How to Set up and Use Restrictions on an iPhone

Set age-appropriate restrictions on your child's iPhone

Don't peer over your child's shoulder to monitor their activities on an iOS device. Instead, use tools included in iOS to control the content, apps, and other features your child accesses. These tools—formerly called iPhone Restrictions and now part of the Screen Time tool—cover a comprehensive set of Apple services and apps.

These instructions work for all currently supported versions of iOS.

How to Enable iPhone Restrictions 

To enable and configure these controls, follow these steps: 

  1. Tap Settings > Screen Time > Content & Privacy Restrictions.

  2. Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions so that the toggle switch shows green/on. From that screen, configure specific preferences as you need.

    Turning on Content & Privacy Restrictions on an iPhone
  3. Optionally, go to the Screen Time settings screen and tap Use Screen Time Passcode to set a four-digit PIN. This PIN is not the same as your device passcode. When the Screen Time Passcode is activated, use this four-digit PIN to override restrictions or to change settings.

Use the Set Up Screen Time for Family tool to link your child's iOS device based on Apple IDs. With it activated, you can set permissions remotely and view screen-time reports for each connected device.

Fine-Tuning Restrictions

The Content & Privacy Restrictions screen offers three groups.

The first group opens a set of menus:

  • iTunes & App Store Purchases: Configures purchases and downloads.
  • Allowed Apps: Sets which apps are allowed to launch.
  • Content Restrictions: Puts ratings (for example, for movies and music) into effect on the device.

The next section, for privacy settings, authorizes changes to privacy configurations. The final section, called Allow Changes, sets limits on what the device can do to change its own settings.

If you decide to turn off parental controls on an iPhone, by the way, it's pretty easy to do.

The privacy and allow-changes screens don't configure the device. Rather, these groups fine-tune which system-level settings may be changed by a normal user of the device when Content & Privacy restrictions are active. For example, setting the Share My Location option to Don't Allow means that any changes to location-sharing must be confirmed by the four-digit PIN. These settings are useful to stop a child from changing critical configuration.