Skip to Content
© Syda Productions |
Tech tips

How to set up parental controls for Apple iPhones, iPads and iPods

If you spend any amount of time online, you know there are dangers lurking around every corner. The number of threats facing us is overwhelming and can be difficult to fend off.

Now imagine trying to navigate the internet as a child. On top of the typical security threats facing adults, kids have to worry about running into bullies, trolls and some nasty people wanting to cause them harm.

One thing that can help is Kim’s safety contract for parents and kids that establishes guidelines on screen time, sharing photos, meeting people online and more. Tap or click here to download Kim’s free safety contract now. But what else can you do as a parent? It’s simple. Set up parental controls and eliminate threats before they emerge.

Setting up parental controls on Apple devices

With Content & Privacy Restrictions in Screen Time, you can block or limit specific apps and features on your kids’ devices. You can also restrict the settings on iPhones, iPads or iPod Touches for explicit content, purchases and downloads, and privacy.

Set Content & Privacy Restrictions

This is how you can adjust content and 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 setting up controls on your own device and want to prevent another family member from changing your settings, tap Use Screen Time Passcode and 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 an original passcode so someone who knows important dates or even the code you use to unlock your device won’t be able to guess it.

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.

RELATED: 5 ways to protect your children online

Prevent iTunes and App Store purchases


It was once thought Apple gadgets were exempt from viruses. Think again. Apple devices are now being targeted by cybercriminals and can be easily infected by malicious apps. Tap or click here if you suspect your iPhone has a virus.

You can prevent your kids from being able to install or delete apps and remove the ability to make in-app purchases. This will eliminate the chance of them downloading a malicious app. Here’s how:

  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 the first three steps, then choose Always Require or Don’t Require.

Prevent explicit content and content ratings

You can prevent your kids from listening to music with explicit content, or from watching movies and TV shows with specific ratings. Even apps have ratings you can specify in the content restrictions settings.

Here’s how:

  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.

RELATED: 3 apps to monitor your children’s online safety

Block certain web content


This is a big one. There’s tons of content online that is inappropriate for kids to see.

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 sites. Here’s how:

  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 specific website you want to restrict.

We just told you how to set parental controls for the most critical features but there are others. You can also restrict Siri web searches, restrict game center features and more. Visit Apple’s support page to see the complete list of parental control options.

Tech smarts in 2 minutes a day

Get my Daily Tech Update and the Digital Life Hack. Just one minute each and arm you with the tech knowledge you need to impress your boss and friends with how smart you are.