Limiting Access to Certain iOS Apps and Features

Today's post comes from a reader. They ask, "Is there a way to restrict what apps my children have access to on their iPad and/or iPhone?" The short answer is yes, and not only is it easy to set up and manage, but this feature happens to do more than just limit what apps the user can use. The question was asked with specific apps in mind... Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, etc.

I see this fairly often when it comes to social networking. Social networks can be a fun way to stay in touch with family, friends and loved ones, but it can also be used as a trap if you aren't careful. In some cases, it's better to just restrict access to these services altogether.

iOS has a built-in feature called "Restrictions" that as you can imagine, restricts access to specific things. For example, if you want to limit access to an app, you simply turn that app off (or restrict it), and the app is no longer accessible on that device. The app is still there, just hidden from view.

To enable Restrictions, we must first set a passcode (this passcode can be the same as the device passcode, or different). To do this, go to Settings > General > Restrictions. At this point, tap "Enable Restrictions", and enter your passcode two times (for confirmation).

Now that the Restrictions feature has been enabled, it's time to start restricting. You will immediately see a list of iOS built-in apps (Safari, Camera, iBook Store, etc). To limit access to an app, simply slide the slider to the left, and the app icon will be hidden from view on the Home screen (in other words, it will be disallowed).

In this case, I have disabled access to Safari, FaceTime or Siri.

If you want to limit access to a third-party app (such as Instagram or SnapChat), you must first remove the app from the device (tap and hold on the app from the Home screen, wait for the icons to jiggle, then tap the "X" to remove the app), then disallow the installation of new apps from Restrictions.

As you scroll through the options available in Restrictions, you will see that you can also limit what the user has access to in the various online Apple stores (for example, they would only have access to rated G or PG movies). When configured properly, these settings can be pretty powerful.

As you scroll even further on the Restrictions screen, you will see additional options related to privacy (location services, events, microphone, social networking, Bluetooth sharing, etc) as well as system settings.

As long as these settings are properly used, it can be a huge help to parents in preventing unwanted content and material from being consumed on these devices.

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Posted on April 3, 2015 and filed under How To, iOS, iPad, iPhone.