Worried about What Your Kid Gets Into on the iPad? Turn on Parental Controls

by Sarah Dobson on September 07, 2020

The Mac has parental controls that let you limit what a child can do in macOS, but what about on an iPad, iPod touch, or iPhone? Thankfully, iOS provides similar controls, called restrictions, that let parents have a say in what their child can do. You can find these iOS parental controls in Settings > General > Restrictions.

An important thing to consider is that your 8-year-old may be using their iPad responsibly now, but that doesn’t mean she will when those tween hormones kick in. Since restrictions are protected by a passcode that’s separate from the device passcode, it’s best to set it now, before your daughter or her friend does, even if you don’t want to restrict anything yet.

After all, kids today are savvy. They can often show adults how to operate the iPad with tricks and shortcuts you may have never knew existed! Your soon-to-be tween may not like it, but iPad parental controls can offer a little peace of mind and slow down the inevitable onset of gray hairs caused by too much worry.

Read on to learn more about how to set parental controls on iPad models everyone in the family uses daily. Once you’ve got a grasp on how it works, you’ll feel a bit better about letting your kids spend their free time on the iPad, after they’ve finished their homework or chores first!

Disabling Apps with iPad Parental Controls

The extremely long list of iPad parental controls or restrictions begins with a few Apple apps that you can disable entirely. Turn off the switch for an app like Safari or FaceTime, and it disappears from the Home screen.

Of course, if you disable FaceTime, your child could still make video calls by downloading Skype. To prevent this, turn off the Installing Apps switch, which causes the App Store app to disappear as well.

Alternatively, if you are using the Ask to Buy feature of Apple’s Family Sharing service, you can leave the App Store app available, but be confident that your child won’t be able to download any apps without your permission.

Limiting Media

Did you know that you can flip a switch to prevent your child from downloading new media from Apple’s iTunes Store? This includes movies, TV shows, and songs. This setting hides the iTunes Store app and prevents access to all items that were not already available in your child’s iTunes Store account.

Limiting media use is one of those essential iPad parental controls that can prevent you from getting hit with an unexpectedly large charge on your monthly bill, especially if you aren’t utilizing the Ask to Buy feature of Apple’s Family Sharing service. It is unquestionably wise to implement these controls, particularly if your iTunes store account password is easy to access.

Another possibility is to leave the iTunes Store app available, but use the next set of options in Allowed Content to block certain types of content, or limit content based on industry rating standards, such as movies rated R or NC-17. Or, if you are using Family Sharing, your child can browse for media but can’t purchase anything without your permission.

Although you can’t disable Apple’s iBooks ebook reading app, you can restrict access to the iBooks Store within the iBooks app.

Restricting Access to Adult Content with Safar Parental Controls

It's essential to learn how to use Safari parental controls, especially if you’re concerned about your little one watching something that’s strictly for adult eyes only. It’s a great way to keep your child off of all inappropriate websites, limit access to adult content on the internet, or allow access to parent-approved sites by picking from a list of child-focused websites (i.e., Disney, HowStuffWorks, Scholastic, etc.). You can even create your own customized list of OK-to-visit sites. Fortunately, setting the Safari parental controls on an iPad is very similar to the settings you’d find on an iPhone as both are part of Screen Time.

Here’s why so many parents love this parental control feature. If you restrict web access and your child browses to an unknown site, Safari shows a message explaining that the site is restricted and offers an “Allow Website” link. Tap the link and enter the restrictions passcode to load that site and add it to the set of allowed sites. Of course, Safari parental controls can only do so much, so you’ll still want to keep your eyes and ears open to the sites they’re visiting.

Other Restrictions

Siri: You can turn off Siri & Dictation, but we recommend that you leave this switch on because voice control is becoming an important skill—and it’s fun for kids. Kids love to ask Siri questions. Fortunately, Siri is infinitely patient! But kids do tend to get a little out of hand with the questions.

If you feel your child is abusing Siri, tap Siri in the Allowed Content category and disallow explicit language or web searches. This leaves Siri available for on-device commands like making reminders or speaking text messages, but disabled for anything potentially inappropriate.

Privacy: Another category on the Restrictions screen is Privacy. Use the items here as a jumping-off point for thinking about where you stand as a parent. Should your child’s device always share its location? Or only with certain apps? Should other apps on the device be able to access your child’s photos? These questions deserve careful thought, but there’s no single right answer.

Volume: Does your child blast the volume on their favorite music with their earbuds in? Do you want to help prevent your child from losing their hearing? In the Allow Changes section, consider enabling Volume Limit, which controls the loudest sound that the Music app will play through connected headphones.

Start by setting an appropriate maximum volume in Settings > Music > Volume Limit. Then, to lock that volume level, go to the Restrictions screen and tap Volume Limit > Don’t Allow Changes. Unfortunately, other apps don’t honor the Volume Limit setting.


Unlike macOS, iOS does not offer any time-based restrictions, so it’s not possible to limit your child to only a certain amount of time per day or to prevent usage after bedtime.

Going through a long list of possible restrictions for your child may not be the most exciting way to spend an evening, but you’ll sleep better knowing that it’s done.

Need a hand? Your Apple Premier Partner has got you covered!

Going through a long list of possible restrictions and setting up iPad parental controls for your child may not be the most exciting way to spend an evening, but you’ll sleep better knowing that it’s done. With these helpful tips, you’ll gain the peace of mind you deserve as a 21st-century parent!. Schedule an appointment at your local Simply Mac today!