How to set parental controls on iPhone [AIO]

There’s nothing wrong in gifting your child an iPhone but you should be mindful of how they use it and what they can access on their own. If you and your child have your iPhones, you can connect your child’s account to your own and control what they can access, how much time they spend on their device and set restrictions to different features and content. 

In this post, we’ll explain everything you need to know about setting up parental controls for your child’s iPhone so you can limit your child’s screen time and device usage. 

What can you manage with parental controls on an iPhone?

With Apple’s Content & Privacy Restrictions on the iPhone, you can control various aspects of how your child uses his/her iPhone, limit a few features, disable access to certain apps, prevent downloads or purchase of items and make other privacy changes to their device. When your child’s iPhone is connected to your Apple account, you will be able to control the following things:

  • Establish screen time after which your child won’t be able to use their iPhone for entertainment and leisure. 
  • Make sure any purchases that are made from your child’s phone are approved by you, their parent/guardian.
  • Prevent the child from being able to install or delete apps from the App Store and disallow in-app purchases.
  • Temporarily hide an app or feature from the Home Screen and App Library by restricting the use of certain apps or features.
  • Stop your child from viewing explicit content or movies and TV shows with specific ratings.
  • Limit access to adult content when browsing the web on Safari and block specific websites from being accessed. 
  • Restrict Siri web search usage and stop it from showing explicit language.
  • Limit specific features on the Game Center by preventing your child from playing multiplayer games, adding friends, sending messages, or changing their avatar. 
  • Control how apps access hardware features from your child’s iPhone and prevent them from using the camera, microphone, location, contacts, photos, and other features. 
  • Prevent changes from being made to the device passcode, account, volume, background apps, cellular data, and more. 

You can choose to limit or allow any of these restrictions individually and can even customize them your way to make sure your child uses his/her iPhone appropriately. 

How to set up a child account on your iPhone

Before you can set up parental controls on your child’s iPhone, you will need to create an Apple ID for your child that you can manage from your iPhone and to do that, you first need to set up Family Sharing on your Apple ID.

Step 1: Set up family sharing

You can set up Family Sharing from any Apple device including your iPhone. If you’ve already set up a family group on your Apple, you can skip this step and move on to the next one. 

To get started, open the Settings app on your iPhone. 

Inside Settings, select your Apple ID card at the top. 

On the next screen, tap on Family Sharing

Here, tap on Continue.

You can follow the on-screen instructions to invite members to your family and set it up the way you want. 

You can add up to 5 more family members (a total of 6 including yourself) to the group even after the initial setup and then move on to the next step, where you can create an Apple ID for your child. 

Step 2: Create an Apple ID for your child

After you’ve turned on Family Sharing for your Apple account, you can proceed to create an Apple ID for your child that they can use on their iPhone. To create an Apple ID for your child, open the Settings app on your iPhone. 

Inside Settings, tap on Family underneath your Apple ID name. If this section isn’t available, tap on your Apple ID card instead. 

On the Apple ID screen, select Family Sharing

When the Family screen shows up, tap on the Add Member button at the top right corner. 

In the Invite Family screen, select Create Child Account

You should see a new screen where Apple asks you to enter the name of your child and their date of birth. Here, enter the child’s first and last name in their relevant boxes and then tap on Date of birth to choose the date. 

In the calendar that appears below, choose the year, month, and date of the child’s birth.

After you’ve entered all these details, tap on Verify You Are an Adult at the bottom. 

You will now see the Parental Consent screen. Here, you will be asked to enter your Apple account password. Type the password and then tap on Next at the top right corner. 

Apple will now prompt you by asking how you wish to receive a verification code. On this prompt, choose an email address from the list of options. 

Apple will now send you a verification code over email to the selected email address. On the next screen, you will need to enter this verification code. 

You will now have to agree to Apple’s Family Privacy Disclosure by tapping on Agree at the bottom right corner. Similarly, tap on Agree at the bottom right corner when the Terms and Conditions screen appears. 

On the next screen, Apple will ask you whether you want your child’s Apple ID to be created using a phone number or an email address.

We chose Use email address for the sake of convenience. 

Apple will now suggest a new email address for your child inside the “Email” box. You can change it to something else if you’ve got something in mind or keep the suggested email address as it is. 

When you’re ready, tap on Continue at the bottom. 

In the prompt that appears at the bottom, select Create Email Address.  

On the next screen, you will be required to choose a password for your child’s Apple account. 

Once you’ve created a password, Apple will ask you where you want to receive a verification code when your child’s Apple account is signed in to a new device. 

If you’re okay with the verification code being sent directly to your child’s phone number, select Use Different Number for <your child>. If you’re not comfortable with that, tap on Use <your number> instead

You will now be asked to set up parental controls on the next screen. Since we’ll be setting it up manually, we can choose Set Up Later at the bottom. If you want to set up parental controls straight away, you can tap on Turn on Screen Time and follow the on-screen instructions. 

On the next screen, Apple will notify you that the Ask to Buy feature is turned on by default.

This is the feature that prevents your child from purchasing or downloading items from the App Store. If you wish to keep this feature enabled, tap on Continue or select Turn Off Ask to Buy to set it up at a later time. 

Apple will now ask you whether or not you want your child’s location to be visible to you and other family members in the group. If you wish to locate your child at all times, tap on Share Location; or else tap on Skip to disable location access for now. 

You will now have completed the initial set up at which point Apple will let you know that you’re “All Set”. You will see your child’s new email address which is also the Apple ID that they can use to sign in to their iPhones. 

Once their Apple ID is ready, you can turn on your child’s iPhone and sign in to iCloud using the Apple ID email address that you created moments ago. The iPhone you log in to using this Apple ID can be monitored and controlled from your iPhone at all times. 

How to set up Screen Time for a child 

When your child’s Apple ID has been set up and signed in to their iPhone, you can get started with the first step of parental controls which is to set up their Screen Time. If you’re on iOS 16, you can also set app and content limits to your child’s iPhone automatically based on the age group they fall into. This way you can avoid setting them up manually one-by-one. 

To set up Screen Time for a child, open the Settings app on your iPhone.

Inside Settings, select Family underneath your Apple ID name. 

On the Family screen, select the child whose iPhone you want to set up Screen Time on. 

When the child’s details show up, tap on Screen Time

On the next screen, tap on Turn On Screen Time

You will now see the Set Up Parental Controls screen pop up. 

Here, select Turn On Screen Time

In the “What content can <your child> access?” screen, you will see be able to choose different apps and feature limits for your kid’s iPhone.

If you’re on iOS 16, you will be able to choose a set of restrictions automatically by sliding over different age groups. For example, the restrictions will be a lot tighter if your child is aged 5 or under, and these limitations would ease up as you slide over toward the right.

You can choose an age group your kid falls under anywhere between 5 and 18 by moving the slider to your preferred position. 

Regardless of whether or not you choose to select content restrictions based on age, you can manually set a limit on any of these categories – Apps, Books, TV Shows, Movies, Apple Media, Music Videos, Music Profiles, Web Content, Siri Web Search, Explicit Language, and Deleting Apps. You can configure any of these categories with your preferred restriction by tapping on it and choosing the appropriate setting for your child. 

When you’re ready to set content restrictions, tap on Turn On Restrictions at the bottom. 

On the next screen, you will be asked to choose a Downtime for your kid’s iPhone during which period, your child will need your approval to continue using their iPhone. 

On this screen choose the preferred Start and End times for your child to stay away from their phones and then tap on Turn On Downtime

On the next screen, you can set daily app limits for different categories on your child’s iPhone. This is the time your child can use their iPhone for your selected purpose. Once this time ends, your child will need to request for permission from your iPhone to give them additional usage time. 

On this screen, choose an app category you want to designate a usage time for. If you’re not sure about which category to select, choose All Apps & Categories to set a time for across all apps. 

Next, tap on Time Amount to choose a preferred usage period for when you want to approve your child’s phone use. 

Once you’ve configured this setting, tap on Set App Limit at the bottom. 

On the next screen, you will need to create a Screen Time code that you can use to allow more time and configure your child’s Screen Time in the future. When setting up this code, make sure this code is different from your iPhone’s passcode and isn’t easily guessable. You will need to enter this passcode again to confirm. 

Screen Time will now be enabled for your child’s Apple ID account and you will be able to monitor it directly from your own iPhone. 

How to enable Ask to Buy for purchases by a child

When you have an Apple account linked to your child, you will be able to use the Ask to Buy feature which forces your child to get your approval when they try to make purchases or download an app from the App Store. If you hadn’t enabled Ask to Buy at the time of initially setting up your child’s account, you can turn it on inside iOS settings at a later time. 

To enable Ask to Buy on your child’s Apple account, open the Settings app on your iPhone. 

Inside Settings, tap on Family underneath your Apple ID name. 

On the Family screen, tap on the child for whom you want to configure Ask to Buy. 

When the child’s details screen loads up, select Ask to Buy

On the next screen, Apple will explain more about the feature. 

To go ahead and enable it, tap on Turn On Ask to Buy

Once enabled, your child will request for your approval every time they download or purchase something from the App Store, iTunes Store, or Apple Books. If you feel that your child no longer needs your approval for this, you can disable the option by going to Settings > Family > your child > Ask to Buy and turning off the Require Purchase Approval toggle at the top. 

How to set up parental controls on your child’s iPhone 

Parental controls can be set up in two ways:

  • By creating a new Apple account for your child and linking it to your iPhone: If you opted for a new child account linked to your Apple ID, you could set up parental controls for your child by going to Settings > Family > your child > Screen Time

  • By setting up content restrictions directly on…