How to access Restrictions and Parental Controls on your iPhone and iPad in iOS 12

howto restrictions parental controls iPhone iPad

iOS’s longstanding Restrictions feature, also called Parental Controls, is an awesome way for parents to limit the features, apps and content on kids’ iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. As of iOS 12, Restrictions have been renamed and moved to a brand-new section within Settings. Here’s how to get to the expanded set of parental controls in the iOS 12 software and newer.

If you have a child with a new iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, you’re wholeheartedly recommended to block any age-inappropriate apps, media and features that you don’t want them to consume by limiting their device using the built-in parental controls.

How to access Restrictions on iPhone and iPad

In iOS 12, Restrictions have moved to the new Screen Time settings. For completeness’ sake, this tutorial provides instructions on accessing Restrictions on both iOS 12 and older versions.

How to access Restrictions/Parental Controls on iOS 12

Managing restrictions using parental controls has changed and is now an integral part of Apple’s new set of Screen Time features which are part of iOS 12’s digital well-being initiative.

TUTORIAL: How to keep your iPhone usage under control with Screen Time

All of the parental controls found on iOS 11 and earlier continue to be available to parents who wish to manage their family’s devices with Apple’s newest iOS 12 software.

1) Open the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad with iOS 12 or newer.

2) Tap Screen Time.

3) If you’ve previously enabled Screen Time, skip to step 4. Otherwise, tap Turn On Screen Time, hit Continue on the following screen and then tap This is My Child’s iPhone.

Follow the onscreen instructions to create your Restrictions passcode before you’re allowed to use the various parental controls that are at your disposal, like Downtime, App Limits, content and age restrictions and more, as shown on the screenshots below.

4) Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions.

To enable Restrictions, slide the switch Content & Privacy Restrictions to the ON position.

iOS 11’s Restrictions have become iOS 12’s Content & Privacy Restrictions

Despite the name change, the Content & Privacy Restrictions section is precisely where you’ll find all of the parental controls for iPhone and iPad that you’ve come to know and love in older iOS editions, plus several new controls as part of the rich, new Screen Time section.

TUTORIAL: How to restrict kids’ screen time on iPhone and iPad

Here’s what parents can do with Screen Time:

  • Activity Reports: Parents can see detailed activity reports for their own and their kids’ devices, including the total time spent in each app, usage across categories of apps, how many notifications are received and how often a person picks up their iOS device.
  • Downtime: You can set a schedule for your junior for time away from the screen. Calls, messages and other apps you specifically want to permit can still be used. A parent’s permission is required to allow more screen time once the time hits zero.
  • App Limits: Set daily time limits for app categories you’d like to manage to stop your kids from spending more than, say, 45 minutes a day on social media apps or games.
  • Always Allowed: You can white-list critical apps you want your child to be able to use at all times, like the Phone and Messages apps.
  • Content & Privacy Restrictions: All of the Parental Controls you previously accessed through Settings → General → Restrictions are now available from there.

Setting a Screen Time password prevents kids from changing these settings on their own.

To restrict apps kids will be permitted to access, just tap Allowed Apps and disable any apps you don’t want to be exposed to your junior on this device. Keep in mind that you must enable and configure Screen Time on all devices used by your children.

Screen Time is great for everyone to better understand and manage their device usage, but can be especially helpful for kids and families. Not only are parents able to access both their own and kids’ activity reports right from their own iOS devices to better understand where children are spending their time, but also set app limits for them remotely and much more.

Screen Time data syncs across devices through iCloud.

Screen Time is account-based and as such works across all of a child’s iOS devices.

By basing Screen Time reports and allowances on kids’ total usage, there’s no cheating. Screen Time also works with Apple’s Family Sharing feature, allowing parents to also configure Screen Time settings remotely for their child within the same Family Sharing group.

Managing Screen Time features locally on a child’s device does not require Family Sharing.

Continue reading the article for the additional step-by-step instructions explaining how to access the iPhone and iPad parental controls on iOS 11 and older editions.

How to access Restrictions/Parental Controls on iOS 11

On iOS 11 and previous editions, Restrictions are found in a different place in Settings.

1) Open the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad with iOS 11 or older.

2) Tap General.

3) Tap Restrictions.

Upon tapping the option Enable Restrictions, you’ll be asked to create a passcode that you’ll need to type in before being able to change any settings or turning off Restrictions.

Don’t confuse your Restrictions passcode with your device passcode because they are not the same and can be set independently of one another.

Here, you can do the following:

Parental Controls are also available on your Mac and in desktop iTunes.


macOS’s Parental Controls let you manage content by rating and restrict pretty much the same features and settings like on your iPhone or iPad. For example, you could use macOS’s built-in Parental Controls to block access to specific websites on your Mac.

Apple first introduced Restrictions for iPhone back in 2008.

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