How to Set and Use Apple TV Parental Controls

Control what your kids can watch and when

Apple TV parental controls

The Apple TV streaming box is an easy way to watch TV shows and movies, as well as play games. With all that entertainment available at the click of a button, it's easy for anyone in the family to fire up the Apple TV and start watching.

If you have kids, however, there are probably some apps and content you want to hide from them (think having kids under 10 and NC-17 movies being available). There also might just be content you don't want to appear for anyone in the family, adults included. 

With the Apple TV Restrictions settings, you can customize the content that is available through your device, including, TV shows and movies, explicit language in podcasts, and more.

How to Turn on Restrictions on Apple TV

Apple TV Restrictions main page
Apple/Human Interface Guidelines

No matter which generation of Apple TV you have, the parental controls (or Restrictions, as they're now known) are available in the same place. 

Before you begin, make sure you have the latest software for your Apple TV. Then, to lock apps or features of your Apple TV from your kids:

  1. Go to Settings > General > Restrictions.

  2. Select Restrictions to turn it on. 

  3. When asked, choose a four-digit passcode to lock the option. Choose a passcode you'll remember easily.

  4. Enter the four digits again to confirm, then click OK. The full Restriction menu is now visible and you can further customize the parental controls. 

You can customize the different features available on your Apple TV by setting the various restrictions available on the Restrictions page (the available options depend on your Apple TV generation).

Customizing Your Apple TV Parental Controls

Restrictions on Apple TV 4K or 4th Generation

If you have a 4K or 4th generation Apple TV, you can set the following parental controls on features and apps:

  • Allow: Allow all apps or features.
  • Restrict: Require a four-digit Apple TV passcode for any purchases, rentals, or app usage. 
  • Block or No: Block specific content or features.
  • Show or Yes: Leave apps, options, or features unprotected by the passcode.
  • Hide: Hide an app or feature from users.

Enabling Specific Restrictions on the Apple TV 4K or 4th Generation

iTunes Store Restrictions

  1. In the iTunes Store section, click Purchase and Rental.

    Apple TV iTunes parental controls
    Original image: iPhoneHacks.com
  2. Choose Restrict to require children to enter a passcode or Block to prevent them from purchasing or renting anything through the iTunes Store.

  3. Click In-App Purchases and choose Restrict to require children a passcode for any in-app purchases or Block to prevent all purchases.

You can also customize your iTunes Store and App Store password preferences through the Password Settings options on your Apple TV. 

Allowed Content

Apple TV allowed content restrictions
Original image: iPhoneHacks.com

In the Allowed Content section, set the restrictions for each of the six options as follows:

  • Music and Podcasts: Choose Clean to restrict explicit language.
  • Ratings For: Choose your country of residence to display movies and TV shows appropriate to the country (since countries may have different ratings for children, pre-teens, and teens). If using this option, you can skip the Movies, TV Shows, and Apps options below.
Apple TV Ratings For parental control
Original image:  iPhoneHacks.com
  • Movies: Choose the highest movie rating you would like to allow your children to watch. Your choice removes movies with ratings lower on the list as seen here. E.g. Choosing PG removes PG-13, R, and NC-17 from the United States rating list. Choose Don't Allow Movies to restrict movies from appearing at all on the Main Menu.
  • TV Shows: Choose the highest TV show rating you would like to allow your children to watch. Your choice removes shows with ratings lower on the list as seen here. E.g. Choosing TV-G removes TV-PG, TV-14, and TV-MA from the United States rating list. Choose Don't Allow TV Shows to restrict TV shows from appearing at all on the Main Menu.
  • Apps: Choose the rating level for individual apps as needed (based on the App Store ratings). This setting applies only to Apple-branded apps on your device; for third-party app control, you must block it on each app individually. Your choice will remove the lower ratings from the list. E.g. 9+ removes 12+ and 17+ shows, but allows 4+ and 9+ shows. 
  • Siri Explicit Language: Choose Hide to disable Siri from both using explicit language and accepting explicit language commands.
  • Multiplayer Games and Screen Recording: Choose No to prevent apps from allowing online multiplayer games and screen recording during gameplay.

Restricting Changes to Apple TV Advanced Options

To stop your kids from changing any of the more advanced options on your Apple TV, set the following options to Restrict:

  • AirPlay Settings
  • Conference Room Display
  • Location Services
  • TV Provider
  • Remote App Pairing

Restrictions on Apple TV 2nd or 3rd Generation

Parental controls work slightly differently in the previous generations of Apple TVs, even with the latest software. 

If you have a 2nd or 3rd generation Apple TV, you can set the following parental controls on features and apps:

  • Hide: Hide the feature or app from the main menu.
  • Ask: Ask for a four-digit passcode for purchases, rentals, or app usage.
  • Show or Allow: Allow all apps or features.

Enabling Specific Restrictions on the Apple TV 2nd or 3rd Generation

  • Purchases & Rentals: Set this option to Hide to block it completely or Ask to require a passcode to use it.
  • Movies & Shows: Choose to use the location-based ratings for movies and TV shows or block content based on individual ratings for movies and shows.
  • Explicit Music or Podcasts: Select Ask to require a passcode to allow explicit language in podcasts and music. 
  • AirPlay Settings: Choose Hide to block kids from changing AirPlay settings completely or Ask to require a passcode to access it.
  • Conference Room Display Settings: Choose Hide to block kids from accessing these settings. 

Enabling App-level Restrictions on Any Apple TV

The built-in restriction settings apply to the native apps on your Apple TV. To enable the parental lock on third-party apps, you must change the permissions on each app individually, no matter which generation of Apple TV you have.

  1. Go to Settings > Main Menu.

  2. Pick the app to lock.

  3. Choose the appropriate setting based on your device:

  • For 4K and 4th generation Apple TVs: Select Hide to hide it completely or Restrict to require a passcode to access it.
  • For 2nd and 3rd generation Apple TVs: Select Hide to hide it completely or Ask to require a passcode to access it.

Changing Your Apple TV Parental Controls Passcode

Once you've got all of the Apple TV parental locks set, you might want to periodically change the passcode associated with it. 

Apple TV passcode entry
 Apple/Human Interface Guidelines
  1. Go to Settings > General > Restrictions.

  2. Enter your current passcode.

  3. Click Change Passcode.

  4. Enter the new passcode and re-enter it to confirm.

  5. Click Save.