A Safe iPhone and a Happy Kid

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Keeping an eye on all of your child’s online activity is close to impossible these days, especially with the recent surge of 3G/4G capable mobile devices.  Smart phones have landed in the hands of almost every tween and teen, and as a result, it has left parents with even more concerns about the instant connectivity that it allows our children…..despite the fact that many of us all rushed out and bought them.  And though we can install parental controls and security software on our home computers, the struggle that most parents face is the fact that our children have the entire Internet in their pockets, and with a touch of their finger they can access everything that those parental controls and security software’s were meant to keep out. 

With that said, in this article I want to show parents how they can set the parental controls on their child’s iPhone.  I’ve received a lot of requests from parents on this exact issue, so here it is.  I tested it all out myself, and it’s safe to say that it does what it’s supposed to do.  By following this guide, you’ll be able to lock out certain iPhone features altogether, including Safari. 

First things first – Go into the phones Settings.


Once in Settings, go to the tab called “General”


Next, scroll down and look for the tab called “Restrictions”.  Currently, it should say “Off”.

Once you’ve tapped on that, at the top, click on “Enable Restrictions”.  This will trigger a prompt for a password.  Don’t forget this password, there’s no way to retrieve it. 


Once you’ve done this you’ll be able to:

  • Remove/restore certain apps from the device.
  • Set restrictions for the App Store.
  • Set content restictions for videos and music.
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Re-enabling these functions is as simple as following the same steps, re-entering your password, and turning the functions back on.  Again, this password is for YOU to know, not your kids!  

One of the most important things you can do here is switch Location to “off”. This is the geotagging functionality that allows other people to see the exact physical location of your child. To learn more about the safety and privacy risks tied to geotagging, click here.

Safari, YouTube and App Store

UPDATE: If you have iOS7 installed on your child’s iPod Touch (and I recommend that you do), you’ll notice that Apple has integrated some very effective and easy-to-use parental controls in Safari. You can see a detailed breakdown of how to set this up, here.

If you want a safe web browser for your child’s iPhone, disable Safari and download one of these browsers. I definitely have my favorite, but here are a few to choose from:

It’s also worth noting that the YouTube app cannot be filtered with YouTube Safety Mode, so like I did with my son’s iPod Touch, you might find it necessary to completely disable YouTube app. You can still enable Safety Mode by opening your newly-installed web browser and going to the full web version of YouTube. Simply open the mobile browser and go to You’ll automatically be presented with the mobile version of the site, so just scroll all the way down to the bottom and select the link called “Desktop”. This will change the page to the web version of the site. From here just follow these directions to set up and lock YouTube safety mode. This will prevent your child from coming across any risky videos.

And finally, I turned off the ability for my son to install apps without my permission. Turning this off removes the App Store button from the device entirely. In my opinion, the App Store is still a little too much of a free market, and because of this, there are far too many inappropriate apps available to children.

Content Restrictions

From there you’ll want to set the content restrictions for movies, TV shows and music.

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Note that setting the Explicit setting to OFF makes it so any explicit songs that your child may already have on their iPod become unavailable. It also disables all explicit purchases in the iTunes Store. 

There’s also the option to set the age restrictions for downloading apps from the App Store, but I found this to be somewhat useless as it still allows your child to see the adult apps and read the description. They are only prevented from downloading it to their iPod.


More resources:

iPod Touch Parental Controls Guide

iPad Parental Controls Guide

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  • Security is a must and many apps we do not allow on our childrens iPhones. What I will also add is discussing the time involved on Vine (removed) and SnapChat (also removed) was the quality and time absorbed from other more constructive and productive activities. It should never be presumed just because its popular that its even worth investing time in , home videos with a vid cam and learning editing on a computer provided even more learning experience than the instant gratification of online app access. That ultimately helped out children mature in their use .

  • The best defense is education. Teach kids about the perils of interacting with strangers (it is not a smartphone phenomenon). Teach them about the importance of privacy and that information about us is precious and valuable. Explain that Data Brokers are selling their information to others and that this information could one day prevent them from getting into a college or landing that dream job. Make them aware that marketers will constantly tempt them to trade convenience for information and privacy. A healthy awareness will help them self police which is for more effective than us parents trying to come up with a defense for every new app.

  • As a note to parents, similar to the comment above, one thing my 13 year old daughter did to get around all the safe controls I’d set up on her iPhone (disabled Safari, You Tube, set age appropriate settings on apps, music & movies) was to download the Google app and go from there. And there are no real parent controls within this app. Unfortunately I didn’t pick up on this for a couple months. If I could do it all over again, I would have resisted the urge to give her a smart phone in the first place, and instead would have found one that just makes calls and allows texting (Jitterbug for teens?) The jeanie is out of the bottle and she has the phone, and it’s a shame to have to turn off all the phone’s positive capabilities (e.g. checking the school blog for homework assignments and the good videos on You Tube) along with the bad, therefore I think we’ll try out the free AVG Family Safety app.

    • Hi Kim:

      Glad you’re going to try the AVG app. It’s what we use in my home (along with a few others as I like to use everything we review here.) Consider having your daughter sign a technology contract. It helps remind them in black and white what is okay and what isn’t. It also give your kids boundaries. It’s not full proof, but between your involvement, using great tools, and holding your kids accountable with follow through for breaking the rules, your daughter, and your family will be well ahead of almost all others – and on your way to reaping just the positive benefits. Thanks for writing and for being involved, Kim.

      Mary Kay

    • Its really easy to hack those restrictions. I did it in less than 2 minutes.
      And Im 12. 🙂 ANyways, about vine, you just watch your kid and when they are asleep, check out there vines and see what they are posting. 🙂 Also, ask to be a part of making vines. Make sure your involved in everything and if you catch her doing somthing wrong, dont scold her. Just delete the bad video. Also, REMEMBER to be part of her vines! and encourage comedy, and stop motion. Help her hold the camara, and be part of her vining experience. It will make you and your daughter, even closer. She will feel like you care about what shes doing.

  • Rob, while bsafe and other parental control apps are good, unfortunately there are ways around them, even if you deactivate Safari. For example, there are several Apps that have the capability to connect to the internet from their own app. Apps such as Wikipedia, Yelp! and many, many, many others are capable of connecting directly to the internet, so becareful! Unfortunately there is so much trash and evil on the internet. While I see the value of the internet, I believe only time will tell how much damage it is going to cause to our society the fact that we have given full freedom to so much evil to be freely posted out there. The more we push God out of our society and allow evil to flourish, the worst our society will become.

    • I don’t mind plugging this because it’s going to be completely free. I’m the CEO of MetaCert. We are almost ready to launch our iPad browser which blocks more pornography than any other technology in the world – over 632 million pages. And you can add whatever sites you want to the block list. Keep an eye out for “Olly” Following the iPad will be a browser for iPhone.

  • This is great advice. But we all know our teens are smart and we bought them the I-phone for a reason. Maybe it was for school, maybe it was because they have proven to be capable of making good decisions. The fact is no matter what the reason or the age, it is our duty to help them project themselves from using the phone inappropriately. We also need to protect them from their own temptations. One very effective way I have found to do this is to first install bsafeonline on my family computer. This is the best software I have found to protect my family from what’s out there. Once you have done that, you can then install the free mobile app for bsafe of the Iphone while at the same time disabling safari. ( do not have to have bsafe on your computer to install the free mobile app, I just recommend it for management)
    Here’s the benefit: if your teen or anyone else tries to search any unauthorized material, you will receive an alert in your e-mail with a full description.
    Hope this helps.

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