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Set up parental controls on all your kid’s devices: Windows, Apple, Android

Put simply, parenting isn’t easy. And it can be tough to keep up with the long list of responsibilities, like keeping your kids safe, promoting safe hygiene practices and as an added bonus during the coronavirus pandemic, being their teacher at home.

Now that your kids are home all day, they’re likely online most of the time as well. Tap or click here for an app to help manage your kids’ screen time. But other than managing how long they’re connected to the internet, it’s also important to ensure they’re being safe on it.

Although it can be a chore to keep up with everything your children do, especially online, you can help protect them by setting parental controls. Not sure how? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Let’s start with setting up those controls on your Apple devices.

Apple’s parental controls

The Apple Screen Time feature allows you to control the settings on your iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. You can block or limit certain apps, content, purchases, downloads and privacy settings.

Set Content and Privacy Restrictions

To adjust privacy and content restrictions:

  • Tap Settings >> Screen Time.
  • Click Continue, then select “This is My Device” or “This is My Child’s Device.”
    • If the device is yours and you want to prevent another family member from making changes to any settings, click Use Screen Time Passcode and create a passcode. Re-enter passcode to confirm.
    • If this is your child’s device, follow the prompts until you get to Parental Passcode, enter passcode. Re-enter passcode to confirm.
  • Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions. If asked, enter your passcode and enable Content & Privacy.
    • For iOS and iPad OS 13.4 and later, after you confirm the passcode, enter your Apple ID and password. This can be used to reset the Screen Time passcode if you forget it.

Be sure to choose a passcode that is unique and not so easy your children can figure it out. Stay away from birthdates, anniversary dates and other numbers that have significant meaning.

Turn off passcode

To change or turn off the passcode on your child’s device:

  • Go into Settings >> Screen Time >> your child’s name.
  • Tap Change Screen Time Passcode or Turn Off Screen Time Passcode.
  • Verify the change with either your Face ID, Touch ID or device passcode.

Prevent App Store and iTunes purchases

Help prevent your children from being able to install or delete apps, or make in-app purchases. This can help spare your wallet and keep them from accidentally downloading an inappropriate or malicious app.

The best part? It’s a quick and easy process:

  • Tap Settings >> Screen Time.
  • Select Content & Privacy Restrictions. Toggle on Content & Privacy Restrictions.
  • Tap iTunes & Apps Store Purchases. Choose a setting and set to Don’t Allow.

Adjust the password settings for additional purchases from the App Store, iTunes and the Bookstore by following the first three steps above and select either Always Require or Don’t Require.

You may also like: New! Tech safety contract for kids (free download)

Block explicit content and content ratings

Your children can steer clear from listening to music with explicit content or programming and apps with specific ratings by implementing a few restriction settings:

  • Tap Settings >> Screen Time.
  • Choose Content & Privacy Restrictions >> Content Restrictions.
  • Select the settings you want for each feature or setting under Allowed Store Content.

The content you can restrict includes movies, TV shows, books and apps that have specific ratings, music, podcasts, news, music profiles, posts and ratings for individual countries or regions.

Prevent web content

Apple devices can filter website content to limit access to adult content in Safari and other apps on your devices. You can further add specific websites to an approved or blocked list, or limit access to only approved websites. Here’s how:

  • Tap Settings >> Screen Time.
  • Select Content & Privacy Restrictions, then enter your Screen Time passcode.
  • Tap Content Restrictions >> Web Content.
  • Choose Unrestricted Access, Limit Adult Websites or Allowed Websites Only.

You may need to enter additional information, like the website(s) you want to restrict.

How to set up parental controls on an Android phone

Because Android is an open-source operating system, the Google Play store contains many malicious third-party apps. To help prevent your children from downloading a dangerous application, it’s essential that you set parental controls by restricting app purchases.

You have to set up parental controls per device, so if you have multiple gadgets, each device needs to have these settings adjusted:

  • Open the Google Play store.
  • Tap three-line Menu >> Settings >> Parental controls.
  • Toggle on Parental controls.
  • Create and enter a PIN.
    • Be sure to make your PIN unique and challenging for people to guess.
  • Select the type of content you want to filter.
  • Chose how to filter or restrict access.

Although your children will no longer be able to download the restricted apps, they will be able to view all apps in Google Play. Tap or click to discover five ways to protect your child online.

If you would like to see how to set up and use Family Link, see the Chromebook section.

Windows 10 parental controls

Before you can use Windows Parental Controls and Microsoft Family Safety features, you and your child each need to have Microsoft Accounts (not local). If you do not have an account set up for yourself, visit Microsoft.com.

You can create your child’s account during the parental controls setup by following these steps:

  • Tap Start on the home screen and select Settings >> Accounts >> Family & Other Users from the left-pane window.
  • Click Add a Family Member >> Add a Child.
  • Choose The Person I Want To Add Doesn’t Have An Email Address. (If they do have an email address, enter it and skip the next step.)
  • In the Let’s Create An Account dialog box, enter the necessary information.
  • Select Next and Confirm if prompted.
  • Read the information displayed and select Close.

If you created an account for your child, parental controls are enabled by default and the account is ready for use. Your child just needs to log into his or her account while online to complete the process.

To set up screen time limits

If you want to keep the kids from spending the entire day online, you need to go to your family group first. Here’s how to find it and set up screen time limits:

  • Select Start >> Settings >> Accounts >> Family & Other People.
  • Tap Manage Family Settings Online, log in if prompted.
  • Select Child >> Screen Time (which will open up a tab). Adjust settings.

For Content Restrictions

It’s important to keep kids from viewing content you’re not comfortable with them seeing yet. Here’s how to restrict what they can view:

  • Click on your child’s name >> Content Restrictions.
  • Go to Apps, games & media and switch it on.
  • Under “Allow apps and games rated for,” select the age limit you want to apply.

If there is content that your child wants to access that has been restricted, you can still give them permission to use it. Approve it by adding the app, game or media to the Always allowed list, located under Content restrictions.

Note: If your child downloaded something inappropriate before you set the limits, block that content from the Activity page.

Receive weekly reports

To receive weekly web-browsing reports on your child’s online activities:

  • Select Activity under your child’s name and expand Manage.
  • Turn on both Activity Reporting and Email weekly reports to me.

Note: For you to block inappropriate sites and receive the weekly reports, your child must use either Microsoft Explorer or Edge browsers. You can block other browsers.

Ask permission before purchases

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If you want your child to ask permission before buying anything in the Microsoft Store:

  • Click your child’s name, then choose Spending.
  • Under Ask a Parent, turn on Needs organizer approval to buy things.
  • To approve or deny purchases via email, switch Email me when they get stuff to on.

Chromebook parental controls

Unlike other devices, Chromebooks require you to download Google Family Link, which is available free from Google Play.

It is important to note that this app is only for children under 13. Children older than 13 can create and set up regular Google Accounts. Family Link is compatible with Chromebooks running Chrome OS 71 or higher.

Use Family Link

This Google app helps parents and children establish healthy digital habits by:

  • Setting digital ground rules
  • Viewing your child’s activity
  • Managing apps
  • Accessing teacher-recommended apps
  • Setting device time limits and bedtimes
  • Remotely locking devices
  • Locating phones

To add your child’s account to a new Chromebook, you must be signed out.

  • Click Add person at the bottom of the screen.
  • Enter the Google Account email address and password, then click Next.
  • Follow the on-screen instructions.

If the Chromebook was already set up, before you add your child’s account you need to follow the above steps and disable guest mode and control who can sign in. Your child will be able to use Chromebook without Family Link limitations if this step isn’t completed.

Google Family Link will allow you to set screen time, manage websites, block explicit content, change permissions, limit browsing and screen time, and disable apps.

To manage or modify any of the following controls, you must first open the Family Link app, select your child’s name, click Settings and Manage Settings, then continue with the additional steps.

Set screen time limits

The easiest way to keep your child from spending too much time on a device is to limit their screen time:

  • On the Daily limit card, click Set up or Edit limits.
  • Follow on-screen instructions.

To manage web browsing

To protect your child while on the internet:

  • From Manage settings, click Filters on Google Chrome.
  • Choose the setting you want:
    • Allow all sites: Kids can visit all sites except those you block manually
    • Try to block mature sites: This hides sexually explicit and violent sites (though no filter is perfect, so be careful).
    • Only allow certain sites: Kids can only visit sites you manually set.
  • Tap Manage site to manually allow or block certain web pages.

For more website permission settings, such as giving permission to use location, camera and notifications, visit the Google support page.

While you can’t avoid all of the crazy moments when raising children, you can help protect them when they are online with just a few simple steps, no matter the device.

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