Apple TV 4: Restrictions and Parental Controls

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Apple TV 4 Restrictions and Parental Controls

Apple TV 4 brings new apps and content into your home, but this content is not suitable for all viewers. This article covers how to use Restrictions and parental controls on Apple TV 4 to keep explicit content away from your children and avoid unauthorized purchases.

TV shows, movies and music have come a long way since the days of Leave it to Beaver and Hollywood’s unwritten censorship code. Instead of seeing a train going through a tunnel, viewers often witness explicit content. There’s also a lot of violence, drug use and other objectionable behavior in contemporary media. To be fair, ancient Greek drama, certain Shakespeare plays and some operas would be considered explicit and inappropriate by some. Everyone has different values. Thanks to modern technology, viewers can now control and restrict content.

I enjoy Game of Thrones, but I am aware that the show is not suitable for a younger audience. Instead of censoring these programs for everyone, today we can use Restrictions and parental controls to limit access to explicit content.

Beyond explicit content, TV appliances like Apple TV 4 are virtual content vending machines. It’s very easy for anyone to purchase movies and TV shows using Apple TV. Fortunately, Restrictions can also prevent unauthorized purchases.

App Store and iTunes Store Sell Explicit Content

Apple is aware that explicit content can offend people. They are notorious for rejecting apps that some may find offensive. These policies are often unevenly applied. Many apps are rejected that aren’t any more explicit than an HBO show. Since HBO is a large corporation with millions of subscribers and a legal department, Apple wouldn’t dream of rejecting apps such as HBO NOW or HBO GO. In fact, Apple has gone out of their way to embrace HBO, even having their CEO speak at an Apple keynote. This means that you can’t assume a tvOS app sold in the App Store is appropriate for your children.

All models of Apple TV, including the fourth generation model, offer basic parental and purchasing controls, known as Restrictions. Beyond Apple’s parental controls, most tvOS apps offer their own mechanisms for restricting content. After all, HBO has taken on production of Sesame Street, but the same app offers explicit “late night” content and violent movies and TV shows. This article covers both Apple’s Restrictions feature and HBO NOW’s parental controls.

Apple TV 4 Restrictions

Restrictions for Apple TV 4 offer complete control of content in the Apple ecosystem, including apps, iTunes movies, TV shows and Apple Music. The feature also offers the ability to block access to apps with explicit content using a code. Restrictions can also prevent access to iTunes and App Store purchases.

You can enable Restrictions by clicking on Settings > General > Restrictions. Next, turn Restrictions on by clicking on the Restrictions field. You are prompted to enter a 4 digit Passcode. Enter a Passcode that is easy to remember but difficult for others to guess. Avoid birthdays, social security numbers or any easily guessed Passcode. After entering the Passcode, you are prompted to enter it again for verification. Make sure you remember or write down your Passcode. If you forget it, you will need to reset all settings for your Apple TV. Click on OK to return to the Restrictions menu.

You can change the Passcode by clicking on Change Passcode. You must first enter the current Passcode, and then enter the new Passcode twice. (continue…)

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  1. You don’t deal with how to restrict Movies Recommendations listed by TV or Siri’s viewing history which may be unsuitable for minors. Apple TV doesn’t have any way to edit, hide or delete the offending titles.

    1. Thanks for the information. I’ll look into this and update the article.

      Apple typically doesn’t offer the same features on Apple TV that they do on an iPhone or other device. You can delete suggestion history on an iPhone. On an Apple TV, the solution seems to be turning off Siri, which has obvious consequences.

      One possible solution may be to use multiple accounts on Apple TV. It’s fairly easy to switch accounts. You can log out of one account and log into another, which should have different Siri information behind it. I’m not 100% positive. I’ll test it out when I get a chance.

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