How to Set up Parental Controls on iPhone and iPad

BY Sandy Stachowiak

Published 9 Jul 2017

If you have recently purchased or are planning to buy an iOS device for your child, parental controls are key to their safety. Macs have a dedicated feature called Parental Controls, but on an iPhone or iPad, the feature you will use is called Restrictions. For details on how to enable the feature as well as use it, just follow these simple steps.

Enable the Restrictions Feature

Step 1: Open the device settings.

Step 2: Tap General and then Restrictions.

Step 3: Tap Enable Restrictions.

iPhone Enable Restrictions

Step 4: Create a passcode for Restrictions in order to adjust the settings or disable the feature.

Configure the Restrictions

Allow – Select Apps and Services to Allow

The first section of allowable apps and services is for default apps installed on your device. This includes items like Safari, FaceTime, and the iTunes Store. Just slide the button from green to gray to disable the ones you want to disallow.

You will also notice three settings for allowing the installing and deleting of apps along with in-app purchase ability. So, be sure to disable these as needed.

iPhone Allowable Apps Restrictions

Allowed Content – Decide What Content Is Okay

The Allowed Content area includes eight different categories including movies, TV shows, and websites. Each category has different settings, so you should review each one separately.

Ratings For

This is as simple as choosing your country from the list. Once you do, the ratings for the remainder of the categories will apply to the choice you make.

Music, Podcasts, News & iTunes U

This category has a basic on/off switch for Explicit content as it applies to these four specific items. Remember, to disallow it, just slide the button from green to gray.

iPhone Ratings Music Restrictions


The Movies category is more detailed in that you can select the ratings you want to allow. You will notice that more severe ratings will be disabled automatically when you select friendlier ones. For example, if you tap the R rating, the rating for NC – 17 will be deselected.

In addition, you can choose to not allow movies at all, allow all movies, or only display movies downloaded to the device from the Cloud.

TV Shows

This category works just like the Movies category except using television ratings rather than movie ratings. It also provides disabling of shows completely, allowing all shows, or allowing only shows downloaded from the Cloud.

iPhone Movies TVShows Restrictions


The Books category is similar to the Music one which allows you to disable Explicit Sexual Content.


You can disallow apps completely, allow them all, or choose the age group for the apps from ages four and up. Keep in mind that the age indicators come from the information on the App Store.

iPhone Books Apps Restrictions


The Siri category is another one with simple settings. You can disable Explicit Language and Web Search Content. Again, this is for use with Siri only.


The final category for Websites offers three settings to choose from for All Websites, Limit Adult Content, or Specific Websites Only.

iPhone Website Restrictions

For a choice other than All Websites, you will be prompted to enter the links to the sites. With the Limit Adult Content option, you will enter both allowed and disallowed sites. But, with the Specific Websites Only option, you will only enter those websites that are allowed.

Privacy – Adjust the Privacy Settings

You will find a long list of settings within the Privacy section. Each one is very similar in its settings, but will vary depending on the installed apps and device settings.

So, as you move through each item on the list from Location Services and Calendars to Advertising and Media, you must decide to allow or disallow changes to the item. Then, if you choose to Allow Changes, any apps or services that apply will display for you to enable or disable individually.

iPhone Privacy Calendar Restrictions

Keep in mind that these settings are related to Privacy and should not be confused with the next section.

Allow Changes – Pick Which Items Can Be Changed

Different than the Privacy settings for allowing changes, this section is for a handful of device settings. It includes Accounts, Cellular Data Use, Background App Refresh, Volume Limit, and TV Provider. Each one has a simple choice to allow or disallow changes.

Game Center – Enable or Disable Options

The last section within Restrictions is for Game Center. You will see just three options you can enable or disable. These include Multiplayer Games, Adding Friends, and Screen Recording.

iPhone Allow Changes Restrctions

Important Items to Keep in Mind

Moving Apps

If you decide to enable Restrictions and experiment, you may notice shifts on your screen as apps are moved about. So, if you choose to do this on your own device, you may end up rearranging apps that are displaced as you turn settings off and on.

Changing Your Passcode

To change your Restrictions passcode, head back to your Settings and disable Restrictions using your current passcode. Then, tap to Enable Restrictions once again and set a new passcode.

iPhone Passcode Restrictions

Losing Your Restrictions Passcode – Important!

If you lose or forget your Restrictions passcode, you will have to erase your device. You will then need to set it up as a new device to remove that passcode. So, be very careful if you enable restrictions that you save your passcode.

Now that you have set up the Restrictions, you can feel better when your child is using the iPhone or iPad. Do you find these restrictions to be helpful with your child?