How to Block Websites on the iPhone

Prevent your kids from viewing adult content on the internet

Child using iPhone

Inti St Clair / Getty Images

With so much adult content on the web, many parents want to block their kids from visiting those websites on the iPhone. The iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch include built-in tools that control which websites kids can visit. These tools are flexible and can go beyond blocking specific websites. These tools can also be used to create a set of sites that are the only websites kids can use.

With iOS 12, Apple moved the option to block websites to the Screen Time settings. In iOS 8 through iOS 11, the feature is located in the Restrictions settings. Instructions for both are included in this article.

How to Access Restrictions

The feature that allows adults to block access to websites is located in the Screen Time settings or Restrictions, depending on the iOS version on the iPhone your child uses. Use it to turn off features, hide apps, prevent certain types of communication and, most importantly, block content.

These settings are protected by a passcode, so a child can't change them, and are built into iOS, the operating system for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. You don't need to download an app or sign up for a service to protect your kids.

How to Block Websites in iOS 12

Apple introduced Screen Time settings in iOS 12 and moved the Restrictions settings there.

To block websites on the iPhone:

  1. On the iPhone Home screen, tap Settings.

  2. Tap Screen Time.

  3. Select Content & Privacy Restrictions.

    Settings > Screen Time > Content & Privacy Restrictions on an iPhone
  4. Enter a passcode when instructed to do so. It can be any four-digit combination.

    This passcode prevents your children from changing the restrictions you set in place.

  5. Turn on the Content & Privacy Restrictions toggle switch. You may be prompted to enter your system passcode to continue.

  6. Tap Content Restrictions.

  7. Select Web Content.

  8. Tap Limit Adult Websites.

    Content Restrictions, Web Content, and Limit Adult Websites options in iOS Settings
  9. Exit the Settings app to save the Screen Time settings.

How to Block Websites in iOS 8 Through iOS 11

To block websites in iOS 8 through iOS 11, use the Restrictions settings:

  1. Open the Settings app on your iOS device.

  2. Tap General.

  3. Tap Restrictions.

  4. Enter a four-digit passcode to protect the settings. Use something your kids won't be able to guess.

    General > Restrictions > Passcode entry screen in iOS
  5. Tap Enable Restrictions. Enter the passcode again to confirm it.

  6. On the Restrictions screen, go to the Allowed Content section and tap Websites.

  7. Tap Limit Adult Content.

    Enable restrictions for websites in iOS
  8. Leave the Settings app. Your choice to block adult sites is automatically saved, and the passcode protects it.

While blocking adult content this way is helpful, it's broad. You may find that it blocks sites that aren't adult and lets other sites slip through. Apple can't rate every website on the internet, so it relies on third-party ratings, which aren't perfect. If you find that your kids are able to visit sites you don't want them to, set up a list that contains only the websites they are approved to visit.

Restrict Web Browsing to Approved Sites Only 

Instead of relying on Screen Time (or Restrictions) to filter the entire internet, use the feature to create a set of websites that are the only ones your kids can visit. This gives you more control and is suitable for young children.

This feature is located on the same screen as Limit Adult Content, reachable by following the instructions in either section above.

Remove Websites From the Approved List

The iPhone is preconfigured with a set of websites that are suitable for children, including Apple, Disney, PBS Kids, National Geographic - Kids, and others.

To remove or add sites on this list:

  1. In the restricted websites screen, tap Allowed Websites Only in iOS 12 (or Specific Websites Only in iOS 8 through iOS 11).

  2. Swipe left on any website you want to remove from the approved list, then tap Delete.

    Swipe left and tap Delete to remove access to a website in iOS
  3. Repeat for every site you want to delete.

Add Websites to the Approved List

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

  1. Scroll to the bottom of the approved websites list and tap Add Website.

  2. In the Title text box, enter the name of the website.

  3. In the URL text box, enter the website address.

    Web Content menu in iOS settings with the Add Website button highlighted
  4. Tap Web Content (or Websites) to go back to the previous screen. Repeat for as many sites as you want.

  5. Exit the settings. The sites you added are automatically saved. 

If your kids go to a website that's not on the approved list, they see a message saying the site is blocked. It contains an Allow Website link so that you can add it to the approved list if they ask and you agree, but they can't add it themselves without the passcode.

Other Content Blocking Options

Blocking adult websites isn't the only control you can use on your kids' iPhone or iPad. In these same settings, you can block music with explicit lyrics, prevent in-app purchases, and more using the built-in features available in the Screen Time and Restrictions settings.