How to enable parental controls for child-friendly use on iPhone and Android

With many kids back to school in-person, a lot of parents and caretakers have purchased new smartphones to stay in touch while their children are away.

But now they may be in a quandary, especially with dangerous TikTok challenges going viral: How can I limit my child’s screen time and keep them safe online?

We have a solution: Parental controls.

These controls allow you to set the appropriate amount of screen time and limit certain sites and apps to ensure your child’s health and safety. In this week’s tip, we’ll show you how to set it up.

With parental controls, you can limit the types of content, number of hours and more on your loved one’s device. There are many user-friendly apps in Google Play and the App Store that can enable a wide variety of settings, but the following tutorials explain how to use the built-in (free) parental controls that are included with your device and operating system.

How to use parental controls on an Apple device

To set up parental controls on an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, you’ll first need to set up Screen Time on your child’s device:

  1. Go to Settings > Screen Time
  2. Tap Turn on Screen Time, then choose Continue on the next screen.
  3. Choose “This is my Child’s [device]” & follow the prompts until you get to Parent Passcode and enter a passcode. Re-enter the passcode to confirm. You may also need to enter your Apple ID login information, so you can reset the passcode at a later time.
  4. Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions. If asked, enter your passcode, then turn on Content & Privacy.

Now, you have many options to set content and privacy restrictions,, preventing purchases, limiting explicit content and scheduling Downtime, which allows you to choose which phone calls and apps that are available.

Set downtime and app limits 

During downtime, only calls, messages, and apps you choose to allow are available. You can receive calls from contacts you’ve selected to allow communication with during downtime, and you can use apps you’ve chosen to allow at all times.

  1. Go to Settings > Screen Time > Downtime > Enable the slider next to Downtime
  2. Enter the start and end times > Then, tap Set Downtime.
  3. To set limits for categories of apps you want to manage, select the categories.
  4. To see all the categories, tap Show All Categories.
  5. Tap Set, enter an amount of time, then tap Set App Limit.
  6. Tap Continue, then enter a Screen Time passcode for managing your family member’s Screen Time settings.

Here are some more tutorials from Apple on how to set up additional features and restrictions:

How to use parental controls on an Android device

On Android devices, the parental controls are found inside the Google Play app. Here’s how to get started, but please note that directions may vary depending on your device’s manufacturer and OS version::

  1. First, be sure you are using the device you’d like to enable parental control on.
  2. Then, go to the Google Play app & tap the profile icon at the top right
  3. Tap Settings > Family > Parental Controls
  4. To protect parental controls from tampering, set up a PIN that your child doesn’t know
  5. Now, you can select types of content and restrictions, including Apps & Games, Films, TV, Books & Music.

You can learn more about Google’s parental controls here.

Google Family Link

If you’re looking for additional controls, including limiting screen time and more detailed monitoring, another robust solution is Google Family Link, a free and easy-to-use app that allows you to create a family group and control or monitor a specific family member’s device usage, help guide them to appropriate content, set bedtimes and restrict or allow apps, websites, and other content. 

To learn more and how to get started, visit the Google Family Link website.