Tutorial: Setting Parental Controls on Apple Devices

For many kids, their first exposure to having the internet at their fingertips comes with their first Apple iPod Touch. Because it is not uncommon for kids as young as 6 or 7 to get these devices, it’s even more important to put some basic parental controls (restrictions) in place before you hand it to your child.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to adding some basic restrictions on your child’s iPod Touch; however, these instructions also apply to other Apple devices like iPad and iPhone, too. So don’t forget to put these restrictions place on other devices in your home that your child might spend time on.

The settings outlined below are what I’m experimenting with currently with my own kids. You may choose different options for your children, and hopefully going through this process will help you to learn where to go to make changes as needed.

Set up a Passcode on the Device

The first thing you should do protect your child’s iPod (or restrict their use of it) is to set up a passcode which will appear when you turn on or wake up the device. Setting up a passcode can serve a couple of purposes:

  1. To truly monitor your child’s usage, you can set a passcode that only you know so they have to come see you to log onto the device when they want to use it.
  2. A passcode will prevent a stranger from gaining access to any information on the device, like the ‘Contacts’ list if the device is lost or stolen.

Setting a Passcode on iPod Touch

Setting Passcode – Step 1:

On your Home screen click on ‘Settings’:

Setting Passcode – STEP 2:

Once in the ‘Settings’ screen, click on the ‘General’ option:

Setting Passcode – STEP 3:

Click on the arrow next to the ‘Passcode Lock’ option to get to the ‘Passcode Lock’ screen:

Setting Passcode – STEP 4:

Click on ‘Turn Passcode On’ at the top of the screen to get to the ‘Set Passcode’ screen. Note: On this screen, you could also choose the option of turning ‘Simple Passcode’ to ‘Off’. When you do this, you will be presented with a text box on the ‘Set Passcode’ screen to create a more complex passcode if you wish (not just 4-digits). It’s up to you.

Setting Passcode – STEP 5:

Set a four-digit passcode that is easy for you to remember, but hard for your kids to figure out.

A Step-by-step Guide to Setting Restrictions

Setting Restrictions – Step 1:

On your Home screen click on ‘Settings’:

Setting Restrictions – STEP 2:

Once in the ‘Settings’ screen, click on the ‘General’ option:

Setting Restrictions – STEP 3:

When presented with the ‘General’ screen, click on the ‘Restrictions’ option:

Setting Restrictions – STEP 4:

When you click on ‘Restrictions’ you will be prompted to ‘Enter your ‘Restriction Passcode’. Set this to a memorable 4 digit number that your kids will not be able to figure out (and make sure they don’t watch you type it in).

Important Note:
If you lose or forget a restriction passcode, you will need to perform a factory restore to remove it.

Setting Restrictions – STEP 5:

Disable the options that you don’t want available to your child.
Under the first section, ‘Allow’, simply go through and set to ‘OFF’ any options that you want to disable. The settings I currently have for my child are shown below:

This first thing I did was disable the Safari browser. This is because I am currently experimenting with a kid-friendly browser called Mobicip that filters content restricts website access. Click here to learn more about A Safer Browser Option for your Kids’ Mobile Devices

I also turned ‘OFF” ‘Installing Apps’. This makes it so my kids have to come see me before installing any applications (even if they are free).

Note: If your device is running iOS 5 (Apple’s mobile operating system) or earlier, YouTube can be restricted here as well. YouTube is available on your child’s home screen by default in iOS 5 or earlier.

Setting Restrictions – STEP 6:

In the same screen, scroll down to the ‘Allowed Content’ section to set the content ratings that you will allow on the device. For each setting, simply click on the arrow to see your options. It is also highly recommended that you change the default setting for the ‘Require Password’ option from ’15 minutes’ to ‘immediately’ so users are immediately prompted for a password when attempting to make an app purchase.

Setting Restrictions – STEP 7:

Next, scroll down to the ‘Privacy’ section of the ‘Restrictions’ screen and click on the arrow next to ‘Location Services’. If you are unfamiliar with ‘Location Services’, here’s a summary as stated on the device:

“Location Services uses crowd-sourced Wi-Fi hotspot locations to determine your approximate location.”

Having ‘Location Services’ turned ‘ON’ allows your device to use your location coordinates when you take pictures (Geotagging) and is used by many apps like MapQuest, The Weather Channel, Google Maps, etc.

Setting Restrictions – Step 8:

In the ‘Location Services’ screen, you have the option to turn ‘Location Services’ off on the device as a whole or you can turn it off for particular applications.

To disable ‘Location Services’ for the device as a whole, slide the ‘Location Services’ Option to ‘OFF’. You may also want to check the option of ‘Don’t Allow Changes’ so this setting can’t be changed without the Restrictions passcode:

If you would rather disable location services on app-by-app basis, scroll down to the individual apps listed at the bottom of the screen. Simply slide the option to ‘OFF’ to disable the location for the particular app.

Keep in mind that if you turn location services off on the whole device, you many need to make adjustments later if you want to use an app like MapQuest. Now you know where to go to do it.

Setting Restrictions – Step 9:

The remaining options under the ‘Privacy’ section have to do with whether or not you want to allow apps to have access to such things as your ‘Contacts’, ‘Calendar’, ‘Photos’, ‘Facebook Account’, etc. For my kids’ devices, I have clicked on the arrow next to each of these options and changed the setting to ‘Disallow Changes’. After doing this, all options will appear with a lock symbol next to them.

Setting Restrictions – Step 10:

The next option I chose to set was under the ‘Allow Changes’ section as my kids don’t need the ability to add or modify their accounts. Here I clicked on the arrow next to ‘Accounts’ and changed the setting to ‘Don’t Allow Changes’. As stated on the device, this will prevent adding, removing or modifying accounts in Mail, Contacts, and Calendars.

Setting Restrictions – Step 11:

The final setting I changed was to turn off all options under the ‘Game Center’ section so my kids can’t choose to play games with other people without checking with me first.