How To Set Parental Controls On Streaming Devices

How to keep your kids safe on Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV, and Chromecast

A small girl and her mother using a laptop together at home
Kids love media entertainment, but steps should be taken to ensure what they access is age appropriate. Sneksy / Getty Images

The internet offers a wealth of resources, everything from information to entertainment and all in between. But before allowing young ones to explore content, it’s a good idea to first establish guidelines to keep kids safe online. After that comes the task of setting parental controls on all accessible devices. Curiosity tends to be far more compelling to kids than remembering rules, so it’s up to us to help them out the right way.

Here's how to set parental controls for:

  • Amazon Fire TV

  • Roku

  • Apple TV

  • Chromecast

Each of these media players have strengths and limitations, so redundancies can help cover some gaps. For example, many modern routers can bolster internet parental controls through features or settings. But the best way to get started is to make sure you lock down the devices.

01
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Amazon Fire TV

The Amazon Fire TV device along with remote control
Amazon offers viewing restrictions for its video content as well as some third-party providers. Courtesy of Amazon

In order to set Amazon Fire TV parental controls, you first need to create an Amazon Video PIN for the account. The PIN is required for purchasing videos (helps to prevent accidental orders) and enabling/bypassing parental controls. Once the PIN has been created, parental control settings can be managed directly on individual Amazon Fire devices: Amazon Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, Fire Tablet, and Fire Phone.

  1. Log into your Amazon account through a web browser (or Amazon Video app for Android/iOS).

  2. Click on Your Account to bring up the account page, and then click on Video Settings (underneath the Digital Content and Devices section).

  3. You may be prompted to re-enter login information and/or input a security code (if two-step verification is enabled for the account) before proceeding to the Amazon Video Settings page.

  4. On the Amazon Video Settings page, scroll down to the section for Parental Controls, enter a 5-digit number to create the PIN, and click on the Save button to set it. You can also choose to reset the PIN from this same page.

  5. Underneath Parental Controls is the option to enable/disable Purchase Restrictions. Turn this on if you want video purchases to require the PIN. (Note, this must also be set on individual Fire TV and Fire Tablet devices).

  6. Underneath Purchase Restrictions is the option to set Viewing Restrictions. Adjust the slider to set the ratings categories restrictions for videos (a lock symbol will appear for the content requiring the PIN to watch). These settings can be applied to all or some of the devices associated with the Amazon account by selecting the appropriate checkboxes that appear. Click on Save when finished.

Now that you’ve set the Amazon Video PIN, you can turn on and manage parental controls on Fire TV devices. These actions will have to be performed on each separate device (if more than one).

  1. Using the Fire TV remote, select Settings from the top menu. Scroll through the options and click on Preferences (center button). You should be prompted to enter in your PIN.

  2. Once in Preferences, click on Parental Controls to view the settings you can change.

  3. Click to toggle on/off: Parental Controls, Purchase Protection, App Launches, and Prime Photos.

  4. Click on Viewing Restrictions to show the ratings categories of Amazon Video content (general, family, teen, mature). Checkmarks indicate that videos of those categories are available to watch without restrictions. Click to uncheck the categories (the icon should now show a lock symbol) that you want to have restricted by the Amazon Video PIN.

Just know that these viewing restrictions only apply to content from Amazon Video and some select third-party providers. Other third-party channels (e.g. Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, etc.) enjoyed through Amazon Fire TV will need parental controls set separately within each respective account.

02
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Roku

The Roku Ultra media streaming device with remote and earbuds
Some Roku devices can receive and restrict receive over-the-air broadcast television through an attached antenna. Courtesy of Amazon

In order to set parental controls on Roku devices, you first need to create a PIN for the Roku account. This PIN is required for future access the Parental Controls Menu on Roku devices. It is also lets users add/purchase channels, movies, and shows from the Roku Channel Store. The PIN doesn’t filter channels or block content; that job is up to the parent(s).

  1. Log in to your Roku account through a web browser (via computer or mobile device).

  2. Select Update underneath PIN Preference and then select the option to always require a PIN to make purchases and to add items from the Channel Store.

  3. Enter a 4-digit number to create the PIN, select Verify PIN to confirm, and then select Save Changes.

Once the PIN has been made, channels can be removed (thereby inaccessible to kids) if deemed inappropriate. Items – Movie Store, TV Store, News – can also be hidden from the main screen.

  1. Using the Roku remote, select My Channels from the Roku home screen.

  2. Navigate to the channel you want to have removed and then click the Options button (the * key) on the remote.

  3. Select Remove Channel and then click OK. Do this once more when prompted to confirm removal of the channel.

  4. Repeat the above steps for any other channels you want to have removed. Channels can also be removed via the Roku app for Android/iOS.

  5. To hide items (Movie/TV Store and News), access the Roku device’s Settings Menu and select Home Screen. From there, select Hide for the Movie/TV Store and/or News Feed. You can always choose to Show them again.

If you have a Roku TV set to receive over-the-air broadcast television content (via external antenna connected to the Roku Antenna TV input), you can restrict access based on TV/movie ratings. Programs will be blocked if they fall outside the specified rating limits.

  1. Using the Roku remote, access the Roku device’s Settings Menu and select TV Tuner. Wait for the device to finish scanning for channels (if it does).

  2. Select Enable Parental Controls and then turn it on. Set the desired TV/movie ratings limits and/or choose to block unrated programs. Blocked programs will not show video, audio, or title/description (unless the Roku PIN is entered).

Some third-party channels (e.g. Amazon Video, Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, etc.) enjoyed through Roku will need parental controls set separately within each respective account.

03
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Apple TV

The Apple TV device with remote in black
Apple TV can restrict purchases/rentals, movies/shows, apps, music/podcasts, ratings, Siri, games, and more. Apple

In order to set Apple TV parental controls (also known as ‘Restrictions’), you first need to create a PIN for the Apple TV. This PIN is required for future access to Restrictions in the Settings Menu. It may also be required for purchases/rentals, depending on how restrictions are set.

  1. Using the Apple TV remote, select the Settings app at the bottom of the Home Screen.

  2. In this Settings Menu, Select General from the list of options shown.

  3. In this General Menu, Select Restrictions from the list of options shown.

  4. In this Restrictions Menu, Select Restrictions to turn it on, and then enter a 4-digit number to create the PIN (passcode). Re-enter those numbers once more to confirm, then select OK to continue.

  5. Within this same Restrictions Menu are options to customize access to purchases/rentals, movies/shows, apps, music/podcasts, ratings, Siri filtering, multiplayer games, and more.

  6. Scroll through the various restrictions and set the desired preferences (e.g. allow/ask, restrict, block, show/hide, yes/no, explicit/clean, ages/ratings).

Some third-party channels (e.g. Amazon Video, Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, etc.) enjoyed through Apple TV will need parental controls set separately within each respective account.

04
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Chromecast

The Google Chromecast Ultra media streamer plugged into the back of a black television set
Chromecast does not offer built-in parental controls, since it's only an adapter that streams content from computers. Google

Chromecast does not offer built-in parental controls – it’s merely an HDMI adapter that lets computer content stream directly to TVs or receivers over a wireless network. This means that access/limitations will need to be set by the operating system, account settings of media streaming services (e.g. Amazon Video, Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, etc), and/or web browsers. Here is how to: