Apple’s iPhone comes loaded with extensive parental control features that can protect young minds from inappropriate content, excessive screen time, and the perils of digital distractions. These controls can provide peace of mind for parents and guardians, while still allowing tech-savvy children to explore, learn, and grow in the digital world. Let’s take a closer look at how to set up parental controls on iPhones.

Add Your Child’s Apple ID to Family Sharing

Whether you’re setting up a new iPhone or refining controls on an existing one, your first step should be to add your child’s Apple ID to your Family Sharing group. By doing so, you’ll unlock the power to remotely fine-tune various settings on your child’s iPhone, including purchase approvals, purchase sharing, and location sharing. Family Sharing is an Apple-exclusive feature and isn’t compatible with Android devices. If no adult in your family has an iOS device, skip the following steps, and move on to the next section.

  1. In the “Settings” app, tap on your name to reach the Apple ID settings section.
Main Settings App Id Highlight
  1. Select the “Family sharing” option.
Apple Id Settings Open
  1. Tap the “+” icon in the top-right corner. Invite your child’s Apple ID, or create a new account for them from scratch. Your child’s Apple ID is now under your Family Sharing umbrella, giving you the reins to their iPhone usage.
Family Settings

Tip: reset or change your Apple ID password before you enable Family Sharing to further enhance account security.

Enable Parental Control Settings

You can take two routes to reach the parental control settings that can protect your child’s digital well-being. In the first method, you can march straight onto your child’s iPhone and tweak the settings directly. Alternatively, if you’re all-in with Apple, you can handle everything remotely from your own iPhone using Family Sharing. The latter option won’t work for parents with Android devices, so keep that in mind.

Enable Parental Controls From Your Device

  1. Launch the “Settings” app, and navigate to the “Screen Time” section.
Screen Time Highlight
  1. Choose your child’s name in the “Family” section.
Child Select Screen Time
  1. Tap the “Turn on Screen Time” button, and go through the guided setup process.
Screen Time Turn On

Good to know: does your child spend a lot of time on TikTok? Discover how to activate Parental Controls on TikTok, regardless of whether they are using an iPhone.

Enable Parental Controls From Child’s Device

  1. Open the “Settings” app and navigate to the “Family” section located directly below your Apple ID.
Family Settings Highlight
  1. Select your child’s name to bring up their settings.
Child Name Highlight In Family
  1. Navigate to the “Screen Time” section.
Family Sharing Screen Time
  1. Tap the “Turn on Screen Time” button, and go through the guided setup process.
Screen Time Turn On

During the Screen Time setup process, choose an age for suggested content restrictions or customize them manually, set a schedule for time away from the screen, and configure daily time limits for app categories, such as social and games. From the “Family” section, you can also toggle the following settings:

  • Ask To Buy: want a say in what your child purchases from the App Store? This feature ensures that you get the final approval on their buys.
  • Subscription and Purchase Sharing: share subscriptions, App Store purchases, and more across your family group.
  • Location Sharing: keep tabs on your child’s location for added safety.

Good to know: discover how kids are getting around parental controls, even with advanced tools enabled.

How to Customize Parental Control Settings on iPhone

The main iPhone parental controls settings are divided into five major categories within the Screen Time section:

  1. Downtime
  2. App Limits
  3. Communication Limits
  4. Always Allowed
  5. Content and Privacy Restrictions

Let’s take a deeper look at each category and the number of settings users can customize.

Tip: does your child also have an Android device? Learn how to control screen time on Android.


Downtime is your parental control tool of choice when it comes to enforcing a digital curfew on your child’s iPhone. You can either turn it on manually by tapping the “Turn On Downtime Until Tomorrow” button or schedule it to turn on automatically:

  1. Turn on the “Scheduled” toggle.
Downtime Iphone
  1. Set the preferred start and end times, or customize them for each day of the week. Enable the “Block at Downtime” feature to optionally block device access during Downtime.

App Limits

App Limits empower you to regulate the time your child spends on specific apps or app categories. To start using this parental control feature:

  1. Tap “Add Limit” under “Screen Time.”
Add Limit
  1. Select the apps or app categories you want to limit, then tap “Next.”
Choose Apps To Limit
  1. Set the daily time limit, then tap the “Add” button to finish.
Set Daily App Limit

Communication Limits

Communication Limits provide you with control over your child’s interactions through calls, messages, and FaceTime. Learn how to apply these restrictions below:

  1. Navigate to the “During Screen Time” section.
Communication Limits
  1. Choose who can communicate with your child during allowed screen time. Do the same for the “During Downtime” section.
Allowed Communication

Tip: enable the “Manage Child’s Contacts” option to gain the ability to manage contacts stored on your child’s device remotely.

Always Allowed

Under “Always Allowed,” designate certain apps and contacts as accessible at all times, even during Downtime.

  1. Choose “Contacts” to specify who can be contacted during Downtime. This is the same setting as the one described in the previous section.
Always Allowed Communication
  1. Adjust the “Allowed Apps” list by adding or removing apps as needed. Tap the red “minus” button to remove an app and the green “plus” button to add an app.
Allowed Apps 1

Content & Privacy Restrictions

The Content & Privacy Restrictions feature enables you to manage your child’s ability to make in-app purchases, use default apps, and access specific content. To enable this, follow these steps:

  1. Tap the “Content & Privacy Restrictions” toggle.
Content And Privacy Restrictions 2
  1. Go through the available settings options to customize the device’s functionality and control content access.

Focus your attention on the three main sections:

  1. iTunes & App Store Purchases: manage your child’s ability to install and delete apps, as well as make in-app purchases.
  2. Allowed Apps: enable or disable Apple’s built-in apps.
  3. Content Restrictions: tailor restrictions for movies, TV shows, websites, Siri search results, and Game Center activity.

Together, these content and privacy settings should give you peace of mind about the digital environment that your child interacts with daily.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I restore my child’s Screen Time passcode?

If you are trying to disable Screen Time and cannot remember your child’s Screen Time passcode, tap the “Forgot Passcode?” option on the passcode entry screen, and reset it using your Apple ID.

Can I create a longer Screen Time passcode?

No. Screen Time passcodes can only be up to four digits long.

Are Apple’s parental control features free?

Yes, the iPhone parental control features, including Screen Time, are available for free. There are no additional charges to use these features.

Image credit: Pexels. All screenshots by David Morelo.

David Morelo
David Morelo

David Morelo is a professional content writer in the technology niche, covering everything from consumer products to emerging technologies and their cross-industry application. His interest in technology started at an early age and has only grown stronger over the years.

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