Parental Controls and Filtering



Setting the right parental controls and privacy settings on mobile networks, devices, apps and websites can help you to manage what your child sees and does online.

What are parental controls useful for?

Parental controls help you to manage and restrict what your child can see and do online – from sites they can view to the apps they can download and purchases they can make. Controls can be especially useful for keeping younger children safer, while also teaching them the skills they need to navigate the online world themselves once they’re given the freedom to do so. 

With the support of additional built-in filters offered by mobile and broadband providers, you have many options for reducing the risk of your child coming across malicious, inappropriate or upsetting content. Parental controls are also increasingly relevant across multiple devices and accounts, especially as gaming online becomes more social. Read below for advice and further reading for the providers, platforms and devices your family uses.

Mobile Phones

The UK’s main mobile providers (Vodafone, EE, 02 and Three) automatically block 18+ rated content through Active Choice network-level filtering system. It’s important to remember when connected to Wi-Fi (at home or elsewhere) that these filters won’t apply.

Parental control options for mobiles include:

Android (LG, Sony, Samsung, Huawei, HTC, Nokia, Motorola)
You can limit which apps, games and content can be downloaded and disable features such as location and camera. Read more

On/off systems for features such as Facetime, in-app purchases and Safari. Read more

Windows 10 Phone (Lumia)
The My Family option lets you restrict the games and apps that can be accessed. There’s also the Apps Corner option, which limits content if your child borrows your phone. Read more

Home computers

Macs and PCs both offer parental controls with different levels of flexibility within their respective operating systems. Dependent on whether you have a Mac or PC, the options vary and allow management on additional devices using the same OS.

Parental control options for Macs and PCs include:

Windows 10
You can get reports on your child’s online activity and manage time on Windows 10, Xbox One and Android devices, and set adult approval on purchases, apps, games and media. Additionally you can block websites and monitor spending habits, while Microsoft Launcher on Windows 10/Android phones can track location. Read more

Apple lets you block specific functions, i.e. Siri, camera, games, apps and Mail contacts. It can also limit access to sites and iTunes, restrict non-appropriate content, and set specific time limits for weekdays, weekends and bedtime. Read more


Your web browser lets you control content and search options. Whether you are using Chrome, Explorer or Firefox, there are options to prevent apps being downloaded, and to block sites containing nudity, violence and inappropriate content.

Don’t forget to apply your desired settings across every browser installed on every family computer and device.

Search engines

Google also has options to manage what your child can search for. Google SafeSearch can filter out most adult sites and report inappropriate content. YouTube can also be restricted in a similar way. Read more

Other search engines, such as Bing and Yahoo, have their own safe search options, found under settings – this is typically displayed with a cog icon.


As gaming becomes an increasingly social and interactive activity, it is important to make sure your child’s devices and accounts are suitably restricted to age-appropriate limits.
Consoles like the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch all offer their own options, including time and spending limits, and managing access to content, sites and purchases. 

Three steps for using parental controls to encourage safer gaming:

1. Consoles and app store settings give you the option to limit what games your child can play, based on PEGI age ratings, to ensure they don’t make inappropriate purchases. 

2. If you are not comfortable with your child playing online, or if you don’t want them chatting with people outside of their friends list, you can disable chat functions or restrict gaming to friend circles.

3. Many games let players block, report or mute anyone they do not want contact with. Make sure your child knows how to do this in each of the games they are playing.

Additional support

Vodafone Secure Net protects your family from harmful websites and viruses. 

Vodafone Content Control prevents access to online content and services rated 18+ on the Vodafone mobile network.


This article is by Parent Zone, the experts in digital life.