The internet puts the world at your fingertips. From laughing at your favorite shows to shuddering at the news, anything you want to access is just a click away. But that may be worrisome if you’re a parent or teacher.
Children often have access to multiple devices. Make sure to project each of them by implementing parental controls. They are available on most major internet-enabled devices such as computers, smartphones, and gaming systems.
Parental controls help reduce the risk of your child viewing inappropriate content on the web. In addition to setting parental controls, it’s important to monitor your child’s internet activity and use age-appropriate settings on devices.
What Can Parental Controls Do?
Parental controls are software or device-specific options that allow parents to monitor their child’s internet use. They prevent children from accessing inappropriate, unsuitable, or illegal content online. They can be implemented within your internet service provider, search engines, video streaming sites, chat software, and more. Parental controls can practice the following prevention methods:
Control or block the video games your child can access
Filter web browsers and only show pre-approved websites
Prevent children from using certain services
Manage search engines to limit what a child can search online
Parental controls can prevent and filter a variety of inappropriate content for little ones. However, figuring out how to set parental controls on each device can be confusing. We explain how to set them on the following devices and services:
Most computer operating systems contain parental control settings to ensure your child is safe from the minute they turn on their device.
Content restrictions include:
Blocking inappropriate apps, games, and media
Requiring children to ask a parent before purchasing in the Microsoft Store
Blocking inappropriate websites
Blocking inappropriate apps, games, and media:
Head to this page and sign in with your Microsoft account.
Set up a child account through Windows Settings. If you already have one, find your child’s name and choose Content Restrictions.
Go to Apps, games & media and toggle Block inappropriate apps, games and media to On.
Under Allow apps and games rated for, choose the age limit you’d like to apply for your child.
When your child requests to access a blocked application or game, you can approve it by going to Content restrictions and adding it to the Always allowed list.
In the case that your child downloaded something prior to these limitations, you can block it by going to the Activity page. Your child will need permission to use it again and you can approve or disapprove via email.
Blocking inappropriate websites:
Sign in to your Microsoft account using this page.
Find your child’s name and click Content restrictions.
Scroll to Web browsing and toggle Block inappropriate websites from off to On.
For blocking specific sites, add their URLs under Always blocked.
To limit your child to only browse specific websites, check the box next to Only allow these websites.
Require kids to ask a parent before purchasing in the Microsoft Store:
Find your child’s name and then choose Content restrictions.
Choose the user account on the left side of the window that you want to enable filtering for (your child’s account). Note: Parental Controls cannot be enabled for administrator accounts. Make sure your child’s account has managed access and is not an admin.
Select “Enable Parental Controls.”
Click the Content tab.
Choose one of the three modes under Website Restrictions (unrestricted, automatic, whitelist).
Apple’s Internet content filter three modes:
“Allow unrestricted access to websites” (unrestricted): This logs websites that the account visits, but do not restrict web browsing. Parents can view visited websites under the Logs tab of Parental Controls preferences.
“Try to limit access to adult websites automatically” (automatic): Filters websites with inappropriate content similar to the way mail applications identify “junk” mail. This filter can identify whether a web page is safe or not by inspecting the website's text and structure. It also blocks websites if the website identifies as adult-oriented using RTA or Safe Surf rating systems. This setting logs all visited and blocked websites, and flags blocked websites in the Logs tab of Parental Controls preferences.
The internet content filter cannot examine the encrypted content of a page (HTTPS or SSL encryption). For this reason, encrypted websites must be allowed using the Always Allow list. If not, the encrypted websites will automatically be blocked.
“Allow access to only these websites” (whitelist): This will restrict any website that is not listed.
Now that you have the device’s OS system controlled, it’s time to start on internet browser parental controls. We have detailed instructions for the three most common internet browsers: Google Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.
Listed above, safari parental control is the same as Mac OS parental controls.
You can also see which sites your child visits in the Activity setting and approve/disapprove their requests to access sites.
Firefox automatically checks the parental controls on your device and sets itself to Prefer: Safe mode. This will auto turn on the safety feature on each website your child visits as long as there are active parental controls on your computer. The feature can only be turned off through password-protected parental settings on your operating system. That way your child will not be able to deactivate this feature through the Firefox browser. Here are Firefox add-ons for parental control.
While your OS system and internet browsers may be secure, it’s important to implement search engine parental controls. Kids will most likely use search engines to find websites for recreational use or educational use. Make sure their search is monitored by adding parental controls using our guide below.
When it comes to video content, there are millions of videos getting published daily. Keep your children protected from PG-13 to R-rated content with these parental controls for video streaming. We have added parental controls for the most common video streaming sites: YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu.
YouTube Kids has become available on both iOS and Android platforms. It is parental control enabled and filtered just for kids. YouTube Kids focuses its content on music, education, and other categories. We recommend downloading this to their iPhones (if applicable) and/or keeping YouTube locked/passcode enabled if downloaded on your phone. If you still want to use the original YouTube app, follow these steps.
Launch YouTube and sign in.
Click on your profile picture on the top right of the screen and select Restricted Mode.
It will then open a drop-down menu where you can toggle Restricted Mode on.
For iOS, click on your profile and under Settings toggle on the Restricted Mode button. For Android users, the option can be found under Settings – General.
Note: In order to make sure kids do not turn off parental controls, sign out of your YouTube account in the browser/app and the settings will be locked. The settings are browser-specific, so you will need to repeat them for every browser.
For Netflix, there are a variety of controls that you can choose from. They have hard and soft controls that parents can set up along with maturity levels for each individual profile.
Here are the types of age-limiting parental controls:
Little Kids: Only shows and movies suited for “all ages” will be available.
Older Kids: Media rated all ages, 7+ and some 13+ will be available.
Teens: Movies and shows suitable for teens (13+) will be shown.
Adults: All listed media will be available.
Account-level hard controls:
Requiring a PIN for specific maturity ratings: Set a 4-digit PIN that is required to play any video content above a selected maturity level on any profile. The PIN ensures that your child doesn’t watch content rated above the selected maturity level.
Requiring a PIN for specific video content: Set a 4-digit PIN that must be entered to play specific video content on any profile. This ensures your child does not watch the particular video content.
Enter your Netflix credentials and select Continue.
Enter four numbers into the PIN field — this will be your PIN.
Set your PIN protection level from the following choices:
Little Kids: all ages
Older Kids: 7+, some 13+
Adults: 16+, 18+
Account-level soft controls
Choose a maturity level for a profile: Set a maturity level for a profile to control the video content available for that profile. The parent or guardian then ensures their child only uses their correct profile.
Set the maturity level for a profile:
Go to your Account page and select Manage Profiles.
Choose the profile you’d to edit.
Under Allowed TV shows and movies, choose your desired maturity level.
Little kids only – G, TV-Y, TV-G: video content suitable for all ages
Older kids and below – PG, TV-Y7, TV-Y7-FV, TV-PG: video content suitable for older kids
Teens and below – PG-13, TV-14: video content suitable for teens
All Maturity levels – R, NC-17, TV-MA: watch all video content, including mature content
Note: the primary account holder’s profile can only be set to For Teens and below or All Maturity levels.
Hulu parental control is based on the age-associated with your Hulu profile. User accounts who specify an age under 17 will not be allowed to watch mature content (films rated R or TV-MA shows) using their individual profile. Hulu will also respect your device’s parental controls on devices such as an Xbox One. For Hulu Plus subscribers, there is a Hulu Kids section you can set up for your little ones.
In many households, gaming is a popular choice for children and teens. It can even be a more popular activity than spending time online, so it’s important to make sure your parental controls are secure. Follow these how-tos for the most popular gaming systems.
Block inappropriate apps, games, and media:
Sign in with your adult account on your Xbox.
Select the Xbox button on the controller to pull up the guide.
Select System > Settings > Account > Family.
Choose the account you want to update, select Access to content and then select the appropriate age limit you’d like.
When your child requests to use a blocked app or game, you can approve and add it to the Always allowed list under Content restrictions.
If your child has downloaded something prior to setting these restrictions, you can block it on the Activity page. They will need your permissions to use it again. The permission request will be sent via email.
Block inappropriate websites:
Sign in with your adult account on your Xbox.
Press the Xbox button to open up the guide and then choose System > Settings > Account > Family.
Select your child’s account that you wish to add the web filters to and then select Web filtering.
Select the drop-down to view all of the options.
Choose the desired level of web filtering.
Require kids to ask a parent/guardian before purchasing on Microsoft Store:
Sign in with your adult Account on the console.
Press the Xbox button to pull up the guide, then choose System > Settings > Account > Family and choose your child’s account.
Select Privacy & online safety > Xbox Live privacy > View details & customize > Buy & download and select On from the drop-down.
Choose the control setting based on the age of your child for both games and films.
If you are unsure which level to choose to prevent your child from playing a particular product, you can select the application or content from the XMB menu, press the Triangle button and then select Information.
Restrict the use of UMD and digital playback:
Go to Settings > Security Settings > Parental Control Level.
Input your password
Set the parental control level.
Once the levels are set, users who are restricted will see a padlock icon in place of the normal icon for the game or application. The default level is at 9, which is the 18 age rating.
Restrict the use of the internet browser:
Go to your Settings and scroll down to Security Settings. Then press the X button.
Select Internet Browser Start Control and press the X button.
Enter your 4 digit password.
Select On if you prefer to have the Internet Browser Start Control enabled.
Then press the circle button twice to exit out of the Internet Browser Start Control menu.
Whether your child has their own Android or Apple device or they use yours, it’s important to set up cell phone parental controls. You can turn off functions such as in-app purchasing, restricting web search, and more.
iPhone Parental Controls
Settings for iPhone and iPad in iOS 12
Set content & privacy restrictions:
Go to Settings and tap Screen Time.
Tap Continue, then select Use Screen Time Passcode to create a passcode. Re-enter the passcode to confirm.
Note: If you’re setting up Screen Time on your child’s device, follow the prompts until you get to Parent Passcode and enter a passcode. Then, re-enter the passcode to confirm.
Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions. Enter your passcode if applicable, then turn on Content & Privacy.
Prevent web content:
Go to Settings > Screen Time.
Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions and enter your Screen Time passcode.
Tap Content Restrictions, then tap Web Content.
Choose Limit Adult Websites, or Allowed Websites Only.
Prevent iTunes & App Store purchase:
Go to Settings > Screen Time.
Select Content & Privacy Restrictions. If prompted, enter your passcode.
Make your selections on which to Allow under Store Purchases & Redownloads.
Select Always Require a password.
Prevent explicit content and content ratings:
Go to Settings > Screen Time.
Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions, then choose Content Restrictions.
Choose the settings you want for each feature or setting under Allowed Store Content.
The final step you can take to secure your child’s online activity is with a parental control app. In the world of mobile phones and tablets, it adds a level of protection to keep your child safe.
Panda Dome Family helps you keep your child safe while spending time online. It allows system administrators to prevent users from accessing websites that contain unwanted content. It also features a GPS tracking system so you can always know where your children are. It can additionally block unwanted calls and allow parents/adults to block access to certain apps.
Panda Security specializes in the development of endpoint security products and is part of the WatchGuard portfolio of IT security solutions. Initially focused on the development of antivirus software, the company has since expanded its line of business to advanced cyber-security services with technology for preventing cyber-crime.