How to setup parental controls on Apple TV

Like many families, our Apple TV is connected to our family room television, accessible to my wife and our daugther. It makes it easy to watch all sorts of free programming (with subscription) including HBO GO, Netflix, assorted Disney channels. If you own an Apple TV, then you know it’s also connected to the iTunes Store, making it easy to purchase or rent movies or TV shows. In some cases, it’s too easy. Easy for kids who might know how to search, find and buy a program. From personal experience, it’s also easy for a toddler to grab the remote and within a few button presses, order a movie rental. As my 24-hour windows to watch a movie that I have no interest in watching concludes, I thought it might be a good idea to setup parental controls on Apple TV. In just a few steps, you too can protect your account from accidental purchases or charges made without your authorization.

setup parental controls on apple tv

Setup Parental Controls on Apple TV

By setting up parental restrictions on Apple TV, it will require anyone using the device to purchase or rent media, will be required to enter a four-digit passcode.

  1. Navigate to Settings > General > Restrictions
  2. Select (center button on your Apple TV remote) Turn On Restrictions
  3. You’ll be prompted to enter a 4-digit passcode. Make it easy, something that you’ll remember.
  4. Enter it once, and press ‘Done’.
  5. You’ll be prompted to Reenter your four-digit passcode.
  6. Once your passcode is confirmed, your Apple TV will recommend that you keep it in a safe place. Click OK to complete the process

Apple TV parental controls

What Happens Now That I Have A Passcode Set?

Having a passcode doesn’t limit access to your Apple TV. Kids will still be able to browse all of the various channels and even the iTunes Store. When anyone in your household attempts to make a purchase, they’ll have to enter the four-digit passcode to proceed.

Passcode required

Tip: There are plenty of free shows available on iTunes, mostly in the TV Shows section. If you want to test your passcode, you can do so by attempting to purchase a free show. Although it’s free, Apple considers it a purchase and you can preview your parental restrictions in action.

How do I remove a passcode from my Apple TV

In today’s world, it seems we have a password for everything. Netfix, HBO Go, your cable provider and now your Apple TV. What if you forget your passcode and want to rent movies? In this case, you have reset all settings. This is akin to a factory reset of your Apple TV. This will restore your Apple TV, removing any passcode. You will have to setup your Apple TV, entering in all of the revelvant login information for your channels.

Why you should enable parental restictions (controls) on your Apple TV

Your Apple TV is tied directly to your iTunes account, which has your credit card attached. While I’m out $5 or $6 for Saving Mr. Banks, it could have been much worse. Movie purchases are much more expensive and Apple doesn’t offer refunds on purchased media. While the name implies that ‘parental controls’ are to keep kids from unauthorized purchases, the current method of purchasing is easy enough where inexperienced users could inadvertantly make a purchase. Even if you rent or purchase movies often, entering a four-digit passcode is not time consuming at all.

Saving Mr. Banks

I’ve never felt the need to have a passcode. After setting one up, I can’t see a reason for not having one. It’s fast, easy and having a passcode in place will safeguard your account.

Have any horror stories related to unauthorized purchases on your Apple TV? Do you think Apple should offer a window for refunds on rented or purchased items? As for Saving Mr. Banks, I never did watch it. It was more of an inexpensive lesson-learned.