Tuesday, 27 March 2018

How to set up Parental Controls on your child's iPad and iPhone

So, you just got a new iPhone or iPad to replace your current one and decided that instead of just throwing the old device in a drawer, you are going to hand it down to one of your children. You are happy with your new toy and the child is happy with theirs (side note - new tech day is always the best day in my opinion)!

Before handing over that iPad, did you think about setting up some limitations to help keep the kiddos out of trouble? Probably not and neither did we. My wife and I learned a hard lesson about this last year and I don't want you to make the same mistakes that we did. In this post we are going to go through the controls available to you on your iPhone and iPad that will allow your child to have fun and be safe at the same time. 

Parent Tool: iPhone and iPad Restrictions

Launch the Settings app and tap General. Under General, tap Restrictions.

You will need to turn Restrictions on. To do that tap on Enable Restrictions.

When enabled, the Restrictions menu is locked by a four digit PIN. Enter your new PIN. Make sure it is not something easy that a child would know. You will need to confirm it by entering it a second time.

You will now see that the toggles are active for all the options. The first group of options under the ALLOW heading give you the ability to enable (green) or disable (white) various iOS features and built in apps like Safari, Siri, etc. You can set these options as you see fit. As you can see by the image, on our iPad we allow access to Safari, Camera and Siri but we remove access to Installing Apps, Deleting Apps and, the big one, In-App Purchases. This allows us to control what is put on and taken off of the iPad.

The next sub section is ALLOWED CONTENT. This is where you will set the ratings for music, movies, TV shows, etc. Simpy tab the option you want to adjust and then select the proper rating. These ratings are based on the country you reside in so make sure to select that first under Ratings For. We will go through the options of each one below.

First up is Movies. Tap the highest movie rating you would like to allow on the iPad and then tap <Restrictions in the top left corner to go back to the Restrictions menu.

TV Shows is similar to Movies but the ratings are a little more granular. Select the highest rating you would like to allow and then tap <Restrictions in the top left corner to go back to the Restrictions menu. 

Next up is Apps. Each app in the App Store has an age rating associated with it. Similar to the other options, just select the highest age group you would like to allow and then tap <Restrictions in the top left corner to go back to the Restrictions menu. Note, once making the selection, any apps installed that are over the age restriction will disappear from the home screen. They have not been uninstalled and will reappear if / when the restriction is lifted. 

With Siri you can limit Explicit Language and Web Search Content (returning results from Wikipedia, Bing and Social Media). Select what you want and then head back to the Restrictions page.  

Now on to Websites. This is a big one.

You have 2 options here: All Websites, Limit Adult Content and Specific Websites Only. All Websites leaves Safari and other browsers wide open to searching content, while Specific Web Aites Only limits the browser to a list of sites you select. For most families, Limit Adult Content will be the best option. It allows you to protect your child but does not limit access to other sites which they may need for researching school projects, etc. You have the option to add sites to always allow or never allow. You can do this as you see fit. Make your selections and then head back to Restrictions

The last one on the list that we are going to talk about is Password Settings. These settings dictate how often you will need to enter your password in the App Store when making purchases or downloading free software. If you restricted the purchases and downloads earlier, it is still a good idea to set these now in case you remove the other restrictions at a later time.

For our family, I've chosen that the password is always required for purchases and downloads, no matter what. Yes, it does suck to type it in each time and with how frequently I update passwords it can be a hassle to remember as well, but I would rather spend the extra 15 seconds then pay for apps my kids bought. Make your choices and head back to Restrictions

So that's it. There are some other settings around locations, contacts, calendars, etc but I will leave those to you to explore. I hope that by covering some of the basic parental control settings on your iPhone and iPad devices, you kiddos will be safer when making those ridiculous stickbot videos and the like!

Remember, kids will be kids. It's their job to be curious, and our job to keep them safe.


  1. What about setting up usage limits? Is there an easy and preferably cheap way to set the up?

    1. You can use Guided Access to restrict the device to one app and apply a time limit to it. It is an option in the Accessibility menu. We will have a post about it in the next couple days.

      Other than that there are apps out there that will apply usage limits but I have not used any to recommend one over another. A quick search showed that lots of the free apps that apply limits actually require a subscription so be mindful of that.


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