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Child Control

With Content & Privacy Restrictions in Screen Time, you can block or limit specific apps and features on your child's device. You can also restrict the settings on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch for explicit content, purchases and downloads, and privacy.

Child Control

Make sure to choose a passcode that's different from the passcode that you use to unlock your device. To change or turn off the passcode on your child's device, tap Settings > Screen Time > [your child's name]. Then tap Change Screen Time Passcode or Turn Off Screen Time Passcode, and authenticate the change with Face ID, Touch ID, or your device passcode.

With iOS 16, while you're setting up Screen Time for a child's device, you can set age-related restrictions for content in apps, books, TV shows, and movies. Just follow the onscreen instructions during setup.

The privacy settings on your device give you control over which apps have access to information stored on your device or the hardware features. For example, you can allow a social-networking app to request access to use the camera, which allows you to take and upload pictures.

Information about products not manufactured by Apple, or independent websites not controlled or tested by Apple, is provided without recommendation or endorsement. Apple assumes no responsibility with regard to the selection, performance, or use of third-party websites or products. Apple makes no representations regarding third-party website accuracy or reliability. Contact the vendor for additional information.

Tip: Parental controls for each type of content aren't available in every country. If you travel to a country where they aren't available, they might not work until you get back home.

As a PCMag security analyst, I report on security solutions such as password managers and parental control software, as well as privacy tools such as VPNs. Each week I send out the SecurityWatch newsletter filled with online security news and tips for keeping you and your family safe on the internet.

Before you start imposing limits and restrictions though, take some time to learn how your connected kid uses technology. Communicate with your child before implementing any of these options, as it is important they feel you respect their privacy. Otherwise, they'll find a way around any restrictions, even if you put them in place with your kids' best interests in mind. Also, as tech addiction increasingly becomes a problem, it's important children learn the value of good device habits for themselves.

Norton Family encourages parents to talk to their children about online safety rather than just spying on their online activities. Norton Family can supervise an unlimited number of devices and lets you monitor all your kids' activity from the web or from a parent option on the mobile app. We love the program's affordability, easy setup, and handy geofencing tools.

Parents who communicate well with their children. We admire Norton Family's unique approach to parental control, which emphasizes cooperation and open dialogue between parents and children with the House Rules and Request Access features.

Circle's joint hardware and software solution is easy to set up and a quality solution for parents who want to monitor their children's internet activity. You can manage devices on your home network while also keeping tabs on Android and iOS devices.

Circle Home Plus is not an inexpensive option by any means, but it may be a great value for large households with a lot of children who use internet-connected devices. Parents can monitor an unlimited number of devices with a single subscription and also manage screen time limits for each child.

Mobicip offers an excellent range of parental control features with three very affordable subscription pricing options. Parents can keep tabs on their child's location, monitor the YouTube videos they watch, and manage their screen time limits.

Want to keep an eye on who your child is interacting with on certain social networking apps? Mobicip makes that possible, as it is one of the best parental control services we've reviewed that still offers social media monitoring. You can access this feature by signing up for the Premium plan.

Parents who want a more hands-off approach to parental control tools. If you are primarily looking for an easy way to keep track of your child's location or manage their screen time, Locategy is a good option.

Qustodio has just about every feature an anxious parent wants, including web content filtering, robust app blocking, and a detailed activity log. You handle all configuration and monitoring either via Qustodio's attractive and easy-to-use online dashboard or the parental mode of its mobile apps, which means you can set rules and review your child's activity from anywhere.

Parents who want to keep tabs on what their children are doing online with the comprehensive Net Nanny Family Feed, which shows their activity in real-time. It also offers some social media protection when it comes to monitoring child activity on various social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, and Tumblr.

Gone are the days when a single parental control utility on the family PC was sufficient for keeping your kids safe and productive. Modern kids use all kinds of internet-connected devices, and parental control systems must keep up.

Note that some parental control utilities leverage VPN technology, running internet connections through a local app to enable content filtering. You'll see the VPN icon when such a utility is active, but it doesn't mean the child's connection is secured by a full-scale virtual private network, nor that the device's IP address is masked.

Check, too, that any limits on the number of child profiles or devices won't be a problem. Large families, for example, will appreciate that Norton Family works on an unlimited number of devices. Most parental control software operates as a subscription service, so pricing tiers tend to align with device limits, though some offer free versions for basic protection on a limited number of devices. If your kids are strictly smartphone users, take a look at our roundup of mobile parental control apps.

If getting parental control coverage installed on each of your family's devices starts to seem too difficult, consider a whole-network solution, such as Circle Home Plus. These systems perform content filtering at the router level, so your settings affect every device on the network. Naturally, you don't get the same fine level of control and detailed monitoring you get with a local agent on each device, but this is a much broader solution.

Some kids spend more time on gaming consoles than any other device. The parental control services in this roundup don't cover consoles, but we can help you learn how to enable parental controls on gaming consoles.

Most also have the option to permanently enable SafeSearch, though those settings are often limited to Google, Bing, and sometimes YouTube. Your child can thwart most SafeSearch restrictions by using a privacy-focused search engine such as DuckDuckGo. Of course, the most capable solutions also keep a detailed log of your child's web activity.

Access scheduling is another very common feature. Some services let parents set a daily or weekly schedule for device usage. Others specifically restrict the amount of time your kid spends on the internet. Qustodio lets you set time restrictions on individual mobile and desktop apps. This is particularly useful for children who have a habit of playing games or using social media apps when they should be doing homework. The most helpful time-based settings apply to all your kids' devices, so they just can't switch between them to evade limits.

As kids get older, content filtering may start to seem pointless. At some point, you start to worry more about their interaction with the wider world. Sure, if their friends come over in person, you can at least meet them, but what about friends on social media and other contacts your child never mentions? Who are they, really, and what are your kids discussing with them? Although some supervision is acceptable, you still need to respect your child's basic right to privacy and encourage open discussion, rather than using parental control software as spyware.

Some services let you monitor contacts and messages and keep an eye out for potentially dangerous or unsanctioned situations. You can even block new contacts or view message content with some parental control software. Keep in mind, this primarily applies to SMS texts; messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Snapchat, and Signal do not fall under the same scope. Most of the services we've tested have given up monitoring social media for now.

You can use parental control software to block access to video streaming apps and sites, as well as limit how much time your child can spend using them. However, if you are looking to restrict what your child can watch on Netflix, Disney+, and other video streaming services, none of these parental control tools provide that capability. Instead, you need to dive into the settings of each video streaming service.

The parental control capabilities of video streaming services vary widely. Some do not offer any options to restrict content, while others may simply offer a kid-friendly mode that broadly limits the streaming library to content appropriate for young children. The best services allow you to set rating restrictions on individual profiles and prevent your kid from simply switching to an unmonitored profile without a password or PIN.

Most kids are on mobile devices at least some of the time, and many are almost exclusively accessing the internet on their phones. Fortunately, many parental control services offer a companion app that lets you view your child's activity, set basic rules, and view notifications as they arrive. This kind of companion app is particularly useful for responding to access or time-extension requests on the go. Otherwise, you manage everything online or locally on the PC, where you have fine control over activity reports and restrictions. Any changes you make should propagate to your children's devices when they connect to the internet.


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