How to set up parental controls on your child's iPhone or iPad to restrict screen time, explicit content, or purchases

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How to set up parental controls on your child's iPhone or iPad to restrict screen time, explicit content, or purchases
There's a wide range of parental restrictions you can set on your child's iPhone. Justin Paget/Getty Images
  • iPhone parental controls can keep your child away from sensitive content and regulate screen time.
  • You can also control purchases and set content and privacy restrictions.
  • Parental controls can all be accessed via the Screen Time section of your Settings app.
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When it comes to keeping your kids safe, technology is an important consideration. If you have Apple devices, including iPhones and iPads, in the house, you have access to a robust set of resources for controlling what your kids can do on their own devices. You just have to know how to set them up.

Here's what you'll need to do.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Set content and privacy restrictions using Screen Time

Before you can start, you must have Screen Time for Family set up on your device.

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1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad.

2. Tap Screen Time.

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How to set up parental controls on your child's iPhone or iPad to restrict screen time, explicit content, or purchases
In Settings, go to "Screen Time." Devon Delfino

3. Tap Turn on Screen Time.

4. After reading a summary of what the Screen Time feature can offer, tap Continue.

5. If you're setting up parental controls on your kid's iPhone, select This is My Child's iPhone.

How to set up parental controls on your child's iPhone or iPad to restrict screen time, explicit content, or purchases
Select who's phone you're using at the bottom. Devon Delfino

6. Tap Downtime, then configure the hours you want your kid's iPhone to be offline. For example, you might want to prevent them from playing games or using social media after dinner. Regardless of what hours you choose, calls and text messages will still get through.

How to set up parental controls on your child's iPhone or iPad to restrict screen time, explicit content, or purchases
From the Screen Time page, select "Downtime." Devon Delfino

7. Tap the back button, then select App Limits. From there, you can choose how long your child can use various kinds of apps. For example, you can limit social media apps and games to two hours a day, then tap Set App Limit.

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How to set up parental controls on your child's iPhone or iPad to restrict screen time, explicit content, or purchases
In "App Limits," you can set a time limit for certain apps. Devon Delfino

8. Tap the back button again and select Content & Privacy Restrictions. Then toggle on the Content & Privacy Restrictions option and create a passcode so that you have access to the Screen Time parental controls, but your child does not.

How to set up parental controls on your child's iPhone or iPad to restrict screen time, explicit content, or purchases
Toggle on the button at the top of the page. Devon Delfino

Quick tip: To prevent your child from changing your settings, select Use Screen Time Passcode to create a passcode, and re-enter it as directed to confirm your decision. If you have iOS 13.4 and later, you'll then be asked to enter your Apple ID and password.

Control iTunes and App Store purchases

Prevent purchases and downloads

1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad.

2. Tap Screen Time.

3. Select Content & Privacy Restrictions. You might be asked to enter your passcode at this point.

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How to set up parental controls on your child's iPhone or iPad to restrict screen time, explicit content, or purchases
Go to "Content & Privacy Restrictions." Devon Delfino

4. Tap iTunes & App Store Purchases.

How to set up parental controls on your child's iPhone or iPad to restrict screen time, explicit content, or purchases
Select "iTunes & App Store Purchases." Devon Delfino

5. Choose Don't Allow where desired.

Enable 'Ask to Buy'

This process must be done on your device - not your child's device. Once set up, you, acting as the family organizer, are able to approve or deny requests from your child to make purchases, like buying a new app for their phone.

1. Open your Settings app.

2. Select your name at the top of the screen.

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3. Tap Family Sharing.

How to set up parental controls on your child's iPhone or iPad to restrict screen time, explicit content, or purchases
Go to "Family Sharing." Devon Delfino

4. Select Ask to Buy.

How to set up parental controls on your child's iPhone or iPad to restrict screen time, explicit content, or purchases
On the Family Sharing page, select "Ask To Buy." Devon Delfino

5. Tap the name of your desired family member.

6. Use the toggle button to turn on or turn off Ask to Buy.

Note: Ask to Buy doesn't work for apps or other content distributed by their school if your child's account was set up using Apple ID for students. However, it will still work for personal purchases.

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Specify which websites your child is allowed to visit

1. Open the Settings app and then tap Screen Time.

2. On the Screen Time page, tap Content & Privacy Restrictions. You might need to enter your Screen Time passcode.

3. If it's not already turned on, swipe the button for Content & Privacy Restrictions to the right.

4. Tap Content Restrictions.

How to set up parental controls on your child's iPhone or iPad to restrict screen time, explicit content, or purchases
Select "Content Restrictions." Devon Delfino

5. In the Web Content section, tap Web Content.

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How to set up parental controls on your child's iPhone or iPad to restrict screen time, explicit content, or purchases
From the Content Restrictions page, go to "Web Content." Devon Delfino

6. Depending on how restrictive you want to be, tap Limit Adult Websites or Allowed Websites Only. Once you make that selection, you can fine-tune the controls by adding websites to the list of allowed (or not allowed) sites.

Prevent explicit content

1. Go into your Settings app.

2. Tap Screen Time.

3. Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions.

How to set up parental controls on your child's iPhone or iPad to restrict screen time, explicit content, or purchases
Go to "Content & Privacy Restrictions." Devon Delfino

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4. Select Content Restrictions.

5. Choose the settings you want.

How to set up parental controls on your child's iPhone or iPad to restrict screen time, explicit content, or purchases
Choose what content you'd like to restrict or allow. Devon Delfino

From this screen, you can restrict:

  • Ability to play music, music videos, podcasts, and news containing explicit content.
  • Ability to find and view music videos.
  • Ability to share what they're listening to with friends, and see what their friends are listening to.
  • Movies, TV shows, book content and apps with specific ratings.

Quick tip: You can select the country or region in the ratings section to apply your desired content ratings for that entire region.

Disable built-in apps

1. Go into your Settings app and tap Screen Time.

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2. Select Content & Privacy Restrictions.

3. Enter your Screen Time passcode, as directed.

4. Select Allowed Apps.

How to set up parental controls on your child's iPhone or iPad to restrict screen time, explicit content, or purchases
From the Content & Privacy Restrictions page, go to "Allowed Apps." Devon Delfino

5. Toggle off the apps that you want to disable.

Note: Disabling these apps doesn't delete them, it simply hides them from your child's home screen.

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Restrict Siri web searches

1. Go into your Settings app.

2. Tap Screen Time.

3. Select Content & Privacy Restrictions.

4. Tap Content Restrictions.

5. Scroll down to Siri, then choose your settings. You can prevent Siri from searching the web when you ask a question, and prevent Siri from displaying any explicit language from within this setting.

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How to set up parental controls on your child's iPhone or iPad to restrict screen time, explicit content, or purchases
In the Siri section, choose what kind of content you want to allow. Devon Delfino
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