How to set-up Parental Controls on an iPhone or iPad


If you’ve bought a new iPhone or iPad for your kids, and want to make sure they stay safe, this guide will help you get it set up right. We’ll cover safe browsing, make sure they don’t download anything they shouldn’t, spend money on your account, and a few other tips to make sure they're protected.

There’s two main parts to setting up parental controls on your Apple device – setting up a Child Apple ID, and setting up restrictions on the device itself.

Setting up Family Sharing


Family Sharing lets you create a 'family' of Apple accounts that can share content. Setting up an ‘Apple ID for your Child’ and linking it to your own one will let you keep an eye on your kids and stop them downloading or buying things they shouldn’t. Family Sharing only works if you use an Apple device yourself – if you don’t, then skip down to the Restrictions bit below.

Setting up an Apple ID for your Child

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Open up Settings on your child's phone, and then tap Sign in on your phone.


Tap Don't have an Apple ID or forgot it?


Tap Create Apple ID.


Use the scrollers to put in your child's date of birth, then tap Next.

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Put in your kid's name, then tap Next. 


Tap Get a free iCloud email address.


Type in the email address you want to use for them, and tap Next.


Type in and repeat the password to use for the account, then tap Next.

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You'll need to choose some 'Security questions', and then put in the answers to them, which'll help if you ever forget the password. You'll be asked to put in three different questions before moving to the next step.


Tap Agree to accept the Terms and Conditions.


Tap Agree again.


When the account is set up, you'll see it listed in Settings.

Linking your Child account to your Family Sharing

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Open up Settings on your own phone, and tap your name at the top.


Tap on Family Sharing.


Tap Add Family Member.


Tap Invite in Person.

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Type in the Apple ID email address you made on your kid's phone.


Tap Ask Permission to Purchase, then tap Next.


Type in the password for your kid's account.



Tap Next again.

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Tap Share Location, then tap Next.


You should see a notification saying your family member has been added.


Tap on your kid's name and check that Ask to Buy is turned on.

The most important bits here are the steps about ‘Ask to buy’ and ‘Location sharing’ – we definitely recommend having them turned on. ‘Ask to buy’ will make sure that if your kids want to get an app or buy an in-app purchase, a request will come to your Apple device asking you to authorise it.

‘Location sharing’ will also make sure that you can always find them if you need to, and if they can’t find their device, you’ll be able to use the ‘Find My iPhone’ service to track it and make it ring.

Setting up Restrictions


Parental controls are set-up on your iPhone or iPad using the ‘Restrictions’ settings. These let you turn certain bits of the phone off and restrict access to adult websites and content. There are a lot of things that you can turn off, and which ones you do is really down to you and what things you think are suitable for your kids.

Rather than go through every setting, we’ve called out what we think will be the most important parts to look for in the restrictions settings. You’ll also need to set-up ‘Restrictions passcode’ so that your kids can’t go in and change anything.

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Open up Settings and go into General.


Tap on Restrictions.


Tap Enable Restrictions.


Type in a 4-digit code to use for them, and then type it again to confirm it.

This passcode will stop your kids from changing any of these settings, and you'll need it whenever you want to change any of the settings.

Restricting downloads and purchases

If you want to restrict app downloads, or make sure your kids can’t uninstall apps, you can turn the switches off for Installing and Deleting Apps. That's useful if you want to only let them play games or use apps that you’ve downloaded (and don't want accidentally deleted).

You can also disable In-App Purchases which will stop your kids from potentially spending hundreds on consumable items. These are things like Gems or Coins in games that let you get through levels faster or unlock new items. You don’t have to disable this if you’ve set-up Family Sharing, as you’ll be notified and asked before any purchases take place (though you might want to turn it off if you're getting too many requests).

Using Content ratings


Parental controls are set-up on your iPhone or iPad using the ‘Restrictions’ settings. These let you turn bits of the phone off, and restrict access to adult websites and content. There are a lot of things that you can turn off, meaning you get the final say on what's right for your children. 

Restricting access to websites


Depending on how old your kids are, you might want to stop them going on any adult sites, or even restricting web usage to only allow child-friendly websites. Tap on Websites and you’ll see a few options. The first is Limit Adult Content (determined by Apple) which will try and filter out adult websites, and you can manually add ones to block or allow.

The second option is Specific Websites only, which blocks access to all websites except ones you specify. There’s some already added such as CBeebies and Disney, and you can add extras yourself.

Restricting accounts, location and volume


Towards the bottom are some more restrictions that aren't strictly parental controls, but they are settings you should definitely check. The first is the Account section, which controls whether accounts can be added or removed.

If you’re using an Apple ID for a child on the phone, you should definitely use this to make sure they can’t remove it. Likewise, you should check the Location setting to make sure this is always turned on so that you can keep track of where your kids are. You should also adjust the Mobile data setting to make sure it's turned on (it's used along with Location to keep track of where the device is).

You can adjust the Volume limit on the phone, which stops the volume from being turned up too loud and potentially causing hearing issues if your kids listen to a lot of music or use headphones.

Hopefully, these tips will help you to keep your kids safe with their Apple device. We’ve only covered the main restrictions here, but there’s lots more to look through, so it’s worth browsing all the restrictions for others you think you might need. 

And if you'd like any extra help, you can get in touch with an expert from Team Knowhow here.

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