Apple's Parental Controls - Everything You Need to Know

Apple's Parental Controls - Everything You Need to Know

If you’re a parent, then you know how difficult it is to control what kinds of things your child is exposed to in this digital age. The internet is a wealth of knowledge, and with that also comes downsides. There’s a lot of content out there that just isn’t appropriate for young children’s eyes. Luckily, Apple now has a plethora of vast parental controls for both the phone, tablet, or computer that help to limit what your child can see. In this article we lay it all out for you to easily read and understand.

iPhone & iPad

The way to restricting what your child can and cannot see starts with Screen Time. To get to this, go to Settings and then select Screen Time. Here you can add a Screen Time passcode (different from the password that unlocks your device) and/or set up Screen Time for Family. Adding a passcode to Screen Time allows you to make changes or restrictions without your child being able to change it back. Screen Time for Family allows you to adjust these restrictions across multiple devices.

Some features of Screen Time allow you to set a “Downtime” for your device. This only allows your device to function on the certain apps that you specify during this time period. Additionally, you can also use “App Limits”, where you are able to set time limits for apps. After the time limit is reached, the user is kicked off of that app until the next day. With these two features comes a third feature, “Always Allowed”. This lets you decide which apps are immune to these other settings. For example, you can choose to let Maps and Messages be exceptions to time limits and downtimes. This feature can be used for safety measures, but can also be used for apps you have no problem having your child spend a lot of time on.

Getting even deeper into Screen Time features, there is a section for “Content & Privacy Restrictions”. By turning on this feature, it allows you to change a myriad of options on your device. The biggest options you will find at the top. You can prevent installation of apps, deletion of apps, and even in-app purchases. You can require a password for each of these functions as well. In addition, you can also choose which built in apps are allowed on the phone. Sure, you can’t delete the Mail app, News App, or any Apple app, but by choosing one of these apps as “not allowed”, your device will simply hide these apps from the home page, rendering them unusable. Finally, if completely hiding apps or want your child having no control as to what apps they want on or off the device is too far for you, then you can utilize Content Restrictions. In Content Restrictions, you can block content with certain ratings. You have the ability to individualize it for movies, TV, Books, Apps, and even internet content to an extent. Within Content Restrictions you can even decide if you want to allow certain location settings, microphone settings, advertisements, bluetooth, and more.

On a Mac, you can limit a lot of the same things through the Parental Controls in the Restrictions section in System Preferences. While it is a lot harder to limit children on a computer, Restrictions does a decent job of preventing certain rated items as well as any built in program such as iTunes, Apple Music, or Libraries. Mac does not have Screen Time yet, but it will be released in its newest operating system Catalina this Fall.


Family Sharing

Family Sharing allows you and your family to share devices all while operating through individual accounts. This feature makes it easy to share all your Apple subscriptions and purchases all without having to stay on one account. You can utilize this feature with iTunes, Apple Books, App Store and purchases, Apple Music, Apple News+, and iCloud storage.

To get started, simply go to Settings on your phone and click on Apple ID. In these options you will see “Set Up Family Sharing”. If you’re doing it from a computer, click the Apple logo in the upper left corner, select System Preferences, then iCloud. After following the setup instructions you can invite the rest of your family by using their name or email address. From there, your family will have the option to accept or decline your invitation to join your family group.

After Family Sharing is completely set up, you will be able to share music, movies, books, apps, subscriptions, photos and videos, calendar events, and even your location. You can also enable a feature called “Ask to Buy”. This feature makes it so your family will have to ask you permission to purchase apps, music, and more via a notification that gets sent to your phone or computer.

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