How to Set Up iPad Parental Controls and Content Filtering

We’ll show you how to set up parental controls on the iPad and enable content filtering to control what your child sees on the Internet.

Most parents will share an iPad with a child or teen, and now it is even more likely that your kid has their own iPad to play games, read books, do homework and other activities including browsing the internet and engaging on social media.

There are two concerns when giving a small child or even an older kid your iPad: protecting the device from them and protecting them from what’s on the device. This and other heavy duty cases can take care of the former, but you’ll need to set up some parental controls to take care of the latter.

Learn how to set up parental controls on the iPad.
Learn how to set up parental controls on the iPad.

Apple delivers some restrictions that let you turn off some apps, stop kids from downloading and buying new apps or in-app purchases and there is even a way to hide apps. With recent updates, Apple now offers a built-in website filter to help keep adult content off the iPad without the need to buy software or change settings on your router.

If you share an iPad with your child you will need to turn these restrictions on and off each time you switch between using the iPad yourself and the child using your iPad. If they have their own iPad you can set this up once and be done with it.

Once you disable restrictions, you’ll have to go through and enable each one again the next time — completely tedious.

There are several kid-safe tablets that offer better parental controls that you can set and forget. But if you’re sticking with the iPad, here’s how to set them up.

Turn On The iPad’s Restrictions

Set up iPad parental controls.
Set up iPad parental controls.

 

Go to Settings > General > Restrictions and tap Enable Restrictions.

Every time you do this you’ll be asked to set a 4-digit passcode and enter it a second time. Be sure it’s something you can remember but your kid won’t figure out. Avoid your birthday, their birthday and simple series of numbers.

Setting App-Based Restrictions

This is where you can control what apps the child can use on the iPad. Toggle the setting off to stop them from connecting to the Internet, using the camera, buying new apps or downloading new apps.

You can control access to many apps, but not all with iPad parental controls.
You can control access to many apps, but not all with iPad parental controls.

On this section, you can also turn off the option to make in-app purchases. This allows you to control spending in games that encourage this behavior.

Set iPad Parental Controls - 8

If you scroll down further you will see options to set ratings for content that allows you to filter by ratings for Music, Podcasts, Movies, TV Shows, Books, Apps Siri and more. Apple assigns ratings, but for movies, the ratings are those assigned by the MPAA like you see in a theater. Keep in mind that your own ideas of a rating may not always match those assigned by Apple or others.

Set iPad Parental Controls - 9

Scrolling down further you can make changes to how kids interact with Game Center and the information that is shared under Privacy settings and even lock down account changes or set a volume limit.

Setting Up Web Content Filtering

Any iPad running iOS 7 or newer includes an option to set up iPad web content filtering right out of the box. This is also in Restrictions and it does a good job of limiting what your child can see but like all automated solutions, it is not perfect.

Go to Settings > General > Restrictions and tap Enable Restrictions if you’ve already left that area.

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Scroll to Allowed Content and tap on Websites. On this page, you can choose if you want to allow access to all websites or limit access.

If you choose Limit Adult Content the iPad will not be able to access adult websites, but keep in mind this may limit access to some sites a child needs access to for school and it may not block every site you don’t want your kid to access.

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If you need a more limited set of rules you can set the iPad to only allow access to specific websites. There is no reporting option to tell you what websites the iPad attempted to visit.

Keeping Kids Out Of Your Email

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Apple does not let you keep kids out of your email, calendar or iMessages, but you can at least prevent them from making changes to the account.

One solution is to use an app like Gmail and then sign out every time you hand your iPad over, but this is quite a hassle. Until Apple adds support for multiple users it will continue to be a pain.

Setting Media-Based Restrictions

Kids will want to watch a video, especially when they’re traveling. You can keep iTunes available but disable the inappropriate movies, TV shows, and music.

Under Allowed Content, you can set the rating level for movies based on MPAA ratings and TV shows based on US content ratings. Unfortunately, you can only disable explicit music and podcasts and not a wider range than that or all music.

Setting Location-Based Restrictions

Set iPad Parental Controls - 10

There are few good reasons for kids to broadcast their location to an app or to friends from the iPad, so it’s a good idea to turn off location services.

Under Allow changes tap Location. The apps you see on this screen may differ from mine. Switch them all to Off, then flip Location Services to Off as well.

Once you do, then choose Don’t Allow Changes to lock these down.

However, if you’re worried that your child will leave the iPad somewhere and forget it or simply lose it, leave Find My iPad on as well as Location Services.

15 Comments

  1. marty9999

    03/26/2012 at 5:23 pm

     Another very good Parental Control Browser is McGruff SafeGuard Child Safe Browser for the iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch.
    You may remember McGruff “The Crime Dog” from your own childhood.
    It also provides a summary of activity to the parent via email.

    Check out http://www.GoMcGruff.com/browser

    and http://www.GoMcGruff.com/BrowserVideo

    Reply

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  3. Gareth Penman

    07/23/2012 at 12:45 am

    one problem I found is the effect of using restrictions on app layout. I organise my apps by screen and in folders. I applied restrictions to a number of apps, making them disappear from the screen. When I un-restricted the apps had they been returned, but none were in folders or in the same place.

    This means whenever i pass my ipad to my son i have to set up all the restrictions, and then re-organise all the apps positions. This is not an easy system to use.

    Reply

  4. jffranca

    10/20/2012 at 5:16 am

    but the more important that would be define a period of time ( in minutes or hours ) that my child could play with ipad … that Apple forgot…

    Reply

  5. nomad

    11/03/2012 at 11:44 am

    as usual, apple parental controls suck, best form of control is to simply not give your kid an ipad, iphone, etc.

    Reply

    • Manden6

      11/05/2012 at 5:24 pm

      All of those controls are on the iMacs. Unfortunately somewhat missed on the othe portable products. thought don’t forget to check out the App Store for the timers for usage. I found 3-4 of them when looking under parental controls.

      Reply

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  10. Jake

    04/04/2017 at 5:21 am

    Is there a way to change the predetermined age restrictions of a specific app? I would like to determine which app are age appropriate or not.

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  14. Gerald Scartiong

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    I think that another good option for parental control is a special software like SecureTeen. Easy to use and works well.

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