How to Set Up Parental Controls on Your iPhone and iPad

iPhones and iPads have tools in place to keep your children safe while they’re online. Here is how to set up parental controls in simple steps.
We receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

If you’re a parent, it makes sense that you want to protect your kids from inappropriate or malicious online content. Parental controls can block apps on your child’s iPhone or iPad. Using your Screen Time settings, you can also restrict the content you feel is inappropriate. If you want to block specific downloads, you can do that too.

Parental controls enable you to give your child the freedom to use an electronic device without the worry that sometimes comes with it. Let’s go over the steps needed to figure out how to set up parental controls on iPhone or iPad.

In this article
How to set up parental controls on iPhone and iPad
How to customize parental controls in iOS
iOS parental controls FAQs
Bottom line

How to set up parental controls on iPhone and iPad

Many parents feel concerned about the presence of their kids on social media and other online apps. Fortunately, Apple devices such as iPhones and iPads enable you to set parental controls through a few simple steps.

Follow these steps to create the restrictions you want your child’s iPhone or iPad to have:

  1. Go to Settings and click on Screen Time.

  1. Click Continue, and you’ll be asked whether this is your device or your child’s device. Use Screen Time Passcode to make sure your child and other family members cannot change your parental control settings. If you’re using iOS version 13.4 and later, you may need to enter your Apple ID and password.

  1. Click on Content & Privacy Restrictions to access more parental control options.

  1. Enter your passcode and turn on Content & Privacy Restrictions.

How to customize parental controls in iOS

There are several parental control customization options available on iOS devices. You can restrict iTunes and App Store purchases, prevent adult content and explicit language, and even choose the apps you want to allow.

Restrict iTunes and App Store purchases

iTunes has a massive stream of music, podcasts, and more, while the App Store has more than 1 million apps you can buy or download for free. One parental control you can set up is restricting what your child can buy to limit purchases made without your consent.

  1. Go to Settings and click on Screen Time.
  2. Click on Content & Privacy Restrictions. You may get asked to enter your passcode.
  3. Tap iTunes & App Store Purchases.
  4. Choose whether to allow or disallow each setting. You can also set up a password for in-app purchases.

Prevent adult content and explicit language

One of the common concerns many parents have when giving a child an iPhone or iPad is what they may be exposed to while they’re online. You can restrict access to music and content with explicit language or ratings.

  1. Go to Settings and tap Screen Time.
  2. Tap Content & Privacy Restriction. Then tap Content Restrictions.
  3. Define the settings you want to have in place for Allowed Store Content, Web Content, and Siri settings.

Choose allowed apps

You can decide what apps are restricted to hide them from the Home Screen and limit access to them. This setting can be used to limit your child’s access to certain apps, for example, by reducing how many social platforms they can access to help them stay safe on social media.

  1. Go to Settings and click Screen Time.
  2. Click Content & Privacy Restrictions. If prompted, enter your Screen Time passcode.
  3. Click Allowed Apps and choose the specific apps you want to allow or restrict.

Define privacy settings

The privacy settings allow you to control the device-stored information apps can access. You can define app limits such as access to the camera, location sharing, contact viewing, and more.

  1. Go to Settings and click Screen Time.
  2. Go to Content & Privacy Restrictions. You may be prompted to enter your passcode.
  3. Click Privacy, and choose the settings you want to restrict.

  1. Go to Settings and choose Screen Time.
  2. Select Content & Privacy Restriction and tap Content Restrictions.
  3. Choose the content types you want to restrict.

iOS parental controls FAQs


Can I see what my child is doing on their iPhone?

You can get reports about how your child uses their iPhone after you set up Family Sharing. This feature allows you to track usage, set time limits, and view websites your child visits. It even provides reports that show specific app usage.


How can I see my child’s iPhone text messages?

You can forward your child’s iPhone text messages in the Messages section under your Settings by enabling Text Message Forwarding. Here’s how:

  1. Go to Settings, then Messages.
  2. Select Text Message Forwarding.
  3. Enter your Apple ID if prompted.
  4. Add a device that will be able to view messages delivered to this iPhone.


Can I control what my child watches on their iPad?

Yes, you can control what your child watches on their iPad by using the Screen Time setting to restrict inappropriate content you don’t want your child to view. This allows you to set content restrictions to limit adult websites or block explicit TV shows, movies, and more.

Bottom line

It’s common for children to have iPhones or iPads. That’s why Apple includes many customizable parental controls you can use to restrict the features you don’t want your child to have. You can limit purchases, apps, content, and access to personal data.

Parental control settings can help make your children safer online. Keep in mind that these settings may not prevent all explicit content. For example, inappropriate content sent via a chat app may avoid these restrictions, apps may still be vulnerable to breaches, and your child’s identity may not be fully protected. Learn about child identity theft and how to protect against it.

Editorial Rating
Learn More
On Bark Premium's website
Parental Controls
Bark Premium
  • Machine learning catches the latest slang and keywords
  • Screens content across 19 categories
  • Activity can only be viewed if it’s triggered
Author Details
Patti Croft is a seasoned writer specializing in technology, with three years of experience. With a B.S. in Computer Science and a background as a technical analyst and security specialist, she covers a range of topics like data security and parental control software.