How to Use Parental Controls for iPad

These days, kids are using tech devices almost as much as their parents. But of course, handing over your iPad to a small child can often prove perilous. Thus, Apple has wisely supplied you with some iPad parental controls to help make it easier on both you and the tiny human(s) in your care. There are actually two different ways to control access and usability on your iPad –“Guided Access” and “Restrictions.” Keep reading for more information on each, and of course how to enable and use both features. (And fyi, all the parental controls on iPad can be accessed on iPhone as well.)

Guided Access

The first of the two available parental controls for iPad is called “Guided Access.” This is a temporary feature that allows you to lock into an app, so the child using the device can’t accidentally (or purposefully) navigate elsewhere. This is especially useful for young children who don’t necessarily know how to navigate an iPad well enough to stay within the game they’re playing. For example, a friends’ six month old once accidentally dialed 911 while looking at pictures on her mom’s iPhone. We were all very surprised when the police showed up at her door. But even more surprising, was how un-surprised the police were when we realized what had happened –apparently the “toddler dial” is now way more prevalent than the “butt dial.” So, if you have an infant in need of some reigning-in, check out the steps below to learn how to enable Guided Access on your iPad.

Enable Guided Access

1. Open Settings.


2. Tap “General.”


3. Tap “Guided Access.”

guided access

4. Set up your passcode by entering a four number sequence (don’t forget it!).

set passcode

5. The Guided Access button will now be green, meaning it’s enabled. Tap “Accessibility Shortcut” to be able to triple click to enter Guided Access mode on your phone whenever you want.

enable guided access

Using Guided Access

Now that you’ve enabled Guided Access, let’s explore how to use it. When you wish to use Guided Access, simply triple click your home button to enable, and further specify, your iPad parental controls. From here, you can tap the “options” button at the bottom to decide which actions you’d like to disable (for example: you can prevent the volume from being able to be adjusted. Nobody needs to hear Barney at a higher volume than absolutely necessary.)

guided access options

You can also tap the “Time Limit” button to set how long the little tyke can use the app.

time limits

And, coolest of all, you can circle any features you wish to disable. Use your finger to draw a circle around, say, the button that allows you to buy stuff in Candy Crush and save yourself the horror of discovering your child stocked up on a hundred dollars worth of lollipop hammers.

circle off limit areas

You can even turn off the touch capabilities of the iPad all together by toggling the “Touch” button. This would be convenient if the kids were watching a movie, for example.

turn on guided access

To exit Guided Access mode simply triple click the home button again and, when prompted, enter your security passcode.


Restrictions are a bit more wide reaching and permanent than Guided Access. Here you’re able to set what content can be seen, disable entire apps altogether, block websites, etc. These restrictions are more about age-appropriate usage, rather than keeping a young child from accidentally texting “ajkhjklfdngrjk” to everyone in your address book. And believe me, kids reach this level quickly. (Seriously, my three year old niece is better on an iPad than I am. I thought about asking her to collaborate with me on this article. However, despite her technological prowess, she has yet to grasp the whole “reading” thing, so I figured it might prove difficult). Enabling and using the iPad parental controls in Restrictions can save you from having to grow that pair of eyes in the back of your head, at least when it comes to monitoring the kiddos’ internet usage.

Enable Restrictions

1. Open Settings.

restrictions settings

2. Tap “General.”


3. Tap “Restrictions.”


4. Tap “Enable Restrictions.”

enable restrictions

5. Enter a four digit passcode (again, don’t forget it!).

set passcode

Once you do that, Restrictions will be enabled. From here you’ll be able to navigate through the many options for restricting access to content.

Using Restrictions Settings

Scroll through the list of apps and features. If you wish to restrict access to any of them, simply toggle the button from the green “on” position to the white “off” position. You can also turn off the ability to install or delete apps entirely.

allowed apps

Scroll further and you’ll see the “Allowed Content” section. Tap on any of the options to be able to set age limits, acceptable movie ratings, block websites, etc.

allowed content
Under “Privacy” you can decide whether to allow changes to your contacts, calendars, volume settings, etc.

privacy settings

Once you have your restrictions set, those iPad parental controls will always be in use. To override any of the settings, so you can have full access to the device, you’ll simply be asked to input your four digit passcode.

So folks, anyone got a good story from before you wised-up to the ways of parental controls? Like maybe that time your ever-so-lovely child sent that nsfw photo to your boss? Please, do share.

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