Using iPhone Content Restrictions

How to Set Age-Appropriate Restrictions on Your Child's iPhone

iphone content restrictions
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Parents who are concerned about what their kids see or do while using an iPhone or iPod touch can use tools included in iOS to control the content, apps and other features their children can access. These tools cover a comprehensive list of Apple services and apps, and they offer concerned parents a way to set up parental controls they can modify as the child grows. The controls are found in the Restrictions section of the Settings app.

Enabling Content Restrictions 

To enable these restrictions: 

  1. Tap the Settings app on the iPhone to which you want to replace restrictions.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Tap Restrictions. 
  4. Tap Enable Restrictions.
  5. You'll be prompted to create a four-digit passcode that gives you—not your child—access to the restriction settings on the iPhone. Each time you need to access or change the restrictions screen you have to enter this code, so select a number you can easily remember. Don't use the same passcode that unlocks the iPhone, or your child will be able to change any of the content restriction settings if he can unlock the phone.

Navigating the Restrictions Screen

The Restrictions screen displays a lengthy list of apps and features that you can enable or block on the phone. Go through each section and make a decision based on your child's age and your preferences. Next to each item is a slider. Move the slider to the "On" position to allow your child to access the app or feature.

Move the slider to the "Off" position to block  access. In iOS 7 and up, the "On" position is indicated by a green bar on the slider and the "Off" position is indicated by a white bar. In iOS 6 and earlier, move the slider to "On" or "Off."

  • The first section, entitled "Allow" includes a series of apps and tools that include Safari, Camera, Siri and FaceTime, among others. Any app you turn off is completely hidden from your child—it won't display on the iPhone Home screen. Moving the slider back to the "On" position restores the app to the iPhone.

    The next section gives you control over access to Apple's online content stores.

    • Included in this section are the iTunes Store, the iBooks Store, Apple Music, the Podcasts library, and access to the App Store. If you disable these, your child won't be able to buy or download content from Apple. 
    • There are two other useful controls here: Deleting Apps and In-App Purchases. You might disable Deleting Apps if you want to make sure that certain apps stay installed on the device no matter what. Turn off In-App Purchases to prevent your kids from running up a big bill from iTunes without your permission or by mistake. If you only make one selection in the Restrictions settings, make this one to prevent unpleasant financial surprises.

    The third section of the Restrictions Screen is labeled "Allowed Content." It controls the type and maturity level of content your child can view on the iPhone.

    • Ratings For: Choose the country whose rating system you want to apply to content. It makes sense to choose the country you live in, but many are available.
    • Music & Podcasts & News: Use this to determine whether explicit content can be played or viewed on the iPhone. In the case of music, this setting only works with content from the iTunes Store. If the iPhone contains music downloaded from other locations or ripped from CDs, the phone won't know whether the content is explicit, and it will play it. This is also true of movies and TV episodes obtained from other sources than iTunes.
    • Movies: Chose the highest rating level you want to allow by tapping it, from G to NC-17. The TV Shows, Books and Apps selections work similarly.
    • Siri: Control whether Siri can speak or search for explicit language.
    • Websites: Restrict your kids from visiting adult websites (as determined by Apple) or for even greater control create a list of websites they can visit and block them from all others.

    The section labeled "Privacy" gives you a lot of control over the privacy and security settings on your child's iPhone. These settings are too extensive to cover in detail here. To learn more about them, read Using iPhone Privacy Settings.

    The section contains privacy settings for Location Services, Contacts, Calendars, Reminders, Photos and other apps and features.

    Note: if you leave Safari available, Apple does not provide a way to turn off Private Browsing in Safari.

    The next section, labeled "Allow Changes," prevents your child from making changes to certain features in the iPhone.

    • Accounts: If you disable this feature, your child won't be able to add or delete accounts in the built-in Mail, Contacts, and Calendars apps.
    • Cellular Data Use: Use this to allow or block your child from turning on or off cellular data. 
    • Background App Refresh: This feature is a slight drain on battery life, so you might decide to turn it off. 
    • Volume Limit: To prevent hearing damage in your child, you may have set a volume limit for audio playback. This setting prevents the child from changing that limit.

    If you use iOS 9 or earlier on your iPhone, you may see a Game Center section. Apple discontinued Game Center in 2016 with the release of iOS 10.

    Disabling Content Restrictions

    When the day comes that your child's phone is used by an adult again, disable all the content restrictions to return the iPhone to its out-of-the-box settings. Removing restrictions is much faster than setting them up. To disable all content restrictions, go to the Restrictions screen and tap the Disable Restrictions button at the top of the screen. Re-enter your passcode. You're done.