Whether you’re buying your child’s first smartphone or looking for more oversight over what your teen is doing online, Apple offers a range of parental controls for iPhone and iPad. Here, we’ll show you how to set parental controls on iPhone and explain why a dedicated app for managing iOS parental controls will give your family the best protection.
This article contains:
Head to the Screen Time settings on your child’s iPhone or iPad — that’s where most of Apple’s parental controls can be found. Now, let’s go through how to set parental controls on iPhone and iPad.
On your child’s iOS device, open the Settings app and tap Screen Time. Tap Turn On Screen Time and then tap Continue.
If you’re setting iPad or iPhone restrictions on your child’s device, tap This is My Child’s iPhone (or iPad).
Downtime lets you set a time window when much of your child’s iPhone or iPad will be unusable. They’ll still be able to make and receive calls, as well as access any specific apps that you select. Downtime is a handy tool if you’re looking to limit your child’s overall screen time.
To set up Downtime, choose a Start time and End time, and then tap Set Downtime. If you’d prefer not to use Downtime, tap Not Now.
With App Limits, you can set time limits for the use of specific apps. You can choose to restrict all apps, or pick certain categories like social media apps or games. If you’re concerned about Instagram being safe for your child, or if you want to keep your kids safe on Facebook, App Limits can help.
To set up App Limits, tap Show All Categories and select the types of apps you’d like to restrict. Then, tap Set to define how long your child can use these apps each day.
After making your selections, tap Set App Limit, or tap Not Now to skip ahead.
If you’re worried about mature and explicit content on the internet — and there’s certainly loads of it — you can limit what your child can access through Content & Privacy restrictions. This is where you can prevent your child from watching R-rated movies, buying music with foul language, or visiting adult or other potentially unsafe websites.
You can also configure your child’s phone so that only you can adjust their privacy settings. We’ll show you how to do this later — for now, tap Continue.
Crafty children will likely try and undo all your hard work by opening Screen Time on their iPhone and iPad. But by setting a passcode, you can prevent them from making any changes on their own.
Set your PIN and confirm it, and then enter your Apple ID and passcode as a backup.
Be sure to check out our other parental control guide:
A dedicated family safety app will let you do much more with the parental controls in iOS than Apple’s out-of-the-box features. Avast Family Space gives you detailed control over how your children can use their devices while also allowing you to monitor their location, filter adult content, pause their internet access, and more.
After setting things up initially, you can go back into your child’s iOS settings and adjust their permissions in more detail. Set limits on adult content, block apps, and restrict your child’s overall screen time to keep your family safer online.
While setting up Screen Time protections on your child’s phone, you likely already set Downtime hours and chose your App Limits. Now, we’ll explore your options with iOS’s Content & Privacy tools.
To begin, open Settings, tap Screen Time, and then tap Content & Privacy Restrictions.
Flip the Content & Privacy Restrictions toggle at the top of the screen to On.
Once you’ve enabled Content & Privacy Restrictions, you can begin fine-tuning your iOS parental controls. Let’s explore your options in the Content & Privacy Restrictions menu.
You can limit the purchases your child can make in iTunes and in the App Store. You can also block your child from making in-app purchases — a great way to avoid accidentally racking up a huge credit card bill. Many games feature in-app purchases, and younger children may not understand (or care) that these items cost real-world money.
From the Content & Privacy Restrictions screen, tap iTunes & App Store Purchases to view your options. Choose Don’t Allow to block app installs, downloads, or in-app purchases. You can also set a password for these actions.
From profanity-laced music to ultra-violent TV shows and movies, there’s a lot of content out there that you might not want your children exposed to. You can prevent them from accessing these types of media directly from the Content & Privacy Restrictions menu in your Screen Time app.
Tap Content Restrictions to see a list of the content types you can block. For example, you can prevent your child from watching R-rated movies or purchasing albums with the Explicit label.
Tap a specific content type to set your desired permissions. In the screenshot below, we’re allowing all movies with ratings up to and including R. That means that movies rated NC-17 will be blocked on this phone.
The internet is a bountiful place, but that obviously doesn’t mean that everything is age-appropriate for your children. iOS gives you a handful of options for limiting your child’s internet access. You can have Safari block all adult websites or restrict access to a chosen selection of sites.
From the Content & Restrictions menu, tap Web Content. Then, tap Limit Adult Websites to block adult content. You can also add specific websites here that should always be allowed or always be restricted.
Alternatively, you may want to allow access only to a narrow range of acceptable websites, such as your favorite educational sites. From the Web Content menu, tap Allowed Websites Only. You can add websites to this list by scrolling down and tapping Add Website.
The free Avast Family Space app provides you with even more advanced and detailed content restriction options, allowing you to more finely manage your child’s internet experience. Four preset age ranges give you a tailored starting point for ensuring safe content, and you can adjust these further to meet your specific needs.
If you’re concerned about your child’s privacy online — and you rightfully should be — you can limit many of their phone’s privacy settings within the Screen Time app.
In the Content & Privacy Restrictions menu, scroll down to the Privacy settings. Here, you can prevent apps from tracking your child’s location, accessing their phone’s microphone and camera, viewing their contacts, and more. Web tracking is everywhere online, and it’s important to know how to protect your family's privacy.
Online gaming is incredibly popular these days. While much of the fun is harmless, some online games are notorious for the toxicity of their communities. Cyberbullying can be especially rampant in many online multiplayer games.
You can restrict your child’s ability to play online multiplayer games in the Game Center. From the Content Privacy & Restrictions menu, tap Content Restrictions, then scroll down to your Game Center options.
Here, you can block access to multiplayer games, prevent your child from adding friends via the Game Center, and block the ability to record their gameplay on their screens.
Some parents may want to keep a closer eye on their children than the built-in iOS parental controls will allow. If you’re looking to actively monitor your child’s iPhone or iPad activity, you’ve got two options.
Screen Time gives you some monitoring ability, but to get a fuller picture of what your child is getting up to online, you’ll want to consider a dedicated free iOS parental control app like Avast Family Space.
If you add your child’s Apple ID to the Screen Time app on your phone, you can keep tabs on their phone use — and prevent them from undoing this change. You’ll also get Screen Time reports, which tell you the apps your children are using and how long they spend with each one.
First, you’ll need to activate Apple’s Family Sharing tool on your device:
Open your Settings and tap your Apple ID (your name and picture) at the top of the menu.
Tap Set Up Family Sharing, and then tap Get Started on the next screen.
To focus on parental controls for iOS, tap Screen Time. Later, you can go back and activate Location Sharing as well, so you’ll always know where your children are.
Tap Add Child to add your child’s Apple ID to your Family Sharing account. If your child is under 13, you can create an Apple ID for them by tapping Create a Child Account. Choose the appropriate option for your family, then follow the on-screen instructions.
Now that you’ve set up Family Sharing for your Apple ID, you can add additional family members and choose which types of content and data to allow and share.
Go back to your Apple ID settings by opening Settings and tapping your Apple ID, as you did above. Then, scroll down and tap Family Sharing.
To add additional people to your Family Sharing account, tap Add Family Member…, then follow the on-screen instructions.
Underneath your listed family members, you’ll see options for sharing content and data. If you’re looking for iPhone and iPad parental controls, you’ll want to explore the Screen Time and Location Sharing options. Both of these options will let you monitor your children’s phones.
While Apple’s built-in iOS parental controls are strong, you’ll enjoy much stronger protection with specialized parental control software. The free Avast Family Space app is a comprehensive parental control suite that reassuringly gives you total oversight over how your children can use their mobile devices. Install it for free right here.
With Avast Family Space, you decide how your children engage with their phones. Check in on how they’re using their devices and set time limits on screen access. That will go a long way towards helping your kids focus on more productive activities like homework, practicing a musical instrument, or perhaps even going to bed at a reasonable hour!
Much of the internet can wait until your kids are older. For now, guide their online journey with Avast Family Space’s comprehensive range of content filters. Keep them safe online by blocking social media platforms and messaging apps, preventing access to adult content, restricting the use of mobile games, and more.
Whether your child is a new driver, a younger adolescent beginning to assert their independence, or even a particularly mobile toddler, Avast Family Space lets you keep track of your family’s whereabouts.
With Avast Family Space, you can get automated location updates so you always know when your child has left school, arrived home, or visited other locations. You’ll enjoy greater peace of mind, while your wayward child(ren) will be free to carry on as usual.
Smartphones are ideal child safety devices — it’s good for your kids to have a way to call for help if they need it, no matter where they are.
You can ensure that your children always have access to critical calling and SMS functions without the constant temptation of the internet by deactivating web access during critical time windows, such as at night or while they’re at school.
While Apple’s built-in parental controls are helpful, if you use a dedicated parental control app, you’ll enjoy far greater and more nuanced control over how your children engage with their phones and tablets.
Avast Family Space lets you monitor your children’s whereabouts and customize the way they interact with their phones. That way, you can prioritize their safety, studies, sleep, and health and well-being. And you might even regain some good old-fashioned family time.