How to Use the Parental Controls on Your iPad

Before you hand over your iPad or give your children their own iPads, you'll probably want to set up parental controls to keep your kids safe and limit what they can access on the device. Here's how to use Restrictions in iOS to lock down your kids' iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

Before you start, back up your device with either iCloud or iTunes.

How to Turn on iOS Restrictions

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap General then tap Restrictions.

  1. Tap Enable Restrictions.
  2. Set a passcode. Make sure this 4-digit number is something you'll remember (I recommend putting it in a password manager). If you forget the passcode later, the only way to disable Restrictions is to either restore from a backup you made before enabling Restrictions or restore your device as new.

  1. Re-enter your passcode.

That's it. Now you can adjust the parental control settings in Restrictions. Any changes to those settings will require the passcode. Here's an overview of some of the most important parental controls to explore or adjust:

App Restrictions

Apps and settings turned off here will be hidden on the iPad or iPhone until you turn them back on in Restrictions.

Toggle off any apps you don't want to allow your child to have access to.

Three settings in particular you might want to disallow, depending on your child: Installing Apps, Deleting Apps, and In-App Purchases.

Content Restrictions

You can limit your kids' access to content, such as movies, apps, and websites based on their rating levels or age-appropriateness. In the websites setting, for example, you can allow all websites, limit adult content, or allow only sites you specify.

Set ratings levels by tapping individual content settings.

Be aware that not all of the content in the iTunes Store and App Store is rated, so these filters aren't a perfect solution. You can, however, choose to not allow a specific type of content (e.g., don't allow movies), regardless of ratings.

Require a password for purchases, including in-app purchases. You can set this to always require a password or require a password after 15 minutes from the last purchase (useful if you're downloading a few apps at a time for your kid and don't want keep re-entering your password). You can also require a password for free downloads.

Privacy Restrictions

Here you can prevent new apps from accessing other apps like Photos, Contacts, Facebook, and Twitter. While these aren't designed specifically to restrict what kids can access or do on the device, they can keep your kids' apps from using your Facebook account.

Tap Share My Location and change it to "Don't Allow Changes" if you want to prevent someone (whether your teenage child or a thief) from turning off location tracking in Find My Friends or Messages on your device.

Allow Changes Restrictions

The section offers three settings to control if your child can create or modify accounts, let apps refresh in the background, or change the volume level.

Set Accounts to "Don't Allow Changes" to prevent your child from adding, removing, or modifying accounts in Mail, Contacts, and Calendar.

Game Center Restrictions

Finally, the last section lets you choose whether your child can play multiplayer games or add friends in Game Center.