Apple’s built-in features to control what kids do on iPhones are quite effective. For instance, you can set limits on how much time they spend on the screen, restrict certain content, and filter the apps and web searches they can access. These features are relatively straightforward, but it may take some time to figure out how to activate and configure them. To save you the trouble of exploring your child’s iPhone extensively, I have created a guide that will help you complete the necessary steps quickly. Additionally, I have compiled a list of common methods children typically use to bypass Apple’s built-in parental controls and provided tips on how to prevent that from happening.
Since Apple’s parental control features are fairly basic and lack some convenient extras found in third-party apps, I also recommend you get familiar with the best third-party apps for parents to monitor their child’s social media activities.
How to Set Parental Controls on iPhone (or iPad)
The built-in parental controls on iPhones and iPads are user-friendly and simple to set up. Here are some of the possibilities for parental controls on iPhone and iPad:
1. You Can Set Up Screen Time Limitations
The World Health Organization recommends that children between the ages of two and five should only spend one hour a day using screens. As children get older, they can spend more time, but it’s still important to keep an eye on how much they use their phones. To set limits on screen time, you need to activate this feature. There are two ways you can set up Screen Time controls for your child: through Family Sharing and directly on a device.
Method 1: Turn on Screen Time from your child’s iPhone
- Open the Settings app on your child’s phone.
- Tap on Screen Time.
- Tap Continue.
- Select “This is my Child’s Device”.
- If you want to establish downtime and app limits, follow the instructions provided within the “Screen Time” section.
- Create a special passcode for Screen Time when prompted.
- If you already have Family Sharing turned on, you can instantly configure Screen Time from the device of the person in charge of the family.
Method 2: Turn on Screen Time with Family Sharing
- Open the Settings app on the device of the person in charge of the family.
- Tap on Screen Time.
- Select your child’s name.
- Tap the option to Turn On Screen Time.
- If you want to set up downtime and app limits, follow the instructions provided within the Screen Time section.
- Create a unique passcode for Screen Time when prompted.
- Screen time lets you set rules for when your child should wind down for bed or sleep, and it allows you to control how much time they spend on specific apps. You can also set restrictions on content and privacy.
2. You Can Turn on Ask To Buy on Your Child’s iPhone
If you give your child a smartphone, it’s important to prevent them from accidentally spending lots of money on in-app purchases.
Apple has a smart solution called Ask to Buy. It can be activated for any family member under 18 and is automatically turned on for those under 13.
When Ask to Buy is on, it sends a message to the person in charge of the family whenever the child wants to buy an app or media. The message includes the name and price of the item. The family organizer can then decide whether to allow or reject the purchase request.
Here’s how to enable Ask To Buy on a child’s iPhone
- Make sure Family Sharing is turned on and that the children are added to the family group.
- On the device of the person in charge of the family, open Settings.
- Tap on your name.
- Select Family Sharing.
- Choose your child’s name.
- Turn on the Ask to Buy option.
3. You Can Block Inappropriate Content
One of the biggest worries for parents is making sure their kids don’t accidentally see things that are not suitable for their age.
Naturally, many parents are also uneasy about young children using social media platforms where they might interact with strangers. This is where iOS parental controls and iPad parent controls can be very helpful in preventing such situations.
To control what your child can access on their device, follow these steps:
- Open the Settings app and tap on Screen Time.
- From there, go to Content & Privacy Settings and then select Content Restrictions.
- Here, you can choose which types of media you want to limit access to, such as music videos, podcasts, TV shows, or movies.
4. You Can Set Communication Limits
To prevent your child from talking to strangers, you can set communication limits on your iPhone. This restriction applies to Phone, FaceTime, Messages, and iCloud Contacts.
- Open the Settings app on your iOS device and go to Screen Time. Under the Family section, tap on your child’s name and select Communication Limits.
- Choose During Screen Time and enter your Screen Time passcode.
- You have three options to choose from:
- Contacts Only: This allows communication with people in your contacts, both one-on-one and in groups.
- Contacts & Groups with at least one contact: This allows one-on-one conversations only with people in your contacts and group conversations that include at least one contact.
- Everyone: This allows communication with everyone, including unknown numbers.
- To prevent your child from talking to unknown numbers, choose Contacts Only or Contacts & Groups with at least one contact. Once you’ve selected the desired option, tap the back button.
- Note: Keep in mind that changes to communication limits won’t take effect on your child’s device until their software is compatible. Communication limits also require iCloud Contacts to be enabled on the device (Settings app -> profile -> iCloud -> Contacts).
- Tap During Downtime and enter your Screen Time passcode. From there, you can allow communication with specific contacts only or contacts & groups with at least one contact. Then tap the back button.
- Finally, you can choose whether to allow or disallow contact editing and manage your child’s contacts remotely.
5. You Can Disable Certain Apps
There are apps on your iPhone or iPad that may not be suitable for kids. However, without the right Apple parental controls, they could be seen by the wrong people. To prevent this, follow these steps:
- Open Settings and tap on Screen Time.
- Then choose Contact & Privacy Restrictions.
- In this section, go to Allowed Apps.
- Here, you can turn on or off permissions to access all the apps on your device.
6. You Can Restrict Siri from Searching the Web
Siri is a useful tool that allows us to search the web by using our voice instead of typing. However, this can also pose risks, especially for young internet users who may come across inappropriate content. Luckily, Apple has implemented parental restrictions on iPhones to address this issue. Here’s how to set up parental controls:
- Open Settings and tap on Screen Time.
- Then select Contact & Privacy Restrictions.
- Go to Content Restrictions. In this section, you can scroll down to find the Siri settings.
- Here, you have two options: you can stop Siri from searching the internet when you ask a question, and you can prevent Siri from displaying any explicit language in search results.
7. You Can Restrict Your Child to Using Only One App
“Guided Access” is a useful parental control feature on the iPhone that restricts a child to using only one app. It prevents them from accessing other functions of the phone, such as searching the internet or using other features. Here’s how to set it up:
- Go to Settings
- Open Accessibility
- Scroll down until you find Guided Access. Toggle it on or off as needed.
8. You Can Prevent Your Child from Playing Multiplayer Games
Many kids use iPhones and iPads to play games with their friends. But as a concerned parent, it’s important to know who your children are interacting with. With Screen Time, you can control Game Center to prevent your child from playing multiplayer games, adding friends, or engaging in private messaging.
Follow these steps:
- Open the Settings app, then go to Screen Time and select Content & Privacy Restrictions. Turn on the toggle for Content & Privacy Restrictions, then tap Content Restrictions.
- Scroll down to the Game Center section and customize the settings according to your preferences.
9. You Can Restrict Your Child’s Purchases
iOS’s parental controls can limit purchases made through iTunes and the Apple App Store. If you’re worried about your child going on a shopping spree on Amazon, you should also restrict them to Allowed Websites (as mentioned above).
- Go to Settings, then tap on Screen Time, and select Content & Privacy Restrictions.
- Turn on Content & Privacy Restrictions at the top of the screen.
- Tap on iTunes & App Store Purchases, then In-app Purchases, and choose Don’t Allow.
- Alternatively, you can select Always Require under iTunes & App Store Purchases to enable password restrictions for purchases. This can be useful if you want to approve app purchases on a case-by-case basis.
10. You Can Disallow Passcode and Account Changes
If you don’t want your child to change the passcode or account settings on their device without your permission, you can use the Screen Time feature:
- Open the Settings app, then go to Screen Time and select Content & Privacy Restrictions.
- Scroll down to the Allow Changes section. From there, choose the specific section you want to control, like Passcode Changes, Account Changes, Mobile Data Changes, Driving Focus, and then disallow any changes in those areas.
Now that you know how to set parental controls on iPhone and iPad easily, feel free to share any additional tips or interesting experiences in the comment section below. Your feedback motivates us to provide you with more helpful content. Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter for the latest news, updates, and tutorials on social media, apps, and devices.
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