How to Turn On Restrictions and Enable iPad Parental Controls

Kids using an iPad

 Thijs Knaap / Flickr

The iPad contains customizable parental controls that let you disable features like FaceTime, iMessage and in-app purchases. You can also regulate certain features, such as limiting the websites your child is able to visit using the Safari browser or restricting downloads from the App Store to age-appropriate apps.

The iPad parental controls work by setting a four-digit passcode on the iPad. After you create a passcode, you can tailor the restrictions to your child's age and what areas of the iPad you want them to have access. This includes selecting the type of movies (G, PG, PG-13, etc.), music, and even limiting the device to certain websites.

The parental control passcode is separate from the code you use to unlock the iPad.

These instructions apply to devices running iOS 12 and later.

How to Turn On iPad Restrictions

The parental controls allow a fair amount of control over what is available on the iPad.

  1. Launch the Settings app.

    How to delete movies from iPad
  2. Tap Screen Time.

    Screen Time setting on iPad
  3. To set a passcode, tap Use Screen Time Passcode and enter a four-digit code when it prompts you. To change it later or turn it off, return to this screen, tap Change Screen Time Passcode, and follow the on-screen prompts.

    Setting this passcode is optional.

    Parent control on iPad
  4. To set content limits, tap Content & Privacy Restrictions.

    Content and Privacy Restrictions on iPad
  5. Enter the passcode you set up, and then tap the switch next to Content & Privacy Restrictions to on/green.

    Parent control on iPad restrictions
  6. Once you have the iPad's parental controls enabled, you will be able to set different restrictions and control some of the default applications that came with the iPad.

iPad Parental Control Settings

Parent controls on iPad

The Content & Restrictions menu contains dozens of settings for you to modify and control what can happen on your iPad. Here are some of the headings and what they do.

Each of these menus lets you set whether or not you lock access behind the passcode. Turn this setting on for maximum security.

  • iTunes & App Store Purchases lets you prevent people without the passcode from installing or deleting apps or making in-app purchases.
  • Allowed apps lets you permit or block access to entire programs. Ones you restrict in this menu won't appear on your home screen.
  • Content Restrictions is where you set limits on what kinds of media others can play on the iPad. This menu lets you block R-rated movies and TV shows with a TV-MA rating, podcasts with an Explicit rating, and web content. It's also possible to block books, music, and movies entirely.

The items under Privacy modify how the iPad behaves and what features are allowed. For example, in the Photos section, you can either restrict access to Photos or disable the ability to share Photos on social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter.

The Allow Changes heading lets you set limits to sections of the iPad's settings, like setting a passcode, volume control, and changes to the Apple ID account linked to the device.

Other Screen Time Settings

Parent controls on iPad restrictions

The main Screen Time menu has a few more restriction options. Downtime locks the device between specific hours of the day that you set. App Limits sets timers on how long you and your family can use certain apps each day. Always Allowed lets you bypass these two settings for certain programs you might want to access even during Downtime, like Messages.