Allowing your child to use the internet unsupervised can be risky, due to the nature of the content that can be accessed. Fortunately, Apple devices come with built-in parental controls that you can implement to protect your child’s online privacy and security.
Whether your child owns an iPhone, iPad, iPod, or Mac computer, parental controls allow you to control screen time, allowed apps and content, and more.
How To Turn On Parental Controls On iOS
The easiest way to set up parental controls is to set up Family Sharing. See our guide on setting up family sharing on your Apple device for detailed instructions. Once you do that, you can access parental controls for each child directly from your Family Sharing menu on your iPhone or Mac.
Alternatively, you can access parental controls directly on your child’s device. On iOS, parental controls are located in the Screen Time settings.
Click the settings icon on your child’s iPhone, iPad, or iPod. Then, click on Screen Time and click on Turn On Screen Time.
Tap on Screen Time Passcode and choose a passcode. This will prevent your child from changing the Screen Time settings in the future. Confirm the passcode and enter your Apple ID and password, which you can use later to recover the passcode if you forget it.
This passcode should not be the same one used to unlock the device. Make sure to keep it a secret from your child.
How To Turn On Parental Controls On A Mac
On a Mac, parental controls are under Screen Time settings, which are accessible from the System Settings (System Preferences on older Mac versions). You can access the System Settings by clicking on the Apple icon menu at the top of your screen.
If you have Family Sharing turned on, you can access Screen Time settings by logging into your own Mac and selecting your child’s profile in the Screen Time settings. Otherwise, you will need to access the Screen Time settings on their physical device.
In Screen Time settings, click on Content & Privacy. Make sure to turn on Content and Privacy Restrictions. Set a passcode so that your child can’t change the restrictions or turn them off.
Things You Can Do With iOS Parental Controls
There are several things you should do once you activate a passcode and parental controls on iOS.
Set Up Downtime
Under Screen Time > App & Website Activity > Downtime, you can turn on downtime, during which only apps you allow, and phone calls will be available.
You can turn on downtime until midnight or schedule downtimes. You can also choose to block the device entirely during downtime.
Set App Limits
Under Screen Time > App Limits, you can set daily time limits for any app category. Click on Add Limit and then select All Apps & Categories or a specific category.
Categories include Social, Games, Entertainment, etc. Under each category, you can also select specific apps if you don’t want to add a limit for the entire category. For example, instead of selecting all Social apps, you can select only Facebook and Instagram.
Once you’ve made your selection, select a time limit for each day.
Set Communication Limits
Under Screen Time > Communication Limits, you can set limits based on contacts. Set up different limits for screen time and downtime; for example, only allow your child to contact specific contacts such as Mom or Dad during downtime.
For added safety, turn off contact editing, so your child can’t edit an allowed contact.
Set Always Allowed Apps And Contacts
Under Screen Time > Always Allowed, you can select contacts and apps that are always allowed, even during downtime.
Restrict iTunes And App Store Purchases
Under Screen Time > Content & Privacy Restrictions > iTunes & App Store Purchases, you can block your child from installing apps, deleting apps, or making in-app purchases.
You can also require that your child enter a password for any additional purchases they make from iTunes or the App Store. Setting a password they don’t know can help prevent any overspending or accidental purchases.
Select Allowed Apps
Under Screen Time > Content & Privacy Restrictions > Allowed Apps, you can disable apps.
Disabled apps will not be shown on the home screen, although they will not be uninstalled. They will be inaccessible and unusable.
Set Up Content Restrictions
Under Screen Time > Content & Privacy Restrictions > Content Restrictions > Allowed Store Content, you can turn off or set age ratings for different types of store content.
Those include music, podcasts, music videos, TV shows, books, and more.
Under Screen Time > Content & Privacy Restrictions > Content Restrictions > Web Content, you can limit adult websites or set up a whitelist of allowed websites.
Under Screen Time > Content & Privacy Restrictions > Content Restrictions > Siri, you can turn off Siri web search content and prevent Siri from using explicit language.
Under Screen Time > Content & Privacy Restrictions > Content Restrictions > Game Center, you can set up gaming restrictions.
Options include choosing which people your child can play multiplayer games with, turning off the option to add or connect with friends, disallowing screen recording and Nearby Multiplayer, and turning off private messaging, profile privacy changes, and avatar and nickname changes.
Set Up Privacy Restrictions
Under Screen Time > Content & Privacy Restrictions > Content Restrictions > Privacy > Location, you can turn off location services and decide which apps can access location services. You can also prevent your child from making changes to these settings.
Under Screen Time > Content & Privacy Restrictions > Content Restrictions > Privacy, you can also prevent your child from making changes to the following settings:
- Share My Location
- Bluetooth Sharing
- Speech Recognition
- Apple Advertising
- Allow Apps to Request to Track
- Media and Apple Music
Prevent Your Child From Making Changes
Under Screen Time > Content & Privacy Restrictions > Privacy > Allow Changes, you can prevent your child from making changes to Screen Time restrictions.
You can prevent changes for the following settings:
- Passcode Changes
- Account Changes
- Cellular Data Changes
- Reduce Loud Sounds
- Driving Focus
- TV Provider
- Background App Activities
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