

  3. Under Allow Changes, select the features or settings you want to allow changes to and choose Allow or Don't Allow. 

Here are some features and settings you can allow changes for:

  • Passcode Changes: Prevent changes to your passcode.

  • Account Changes: Prevent changes to settings for Accounts & Passwords

  • Cellular Data Changes: Prevent changes to cellular data settings

  • Volume Limit: Prevent changes to volume settings for safe listening

  • Do Not Disturb While Driving: Prevent changes to Do Not Disturb While Driving

  • TV Provider: Prevent changes to TV provider settings

  • Background App Activities: Prevent changes to whether or not apps run in the background.


Learn more

  • Set up Family Sharing with up to six people to share content, as well as request and make purchases with Ask to Buy.

  • You can also use Restrictions on your Mac or PC and Apple TV.

  • Learn how to prevent in-app Purchases or change the credit card that you use in the iTunes Store.

Businesses and schools often use profiles, which can turn on Restrictions. To find out if your device has a profile, go to Settings > General > Profiles. Contact your administrator or the person who set up the profile for more information.


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