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What are parental controls?

Parental controls are the names for a group of settings that put you in control of what content your child can see. Combined with privacy settings these can help you protect your children from the things they shouldn't see or experience online.

How do parental controls work?

Pre-installed parental controls are available for most smartphones, tablets, laptops and game consoles, and are part of the system when you buy them. You can often download additional parental control apps and software to supplement these controls. But the most important thing is to set the controls on the device itself.

Children are using devices at a younger age so it's important to consider setting controls on the devices they use.

Many parents are put off using controls and settings as they think they will be difficult to set up, or complicated to use. With our step by steps guides, we can help make it simple and straightforward

Here’s a guide on how to set up basic parental controls on your child's smartphone for both Android and Apple:


When setting up the phone you will need to activate a Google account on the handset. You can use your own Google account or create/use the account of your child. You will be enabling a PIN on the handset that you will be using to set parental controls.

  1. Launch the Google “Play Store” application on your handset
  2. From the pop out menu scroll down and tap “Settings”
  3. In the “Settings” section scroll down and tap on “Parental controls”
  4. Enable parental controls by tapping on the radio button
  5. You will be now prompted to create a PIN
  6. You can now set restrictions for “Apps & games”, “Films”, “TV”, “Magazines” and “Music” all of which are accessed via the Play Store
  7. Now you can enable your handset to require the Google account password when making purchases. Return to the “Settings” menu within the “Play Store” app (Steps 2-4)
  8. Scroll down and select “Require authentication for purchases”
  9. On the “Require authentication” pop-up you can select to require your Google account password for all purchases, open a 30-minute window where all purchases are allowed after inputting your password, or disable authentication entirely
  10. Finally, now block the device from being able to install applications from services other than the “Play store” where we have placed the restrictions. From your devices “home Screen” swipe down from the top of the screen and then select the settings cog.

Using Screen Time to set content privacy restrictions and manage in-app purchases

  1. Go to “Settings” and tap “Screen Time”
  2. Tap Continue, then choose “This is My [Device]” or “This is My Child's [Device].”
  3. If it's a shared device and you'd like to ensure settings are not changed then tap “Use Screen Time Passcode”. Then re-enter the passcode to confirm. If it's a child's device, you can follow prompts until you get to Parent Passcode and enter a passcode. Re-enter to confirm.
  4. Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions”. If asked, enter your passcode, then you can turn on Content & Privacy.
  5. Once you have set up your code, in this section, you can manage in-app purchase, access to apps and automatically filter website content to limit access to adult content in Safari and apps on your device
  6. Tap “iTunes & App Store Purchases”
  7. Choose a setting and set it to “Don't Allow”
  8. Please note you can also change your password settings for additional purchases from the iTunes & App Store or Book Store. Follow steps 1-3, then choose Always Require or Don't Require.

Although device Parental Controls and Privacy Settings are useful tools to help minimise the risks your children may face, they are not 100% effective. Device Parental Controls won't filter out specific types of content through the internet, you'll need to set these controls separately on any entertainment site or apps they use (such as YouTube, Chrome or Netflix) and on the network, they are connected to.

It's really important to teach your child skills like critical thinking and resilience, so they know what do if they encounter risk. Always encourage them to talk to you about anything they find upsetting online.

For more information on parental controls and how to set them on different devices and operating systems, click the link below:

Smartphones and other devices

Children are using devices at a younger age so it's important to consider setting controls on the devices they use. We've pulled together a number of guides to give you simple steps to set controls on a range of devices.

If you are with EE as your network provider, check out our EE set up safe guide which helps to keep your children safe online by providing age-specific packages.