How to Use Safari Parental Controls

Restrict content on a child's iPhone, iPad, or computer

If you're a parent who wants to protect your kids while they browse the web, you need to learn how to use Safari Parental Controls on the iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Parental Controls are tools built into the operating systems on these devices that let you block adult content, set a list of websites your kids can visit, track their web browsing, and much more.

Make sure to apply these settings on the devices used by your kids, not your own. The only exception is if you use Family Sharing on the Mac. In that case, you can use your own Mac and apply the settings for each kid.

A father and daughter sitting on a couch using a tablet computer
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How to Use Safari Parental Controls on iPhone

The Parental Controls available for Safari on iPhone are part of Screen Time. Screen Time does a lot more than just control Safari, as it can also help you set limits of device use. To use it to control Safari, follow these steps:

The instructions in this section apply to iPhones and iPod touches running iOS 12 and up.

  1. Tap Settings.

  2. Tap Screen Time.

  3. Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions.

    Screenshots showing how to navigate to Screen Time Content & Privacy Restrictions.
  4. Toggle the Content & Privacy Restrictions slider to on/green.

    If prompted, enter the Screen Time passcode for this device.

  5. Tap Allowed Apps. To disable Safari completely and prevent web browsing on this device, toggle the Safari slider to off/white.

    Screenshots showing how to disable Safari in iPhone Screen Time controls.
  6. Tap Content Restrictions.

  7. Tap Web Content.

  • To prevent access to Apple's list of adult websites on this phone, tap Limit Adult Websites. To add sites that are either always allowed or never allowed, tap Add Website, then add the address of the site.
  • To limit this device to only browsing a set of pre-defined websites, tap Allowed Websites Only. To add additional websites to this list, tap Add Website, then add the address of the site. To remove sites from the list, swipe right to left, then tap Delete.
Screenshots illustrating how to control web content in Content Restrictions on iPhone.

You may also prefer to block websites on the iPhone or just block ads in Safari. Both of those options are good, and follow slightly different steps than shown here, but only blocking ads may not provide all the censorship you need for children.

How to Use Safari Parental Controls on iPad

Because the iPhone and iPad use a very similar operating system, the Safari Parental Controls on iPad are basically the same as on iPhone. Both are part of Screen Time.

The instructions in this section apply to iPads running iPadOS 12 and up.

  1. Tap Settings.

    Screenshot of the iPad homescreen featuring the Settings app.
  2. Tap Screen Time.

    Screenshot of iPad Screen Time settings.
  3. Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions.

    Screenshot of iPad Content Restrictions settings.
  4. Toggle the Content & Privacy Restrictions slider to on/green.

    Screenshot of iPad Content Restrictions settings turned on.

    If prompted, enter the Screen Time passcode for this device.

  5. Tap Allowed Apps. To disable Safari completely and prevent web browsing on this iPad, toggle the Safari slider to off/white.

    Screenshot of iPad Allowed Apps settings
  6. Tap Content Restrictions, then tap Web Content.

    Screenshot of iPad Content Restrictions settings.
  7. In the Web Content section you can set permissions as you like:

  • To prevent access to Apple's list of adult websites on this iPad, tap Limit Adult Websites. To add sites that are either always allowed or never allowed, tap Add Website, then add the address of the site.
  • To limit this device to only browsing to a set of pre-defined websites, tap Allowed Websites Only. To add additional websites to this list, tap Add Website, then add the address of the site. To remove sites from the list, swipe right to left, then tap Delete.
Screenshot of iPad Limit Content settings turned on

How to Use Safari Parental Controls on Mac

The Mac uses Screen Time to give parents control over Safari, too, but the way you access Screen Time is very different. The instructions in this section apply to Macs running macOS Catalina (10.15) and higher.

Mac computers also have parental controls and Screen Time settings you can dig deeper into to limit access from one of those devices.

  1. Click the Apple logo > System Preferences > Screen Time.

    Remember, if you use Family Sharing, click the name of your kid whose settings you want to change. You'll find all of your kids in a menu in the left-hand sidebar.

  2. Click Content & Privacy.

  3. In the top right corner, click Turn On.

  4. To configure Safari Parental Controls, click Content, then choose one of the following:

  • Unrestricted Access: Click this to allow your child to access any site on the web.
  • Limit Adult Websites: Want to block websites that Apple has listed as adult? Choose this option. You can also add your own sites here.
  • Allowed Websites Only: Create a set of websites that are the only ones your kids can visit by adding their addresses to this list.