There are a number of ways to add parental controls to iPhones and iPads, helping you to block adult content, restrict downloads and purchases, and even limit selected apps and features.

This blog will show you exactly how to use Apple's parental controls, which are also known as restrictions. These straightforward steps only take a few minutes to set up, but offer peace of mind when sharing a device with children.

Use Guided Access

If you want to limit what other users can do, then enabling Apple's Guided Access feature is a must. With Guided Access switched on, you'll be able to control exactly what someone can and can't do on your device by limiting access to one app only.

Guided Access is the perfect way to share your device while maintaining your privacy, and it can be particularly useful for adults who want to let children play games or watch shows on Netflix Kids. Once turned on, there's no risk of unsuitable content being found.

To set up Guided Access, simply head to Settings > Accessibility just before you hand over your iPhone or iPad. From here, you'll see Guided Access. Switch this on, then setup a passcode before exiting.

With Guided Access now turned on, all you'll need to do is open the app you want to use. Triple-click the lock button (located on the right-hand side) or the home button if your Apple device has one, then start the session. When you're ready to end, just enter the passcode you created previously. From here, all you need to do is head back to Settings to switch Guided Access off.

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Set Up Family Sharing

If you'd prefer to add parental controls on an Apple device for sharing, you'll need to set up Apple's Family Sharing service first. To do this, every member will need an Apple device running iOS 8 or higher.

To get started with Family Sharing, open Settings and tap on your name. Select Family Sharing > Set Up Family Sharing and then follow Apple's instructions.

The process will help you add each individual member to a Family Sharing group. You'll be presented with three different ways to do this: Invite via iMessage, Invite in Person (where every member of the group will need to enter their Apple ID details manually on your device) or by creating a Child Account. Whatever option you choose, you'll be required to set a passcode during the process, and once complete every member will be visible whenever you head to Family Sharing on your iPhone or iPad.

When you create a group, you'll be able to activate a number of sharing perks too. For example, with Family Sharing enabled you can turn on Purchase Sharing, so everyone in the group can download apps bought by any member, and share Apple Arcade access.

You'll also see a section titled Screen Time. This is where you'll be able to view reports on how members use their device, add restrictions and much more.

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Edit Screen Time

If you've followed the steps above, you should be able to see the following options for your chosen Family Sharing group member, as well as a daily and weekly report on how they've been using their device. Clicking into each option will allow you to set a number of different restrictions.

Downtime
This will let you control when a member can use their iPhone or iPad, and you will need to enter the passcode you created during the Family Sharing setup to begin. Once you've entered the passcode, you will be able to set a start time and end time for Downtime - for example 8pm and 9am. During this period, the member in question won't be able to access anything on their device.

Always Allowed
You can make sure that any member always has access to the essentials, like iMessage and phone calls, even if restrictions such as Downtime are in place. Apps selected in Always Allowed will override any existing settings, so they can always be accessed in case of an emergency.

If you want a particular member to always have access to apps like FaceTime, WhatsApp or the Phone app, simply add it to the Always Allowed section by tapping the + button under Choose Apps.

App Limits
To set daily limits to apps like Instagram, TikTok and Netflix, just turn on App Limits.

Apple has made things even easier by grouping available apps into categories, such as Social Networking, Education and Entertainment. To add a limit, you should:

  1. Select a category.
  2. Choose a time limit, e.g. 2 hours. Underneath, you can also click Customise Days to amend this for different days of the week, such as weekends.
  3. Switch on Block at the end of Limit to ensure apps in this category can't be accessed once the limit has been reached.

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Content & Privacy Restrictions
This is one of the most useful sections in Screen Time. From here, you can put in place a range of limitations to keep others safe when using their Apple device. You'll find step-by-step guides to three of the most useful options below.

To prevent iTunes and App Store purchases:

  1. Open Content & Privacy Restrictions, and enter a passcode if required.
  2. Select iTunes and App Store Purchases.
  3. Tap an option: Installing Apps, Deleting Apps or In-App Purchases.
  4. Set to Don't Allow.
  5. Repeat for other options to restrict access to all.

To add and amend Allowed Apps:

  1. Open Content & Privacy Restrictions, and enter a passcode if required.
  2. Select Allowed Apps.
  3. Switch off any apps you don't want the user to access (such as Mail or iTunes Store).

To set specific content restrictions:

  1. Open Content & Privacy Restrictions, and enter a passcode if required.
  2. Select Content Restrictions.
  3. Underneath Store Content, you can change Music, Podcasts & News from Explicit to Clean, choose a rating (such as U, PG or 12) under Films, and set similar limitations for TV programmes, Books and Apps.
  4. Restrict access on the web by selecting Web Content > Limit Adult Websites. Alternatively, restrict users to a handful of URLs by tapping Allowed Websites Only and manually entering the address.
  5. Turn explicit language off for Siri by heading to Siri > Explicit Language > Don't Allow.
  6. Enable or disable multiplayer games, adding friends and screen recording for Apple's Game Center by turning the toggle on or off

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