How to Set Up Parental Controls on Your iPhone or iPad

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You are not the first parent to give your phone to a child for the purpose of amusing them, nor are you the first parent to get frustrated when you get it back, only to find your apps rearranged and deleted — and perhaps some interesting new purchases added, too. Here’s how to regain control over your phone.

1. Open Settings > General.

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2. Tap Restrictions. This is most useful for a device that will primarily be used by kids, but you can also use it in a pinch on your own phone.

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3. Tap Enable Restrictions.

MORE: Tech Tantrums: 6 Things Parents Need to Know

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4. Enter a passcode (you’ll need it to disable them later).

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5. Toggle on or off the apps you want to remain accessible, such as Safari or Camera. And toggle on or off the ability to install or delete apps. In particular, you’ll want to toggle off In-App Purchases. 

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6. Block Explicit media by selecting the arrow next to Music, Podcasts (& iTunes U on the iPad) and toggling that switch to Off.

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7. Tap back to Restrictions and tap Movies. From here you can set one ratings are acceptable for your child to watch. 

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8. Tap back to Restrictions and tap TV Shows. Select at what level of maturity your child must be to watch specific TV shows.

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9. Tap back to Restrictions and tap Books. Then toggle off Explicit Sexual Content. 

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10. Prevent Siri from using explicit language by tapping back to Restrictions > Siri and then toggling off Explicit Language. You can also stop Siri from searching the Web. 

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11. Tap back to Restrictions > Apps and select the appropriate age range for the Apps your child can download. 

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12. Limit your child’s access to adult online content, or only allow a handful of sites to work by tapping back to Restrictions > Websites and selecting the right option. 

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13. Stop your child from adding friends to games in Game Center by flipping the Adding Friends toggle switch at the bottom of the page to Off.

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14. Go back to Settings > General and tap Accessibility.

15. Scroll to Guided Access under Learning. This will allow you to set a single app that your child can access. Flip the toggle to On.

16. Open the app you want them to be able to use.

17. Triple click on the home screen, press Start and hand over your device.

18. Turn off Guided access by triple clicking on the home screen and tapping end. Enter your passcode, and you’ll get back full control over your unmolested device.  

Anna Attkisson
Anna Attkisson
A lover of lists and deadlines, Anna Attkisson covers apps, social networking, tablets, chromebooks and accessories. She loves each of her devices equally, including the phablet, three tablets, three laptops and desktop. She joined the Laptop Mag staff in 2007, after working at Time Inc. Content Solutions where she created custom publications for companies from American Express to National Parks Foundation.
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  1. Mobicip Says:


    Thanks for a great article! A lot of parents struggle with setting up the iPhone for kids and this article will certainly help them. Just one more thing to add. Yes, Safari can be turned off. But if the parent wants to allow safe internet access, there are alternate Safe Browser apps available on the App Store, like the one from Mobicip. Most of them are free and worth a try.

    Mobicip’s Safe Browser is a fully functional browser just like Safari, but it also makes sure that objectionable content is blocked. What is blocked and allowed can be customized by the parent, and the browsing history can be accessed remotely at It will help if you could highlight and review such apps in an article like this.

    Disclosure: This reply is posted by a Mobicip representative who may stand to gain indirectly from it.

  2. jeff Says:

    But what about a filter to control what is accessed through downloaded apps like pinterest or Facebook? is there such a thing?

  3. anna Says:

    why is it So hard to put parental controls on my daughters phone!
    I have Sprint service &SHE HAs 15 phone.we cannot put control on the phone. if i knew this i would not of purchased this phone .HELP!!

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