How to Block Websites on an iPhone [August 2020]

Blocking specific websites allows you to have more control over the content your children can access on their iPhones. In fact, iOS has a feature that blocks adult content and you can manually insert URLs for all websites you’d like to disable. Often used for children, the ability to block illicit content on an iPhone is a useful new tool.

Using your iPhone or iPad there are several ways to limit content without having to download any third-party applications.

The best thing about these restrictions is that they apply to all browsers including Safari, Chrome, and Firefox. You won’t need to go back and access each browser’s settings to set website restrictions.

Check out the following sections for a step-by-step guide on how to do block websites with your iPhone or iPad.

Utilize Screen Time Options for iOS 12 or Higher

iOS features a Screen Time tab that keeps track of your app usage. In addition, this is where you can block certain websites and set more usage restrictions for specific apps. Here is what you need to do.

Launch Screen Time

Launch the Settings app and tap Screen Time to access more options – You can also pull down from the main screen in Settings to access the search bar, then type Screen Time and go directly to the next step.

Tap ‘Content & Privacy Restrictions’

Then, tap Content & Privacy Restrictions and you’ll be presented with a comprehensive menu from which you can block or restrict almost anything on your phone.

content and privacy restrictions

Limit Websites

To restrict websites and other online content, toggle Content Restrictions on. Select Web Content and choose “Limit Adult Websites” or “Allowed Websites Only” to set restrictions.

web content

Setting the Parameters – Your Options

There are a lot of options for you to manage the content available to the user of an iOS device. Let’s review each option so that you can make the most informed decision and set up the perfect controls for your situation.

Limit Adult Websites

If you select the Limit Adult Websites option, you can limit access to many adult websites automatically. Specific allowed and restricted websites can be added below.

Below that will be Always Allow and Add Website – that you can tap to add websites you want to always allow even if they’re blocked by the general restriction on adult sites.

Below that, you’ll find Never Allow and Add Website – where you can add websites you want to block in addition to the ones blocked by the general restrictions on Adult sites. Never Allow is where you add websites you specifically want to block.

Allowed Websites Only

The Allowed Websites Only blocks all websites except for a list of child-friendly websites such as Disney, Discovery Kids, HowStuffWorks, National Geographic – Kids, PBS Kids, and other kid-friendly sites. If you scroll to the end of the list of allowed websites, you can Add Websites that you’d like to allow.

You can include more by tapping on Add Website but it’s important to note that all other online websites will be blocked other than the ones listed there. Typically Allowed Websites only is used for an iPhone used by a child.

Unrestricted Access

Unrestricted Access, of course, enables you to access any website you want from your iPhone.

Blocking Websites with iOS 11 or Earlier

The previous steps apply for iPhones and iPads that are using iOS 12 or later. Prior to iOS 12, there were no Screen Time options and you had to access restrictions in a different way.

If your iPhone is running iOS 11, open Settings and select the General tab, then tap Restrictions.

Next, tap Enable Restrictions and provide the passcode you use to unlock your iPhone. You’ll need to do this twice.

That out of the way, you should tap Allowed Content and tap Websites to access the settings.

Next, you’ll be taken to the menu where you can block particular URLs. Similar to iOS 12, you get to choose All Websites, Limit Adult Content, and Allowed Websites Only.

Other Screen Time Restrictions

Aside from blocking specific websites, Screen Time offers two more restrictions you might find useful, especially if a child is using the phone.

Downtime allows you to set a schedule and limit the phone and app usage. To be precise, during the Downtime period only calls and allowed apps are at the user’s disposal. And you can also choose to set blocks for specific types of applications.

screen time

Tap on App Limits, choose “Add Limit” and select the app category – Games, for example. Hit Next at the top right of the screen and set the timer to the desired number of hours and minutes. There is an option to customize the days of the week when you want the limit to be effective. Once you are done, hit Add and you’re good to go.

games

Screen Time passcode is an extra layer of protection that can ensure your child doesn’t change the settings. Tap the “Use Screen Time Passcode” and select a four-digit code that you’ll use to change the settings once the limit expires. It is advisable to use a code different than the one that unlocks your iPhone but also one that you won’t forget.

Screen Time also gives you the option to block all web searches including Google and Siri. If your child is overly curious about things you’d rather not explain at their current age, this is a way to keep them from searching for content.

Screen Time for Family

From iOS 12 onwards, it has become super easy to set parental controls on an iPhone. The system gives you the option to add existing Apple IDs of your kid’s accounts and keep track of their browsing habits and phone usage from your device. Of course, you can also create an account for your child and sync it with his or her iPhone.

This way, there is no need to snatch the child’s device to make changes and you can set all the restrictions remotely. The best thing about Screen Time for Family is that the interface is super easy to use even if you are not really tech-savvy.

how to block websites on an iphone - screenshot 5

Choose one of the options from the initial screen and follow the setup wizard. Once you are done, you’ll get notifications about the child’s screen time and usage.

If you’d like to let your child play a little longer they can send a request to your phone or you can type your passcode into their phone to allow them more time without removing the restrictions.

Turning off Screen Time is pretty easy as well. Accessing the Screen Time settings, all you need to do is scroll to the bottom and click on the red “Turn Off Screen Time.” You will be prompted to put in the passcode you’ve set to disable to feature. All limits will be removed until you decide to turn it back on.

Settings for Safari

Safari is the default web browser used on an iPhone. When you’re done blocking a website using Screen time, you might as well make sure that your Safari web browser settings are set to provide some protection against fraudulent websites. To do this tap ‘Settings’ to open the Settings app, scroll down, and then tap Safari.

Make sure that the Fraudulent Website warning option is toggled to on.

iPhone Settings for Safari

 Apps to Block Websites on iPhone

If you are not satisfied with the native iOS options, you can always check out one of many third-party parental control apps. What’s more, some carriers like Verizon and T-mobile have their own apps that allow you to block and manage online content.

If you’re not satisfied with the native solution, it’s advisable to go with the one from your carrier, if available. Whatever you choose, make sure that the app allows decent restriction options without any hidden fees.

Can you block pop-ups on an iPhone?

Yes. Sometimes popups will appear in Safari when you’re accessing content through the browser, you can prevent these secondary windows from appearing by heading to the ‘Settings’ on your phone. Once there, click on ‘Safari’ then toggle the ‘Block pop-ups’ option on. While there, also toggle the ‘Fraudulent website warning’ on. This will help you to prevent any third-party scams or phishing sites.

While not inherently dangerous, some pop-ups can lead you to scam websites while others are just a nuisance.

Can I block app downloads?

Yes, well sort of. One thing that’s really useful for those on iOS is the ability to set up Family Sharing. Doing so is simple and can be done through the iCloud settings on your phone.

Add the members you’d like to have in the Family Share group and toggle the ‘Ask to Buy’ function on. This feature means that before someone can download an app it must have approval from your device. This works for free apps as well as paid ones.

Can I block in-app purchases?

Yes, and there are a few ways to do this. You can set your iTunes preferences to require a password or every purchase. Using the Screen Time settings, you can block purchases. There is also the Ask to Buy option we mentioned above that can be set up using Family Sharing.

Another option to block in-app purchases is by contacting your cell phone carrier. Some mobile subscription charges can bill directly to your cell phone account. If this happens you can contact your carrier and request a block on your account, they may also give you a refund if you weren’t aware of the in-app purchase.

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