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Parental controls on the iPhone - keeping your child safer online

"What's this $3,000 bill from the App Store?!!"
By
November 7, 2022

At some point, that time will come when your child will ask for their first mobile phone. With smartphones gaining more and more capabilities these days, it’s only natural to be apprehensive and hesitant as a parent. Giving your child access to the internet and everything it has to offer can lead to disaster if it isn’t managed properly. That’s why parental controls need to be set up on the iPhone before your little precious gets their hands on it. Let’s walk through how to be a real buzzkill and shut down all the good stuff.

Read more: How to set up and use iPhone restrictions

QUICK ANSWER

To set up parental controls on the iPhone, go to Settings > Screen Time > Content & Privacy Restrictions. Everything there is neatly categorized, and any changes you make can be protected by a unique passcode, preventing your child from circumventing the restrictions.


JUMP TO KEY SECTIONS

You can only disable apps that are preinstalled Apple apps. If you want to keep tight parental controls on the iPhone, don’t install third-party apps such as another browser. Stick solely to the default apps that Apple gives you.

Restrict access to websites

Let’s start with getting on to websites because your child is most likely impatiently waiting for you to turn your back, so they can look at naughty stuff and buy a Playstation from Amazon. Go to Settings > Screen Time > Content & Privacy Restrictions. If this is your first time using Screen Time, you will be required to enable it and assign a unique passcode to it.

iphone content privacy restrictions parental controls

Toggle on Content & Privacy Restrictions and then tap Content Restrictions.

iphone cpr toggled on parental controls

The two areas to focus on are Web Content and Siri. We will shortly show you how to disable Siri if you want that made unavailable to your child. But if you don’t, you can specify here what Siri is allowed to do. Now tap Web Content.

iphone cpr web content parental controls

You can either block adult websites only or set up an allowed list of pre-approved websites. Anything not on the list will be blocked. Apple already has a list started for you, but you can edit it and add or remove the ones you want.

ios cpr add website to web whitelist parental controls

If you now go back to the Content & Privacy Restrictions page, you will see a section called Allowed Apps. This allows you to turn off anything you don’t want your child to have. We’ll cover some of them in other sections, but for now, we’ll focus on the web browsing part.

If you would prefer that your child has no internet access at all, you can disable Safari by toggling it off. But be aware this will affect other parts of the phone. It would be better to keep it enabled and restrict what they can access.

It’s here that you can also disable Siri. You should also go to Settings > Siri & Dictation and toggle everything off.

iphone cpr allowed apps parental controls

Stop App Store purchases

The next step in parental controls is the App Store and being able to buy from it. If there is no credit card on file, your child will have purchase issues anyway. But if they have a bank card, or you have your credit card attached to the account, then you need to restrict access. There are lots of tempting things to buy in the App Store.

Just above the Allowed Apps section is something called iTunes & App Store Purchases. That’s the place you need to go to stop those app downloads and expensive purchases.

iphone itunes restrictions parental controls

You can now allow or deny being able to install apps, delete apps, and buy in-app purchases. If you allow in-app purchases, you can specify a password if your child attempts another purchase. By banning app installations, you can stop anything being added behind your back, such as Snapchat, TikTok, or Instagram.

iphone itunes restrictions options parental controls

Stop any media with explicit content

iphone explicit content restrictions parental controls

This is a small, easy section where you can stop your child’s access to explicit media, such as music, movies, and books. You can select Clean instead. Now you can wipe out all those rapper albums with the terrible language.

Approve what Apple apps your child uses

In the Allowed Apps section, you can do more than just disable Safari and Siri. You can also disable other preinstalled Apple apps.

The ones you should pay particular attention to are FaceTime, Camera, Wallet, and AirDrop. FaceTime and AirDrop are potential bullying tools, the Camera could be used for sexting, and the Wallet could be used to connect your child’s bank card to make online transactions.

iphone allowed apps full list parental controls

Set up your child’s games settings

iphone restrictions games parental controls

The Game Center section covers everything to do with games (naturally). You would need to allow your child to download the game first but assuming it plugs into Game Center, you can control what happens here. Everything from adding friends to private messaging and more.

This does not cover Apple Arcade, though. For that, you would need to disallow downloading apps in the App Store section. This will stop any Arcade games from being downloaded to your child’s device.

Tweak the privacy settings

Under Privacy and Allow Changes, you can set all kinds of privacy settings. Good ones to enable would be Location Services and Share My Location. This will allow you to keep track of your child’s whereabouts. The rest in Privacy can probably be disabled.

On the flip side, we would recommend disallowing everything in the Allow Changes section.

Add screen time limits

Finally, you need to impose some limits on how much time your child can have on using certain apps. For this, App Limits is your friend.

As you can see from the screenshot above, simply tap Add Limit, choose the app, and then the amount of time that app is allowed. The time will start the moment the app is opened.


Read more: How to lock apps on the iPhone and limit their daily usage

FAQs

There are many third-party monitoring apps, but to be perfectly honest, Screen Time on iOS devices is more than sufficient for parental controls on the iPhone. It gives you a complete breakdown of everything that was accessed and for how long. You can also go to iOS Location Services and enable tracking your child’s phone to see where they are.

The only way is to do it the same way that an adult would. By wiping the iPhone and restoring it from an iCloud backup, which would contain the deleted texts (assuming a new backup hasn’t overwritten them). If they are WhatsApp messages, it’s a slightly different procedure.

Yes, put the other person into the child’s phone Contacts app. Then go to Settings > Screen Time > Communication Limits, and follow on-screen prompts.

If the photo was recently deleted, it will be in the Recently Deleted folder in the Photos app. Assuming it is gone from there, you would have to wipe the phone and restore it from an iCloud backup (assuming a new backup hasn’t overwritten them).

It’s possible, but not guaranteed. You would have to contact Apple and request a refund. Alternatively, contact the app developer directly and ask them. The last resort is to contest the charges with your credit card company, but this is not guaranteed to work.