How to Block Websites on the iPhone

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With so much adult content on the web, parents may want to learn how to block those websites on the iPhone. Luckily, there are tools built into the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch that allow them to control which websites their kids can visit.

In fact, these tools are so flexible that they can go beyond just blocking some sites. They can also be used to create a set of sites that are the only websites their kids can use.

The Feature You Need: Content Restrictions

The feature that allows you to block access to websites is called Content Restrictions. You can use it to turn off features, hide apps, prevent certain kinds of communication and, most importantly for this article, block content. All of these settings are protected by a passcode, so a kid can't easily change them.

Content Restrictions is built into the iOS, the operating system that runs on the iPhone and iPad. That means you don't need to download an app or sign up for a service to protect your kids (though those are options, as we'll see at the end of the article).

How to Block Websites on the iPhone Using Content Restrictions

To block websites, begin by turning on Content Restrictions by following these steps:

  1. Tap Settings
  2. Tap General
  3. Tap Restrictions
  4. Tap Enable Restrictions
  5. Enter a four-digit passcode to protect the settings. Use something your kids won't be able to guess
  1. Enter the passcode again to confirm it.

With that, you've enabled Content Restrictions. Now, follow these steps to configure them to block mature websites:

  1. On the Restrictions screen, go to the Allowed Content section and tap Websites
  2. Tap Limit Adult Content
  3. Tap Restrictions in the top left corner or leave the Settings app and go do something else. Your choice is automatically saved and the passcode protects it.

    While it's nice to have this feature, it's pretty broad. You may find that it blocks sites that aren't adult and lets some others slip through. Apple can't rate every website on the Internet, so it relies on third-party ratings which aren't necessarily complete or perfect.

    If you find that your kids are still able to visit sites you don't want them to, there are two other options.

    Restrict Web Browsing to Approved Sites Only 

    Instead of relying on Content Restrictions to filter the entire Internet, you can use the feature to create a set of websites that are the only ones your kids can visit. This gives you more control and predictability, and may especially be good for younger kids.

    To use this feature, follow both tutorials above, but instead of tapping Limit Adult Content, tap Specific Websites Only.

    The iPhone is preconfigured with a set of these websites, including Apple, Disney, PBS Kids, National Geographic - Kids, and more. You can remove sites from this list by following these steps:

    1. Tap Edit
    2. Tap the red circle next to the site you want to delete
    3. Tap Delete
    4. Repeat for every site you want to delete
    5. When you've finished, tap Done.

    To add new sites to this list, follow these steps:

    1. Tap Add a Website... at the bottom of the screen
    1. In the Title field, type in the name of the website
    2. In the URL field, type in the website address (for example: http://www.lifewire.com)
    3. Repeat for as many sites as you want
    4. Tap Websites to go back to the previous screen. The sites you added are automatically saved. 

    Now, if your kids try to go to a site that's not on this list, they'll get a message saying the site is blocked. There's an Allow Website link allows you to quickly add it to the approved list—but you need to know the Content Restrictions passcode in order to do that.

    Other Options for Kid-Friendly Web Browsing

    If the iPhone's built-in tool for blocking websites isn't powerful or flexible enough for you, there are other options.

    These are alternative web browser apps you install on the iPhone. Use Content Restrictions to disable Safari and leave one of them as the only web browser on your kids' devices. Some options include:

    • MetaCert Safe Browser for Education—This browser only works on the iPad. It offers customizable filtering and blocking, and reporting for parents. The app costs US$7.99 and includes in-app purchases of $0.99 and $1.99. Download at iTunes
    • Mobicip Safe Browser—Offers a free version with basic features or paid tiers that provide more reporting to parents, the ability to set time limits of Intenet usage, and support for up to 5 devices. App is free; subscription is $39.99/year. Download at iTunes

    Go Further: Other Parental Control Options

    Blocking adult websites isn't the only kind of parental control you can use on your kids' iPhone or iPad. You can block music with explicit lyrics, prevent in-app purchases, and much more using the built-in Content Restrictions feature. For more tutorials and tips, read 14 Things You Must Do Before Giving Kids iPod touch or iPhone.