5 Steps to Child-Proof an iOS Device

Illustration Shows Porn Being Blocked in SERPs

This is a guide to help parents child-proof iOS devices before giving them to their kids. Child-proofing a device helps ensure you reduce the risk of a child stumbling onto unwanted surprises (e.g., porn).

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Step 1: Kids Should Not Be Administrators

Every device has the concept of an administrator that can configure the device, change settings, and have full control of the account. Your kids should never, ever, have administrator access to their devices. That's a very important and mandatory rule so that the following steps can work well.

On the iPhone and iPads, everyone is an administrator by default, so you have to enable parental control (restrictions) to reduce the access from the default account.

You can enable Parental control by going to Settings->Screen Time->Content & Privacy Restrictions and choosing a password by clicking on Enable Restrictions.

Once a password is configured, you have to look for these settings under the main Allow group and disable them:

  • Installing Apps
  • Deleting Apps
  • In-App Purchases

Next look for the Allow Changes group and disable the option to Changing Accounts. If you are concerned about location privacy, you can turn it off by disabling Location Services and Share My Location. However, I only recommend disabling these last 2 if you have very young kids as they can be very useful for maps, tagging pictures, etc.

Step 2: Kids should not have your passwords

First, please, do not choose "1234" or "password" for your Parental Control password. Choose a good one that your kids won't be able to guess.

Also, every new iPhone (and iPad) support touch (biometric) authentication, so we highly recommend it being enabled everywhere you can. It is one less password to remember and it protects your device in case it gets stolen or lost. You can enable it by going to Settings->Touch Id and Passcode. file. It would look something like this:

Step 3: Restrict adult content.

Once you have locked down the devices so your kids cannot make any changes to their settings (and choosing a good password for it), we recommend enabling a parental control system to automatically block adult and explicit content. You don't want an explicit popup ad surprising your 7 year old daughter. Their brains are too young to process pornographic content, so it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

There are multiple tools that can do that for you, including our own free CleanBrowsing. All you need to do is change the Networking DNS settings in your device to the one provided here and you are all set (instructions here).

We also have a very simple App that you can install and it will block every adult content automatically. You may try that as well if you think it is easier. You can download the App from here.

Once you enable it, the system will block access to all adult content, allowing your kids to browse safely online.

We also recommend going back to the Parental Control (Settings->General->Restrictions) and restricting the content you do not want to allow your children to see. You can see those settings under Allowed Content. This is what we recommend for kids:

  • Movies: set to PG-13
  • TV Shows: TV-14
  • Books: Restrict explicit content
  • Apps: 12+
  • Siri: Explicit language filtered
  • Websites: Restrict adult content

All of this helps to minimize access to adult and mature content. Note that the Apple Website filter for adult content is not very comprehensive, so it is not enough to block adult content by itself - that's why we use it with CleanBrowsing. As your kids get older, you can adjust these settings to match their age group and maturity.

Step 4: Restrict the location.

Location, location, location. Just as in real state, location matters for your children online security. You can’t enforce this with an App, but we highly recommend setting up a rule in your home so the kids have to use their devices in an open area that is easily monitored by the parents.

Step 5: Explain the rules.

Once that is done, talk to them about their devices and what it can do. Take some time to explain the dangers of online content. Talk about your rules and maybe even make them sign on a paper that they read and understood the rules (if they are old enough).

And finally, stay present and watch them. None of this will work if you are not around to watch what they are doing and enforcing the rules. Talk to them, enjoy the Internet together whenever possible and you will both benefit from it. Good luck!

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