Parental controls

Advice on setting up parental controls to help you keep your child safe online.

What are parental controls?

Parental controls help you to block or filter upsetting or inappropriate content, and control purchases within apps. You can install parental control software on your child's and family's phones or tablets, games consoles, laptops and your home internet.

Parental controls can help you to:

    • plan what time of day your child can go online and how long for
    • create content filters to block apps that may have inappropriate content
    • manage the content different family members can see.

Setting up parental controls on:

Lots of mobiles, tablets and computers come with settings that help you to manage what your child can and can't see or do online.

You can:

    • check things like location settings and what information your child's sharing.
    • get more advice about setting up controls on different devices from the UK Safer Internet Centre and mobile providers.

Home internet providers can offer parental controls for your child. You can:

    • use a filter from your internet provider to control the content that you and your family see.
    • set up any device connected to your home broadband. How you do this depends on your provider and you'll need to access your home router. You can visit Internet Matters website for step-by-step guides on how to do this.
    • make sure your child uses the internet through WiFi instead of through 3G, 4G or 5G. Otherwise parental controls won't work.

Most games consoles have internet access, which means your child can go online and chat with other players or make in-game purchases. The controls on your games console help you to manage what your child can and can't do.

On some devices you can:

    • set up different profiles for each family member
    • deactivate the internet
    • turn off chat functions to stop your child from talking to people they don't know.

To help prevent your child seeing upsetting or inappropriate content online, you can:

    • explore with your child what they're doing online before they do it, so that you can decide what's age-appropriate together.
    • set up parental controls on smart TVs and services like Netflix, Sky, BBC iPlayer and YouTube, so your child can only watch age-appropriate shows and TV.

Sometimes, innocent searches can lead to not so innocent results.

If you're worried:

    • make sure the content your child sees online is appropriate for their age by using parental controls and filters in search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing.
    • you visit Internet Matters for more information on how to do this.

The controls you've set up on your child's device and your home broadband won't work if they use 3G or 4G, public WiFi or log onto a friend's connection instead.


    • public WiFi is often available when you're out and about, but it's not always safe.
    • some public places and businesses offer family-friendly WiFi. When you see the family-friendly WiFi symbol it means there are filters to stop children from seeing inappropriate or upsetting content.
    • talk with your child and agree what they can and can't do online. If your child's visiting friends or family remember that they might not have the same controls set up.

It can be hard to keep track of all the apps, games or social media networks your child may be using and what they are.

It can help to: 

    • remember some apps let young people send messages to each other or store personal information. Others are for playing games or having fun. 
    • talk with your child about their privacy settings and explore different social networks, apps and games together.
    • use Net Aware, in partnership with O2, to help you set up parental controls on popular apps and networks. 

Worried about a child?

If you're worried about something a child or young person may have experienced online, you can contact the NSPCC helpline for free support and advice. Call us on 0808 800 5000 or contact us online.

Children can contact Childline any time to get support themselves.

Get support

Support to set up parental controls

Talking to your child so that you understand what they're doing online can help you to explain and protect them from any risks, such as grooming and seeing inappropriate content.

For further support, you can:

    • visit an O2 Guru in store – our trained advisors can help you set up parental controls.
    • use Net Aware to have a look at the apps, sites and games children like to play online.