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How To Block Inappropriate Content: 2024 Guide For Parents

Teens and kids are curious about adult content — these tools and steps will help ensure that they can’t easily access it without your permission.

Teens and kids are curious about adult content — these tools and steps will help ensure that they can’t easily access it without your permission.

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      How Can You Protect Your Kids From Adult Content Online? 

      Adult and inappropriate content is seemingly everywhere online — from adult sites to social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and SnapChat. 

      According to the latest research [*]:

      Nearly 75% of teens have been exposed to pornography online — either accidentally or on purpose. 

      Even more worrying is that only less than half of all teens say they’ve spoken to a trusted adult about pornography.

      While kids and teens may be curious about adult content, every parent wants to ensure that their children are not being exposed to potentially harmful content, accidentally or too early.

      In this guide, we’ll explain some of the best methods to help you block inappropriate and explicit content across all devices, browsers, and apps. 

      How To Block Inappropriate and Adult Content: 10 Methods

      1. Install a parental controls app on all of your devices  
      2. Use Apple Screen Time on Macs, iPads, and iPhones
      3. Set up Microsoft Family Safety on Windows devices
      4. Enable Google Family Link, or use Google Play safety settings
      5. Turn on browsing filters, such as Google SafeSearch
      6. Take advantage of age-specific social media settings 
      7. Block adult content on your home router
      8. Ask your ISP about content filters 
      9. Limit what content your child can consume on YouTube
      10. Enable built-in family safety features in gaming consoles

      Inappropriate content can take on many forms — from adult websites to explicit language on social media posts, YouTube videos, and comments on chat and gaming platforms. Thankfully, there are many ways you can block adult content on smartphones, laptops, and tablets.

      Below, we’ll explore 10 actionable ways parents can block inappropriate content on their children’s devices:

      1. Install a parental controls app on all of your devices

      Parental controls allow you to block access to specific websites or apps on your child’s device. But while most devices and platforms include some form of built-in parental controls, managing and monitoring all of these separately is nearly impossible. 

      The best parental control apps let you set up device-wide content settings. You can apply filters for inappropriate content, automatically block adult websites and videos, and set screen time limits that turn off the internet at specific times of the day. 

      Here are some of the best parental control apps of 2024:

      • Aura is an all-in-one family safety app that combines parental controls with digital security tools, 24/7 support, and award-winning identity, fraud, and scam protection for your entire family. Aura allows parents to limit adult content through filters and screen time limits. You can even “Pause the internet” on your child’s iPhone, Android phone, or other mobile device with one touch on the app. You can try Aura free for 14 days to see if it’s right for your family. 
      • Bark is a leader in parental controls that include screen time limits, location tracking, and a kid's phone with built-in protection features. While it lacks Aura’s comprehensive protection, Bark is a decent option for basic protection. 
      • Qustodio lets parents monitor their kids' online activities and get notifications about any threats. You can block inappropriate websites, games, and apps, set device time limits, and track their calls and messages.
      🤔 Why should you use parental controls to block inappropriate content? Parental control apps provide a powerful way to control how your kids use their devices — but they cost more than other options. Try Aura free for 14 days and see if it’s right for your family.

      2. Use Apple Screen Time on Macs, iPads, and iPhones

      If your child uses an iPhone or iPad, Apple's Screen Time feature lets you know how much time you and your kids spend on your devices. This built-in software works on all modern iOS devices, giving parents and kids the analytics and insights to make informed decisions about how to use their devices.

      Apple Screen Time settings with options to restrict what kind of content a 7-year old child can access
      Setting up Screen Time on your child’s device can help restrict adult content — but it’s not foolproof. Source: The Verge.

      You can also use Screen Time to block internet access on your child’s iPad or iPhone, or block certain apps at specific times — for example, if you want to make sure device usage doesn’t interfere with your kid’s homework or sleeping patterns. 

      How to set up content filters on Apple Screen Time:

      First, turn on Screen Time: If you use Family Sharing to manage a child’s account, go to Settings > Screen Time on your Apple device.

      Next, edit your child’s permissions: Scroll down, and select your child's name under Family. Then, enable Screen Time and tap on Continue. From this menu, you can adjust your child's Downtime, App Limits, and Content & Privacy settings.

      Finally, create a Screen Time passcode: You can set a passcode so that only you can change Screen Time settings and allow more time when app limits expire. 

      • In the settings, tap on Use Screen Time Passcode, and then enter your new passcode.
      • Re-enter the passcode to confirm. 
      • Enter your Apple ID and password. If you forget it later, you can use these details to reset your Screen Time passcode.

      💡Related: The 10 Best Parental Control Apps for iPhones (2024)

      3. Set up Microsoft Family Safety on Windows devices

      For Windows users, Microsoft Family Safety is a security application that helps families manage app usage and screen time. As this app syncs with Android, Xbox, and Windows, it’s possible to establish time limits for applications and games on a wide range of popular devices. 

      Many children — particularly teenagers — try to circumvent parental controls. But Microsoft’s features help parents apply stricter controls that are harder to evade.

      How to set up Microsoft Family Safety:

      • Download the app: You can get the Microsoft Family Safety app from your mobile device's Google Play Store or the App Store.
      • Create a family group: On a Windows device, go to Settings > Accounts > Family. Select Open Family App and sign in with your Microsoft account.
      • Add your family members: Select List from the Your Family view, and then scroll down to Add a family member. Enter each family member's email address, and then select their role in the group — Member or Organizer. When you’re done, select Invite to send an email invitation to your family member. After your family members join, you can manage the settings in the app to change screen time limits, content filters, and location tracking. 

      4. Enable Google Family Link, or use Google Play safety settings

      Google Family Link offers a free way to apply parental controls on Android devices. Parents can manage app access through digital rules, including specific screen time settings and a device bedtime. These boundaries help children develop healthy habits around online privacy and safety.

      How to set up Google Family Link:

      • Download the app: You can download the free Family Link app on your Android or iPhone. 
      • Link the accounts: If your child already has a Google account, Family Link will automatically go through linking both accounts. If not, you’ll need to create a new Google account for your child before you use the app.
      • Set rules: After you link your account with your child’s, you can set the ground rules for digital activity. Children can sign in to their own devices by using the new Family Link account.

      💡 Related: How To Block Apps on iPhones

      5. Turn on browsing filters, such as Google SafeSearch

      SafeSearch is a security feature in search engines designed to manage and filter out explicit and inappropriate content from search results. This feature is built into popular search websites, including Google Search, Google Images, Bing, YouTube, and Google Maps. 

      The goal is to create a safer, more family-friendly online experience — especially for children or in any environment where you want to avoid violence, nudity, graphic images, or other potentially offensive content.

      Here are steps to enable SafeSearch:

      On desktop: 

      • Log in to your Google Account, and then go to the Google homepage. 
      • In the bottom-right corner, go to Settings > Search settings
      • Then, under SafeSearch filters, click on the box next to Turn on SafeSearch
      • Finally, select Save to confirm your changes.

      On mobile: 

      • Open your mobile browser, and go to SafeSearch settings
      • Switch on the Explicit results filter by switching the toggle to the "on" position.
      • Then, tap on Back to go to the Google homepage.

      6. Take advantage of age-specific social media settings 

      In 2019, TikTok released TikTok for Younger Users, a limited app experience for TikTok users under the age of 13. Compared to the full version of the video content app, this age-gated environment has tighter content restrictions and prevents interactions such as commenting, direct messaging, and maintaining followers.

      Here’s what to do:

      • Know the laws (but accept that not everyone follows them). The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) prohibits websites from collecting information on children younger than 13 years old without parental permission [*]. However, this federal law doesn’t deter everyone — many unscrupulous data brokers, scammers, and online predators use the anonymity of social media and gaming platforms to target minors. 
      • Make sure your child's profile is set up correctly for their age. For example, TikTok does not allow direct messaging for TikTok users under the age of 16. Users aged 16 or 17 have the direct message feature set to No one by default. 
      • Create in-house rules depending on your child’s age: Your 7-year-old and 17-year-old have very different uses for the internet. You want to give each child the chance to benefit from age-appropriate freedoms and education without exposing them to harmful web content. In the absence of specific restrictions on the platforms they use, consider a family agreement about how they can use each social media platform. You can set up these rules differently depending on your child's age. 

      💡 Related: TikTok Parental Controls: An Updated Guide for Parents

      7. Block adult content on your home router

      Even if your kids aren’t actively searching for adult content, there is a constant risk they could encounter it if restrictions aren’t in place. You can block adult content across all devices in your home by adjusting your parental controls via your home Wi-Fi.

      Here’s what to do:

      • Access Parental Controls in your router’s settings. You can find your router's IP address on the back of the unit (it will look something like: ""). Open a web browser, and enter the address in the URL bar; then log in with your router's username and password. Check the manual if you can't find this information on the router itself. Once logged in, look for a section like “Parental Controls” or “Website Filtering.” 
      • Block specific sites and apps. You can block websites by adding specific URLs to your router’s blocked site list. You can also upload lists of websites that you don’t want your children to use (e.g., adult websites, gambling sites, etc.). When finished, select Save to confirm your settings. You may need to restart the router before the changes take effect.
      • Disable the wireless remote administrator feature. Hackers or even tech-savvy kids can access your router settings from outside the home network. By turning off this function, you can stop unauthorized internet access or potential security breaches.
      🚫 Block adult content and protect your family from online threats. Aura's all-in-one family safety app protects you and your kids from inappropriate content and online threats, including scammers and predators. Try Aura free for 14 days and keep your family safe online.

      8. Ask your ISP about content filters 

      Your internet service provider (ISP) may offer content filters to help you control how people use the internet in your home. ISP-level content filters are common in government offices, schools, and some workplaces. 

      With these restrictions in place, it’s easier for parents to manage what their kids are doing online. You can get peace of mind by knowing that there’s much less of a chance that your child will be exposed to anything inappropriate or harmful. 

      Here’s what to do:

      • Contact your ISP. You can reach out to customer support or visit the website to see if your provider offers content filtering services. Ask about the types of content filters they offer and how they work.
      • Look for key features. Ideally, you want an option that lets you configure allow lists, blocklists, screen time limits, and category controls. If your provider doesn’t offer all the features you need, it may not be a great long-term solution.
      • Consider the whole family. Parental controls should be easy to customize and switch on and off. Ensure ISP-level filters are a good fit for your entire family without restricting the internet too much for yourself or older family members.

      9. Limit what content your child can consume on YouTube

      84% of kids say YouTube is the main way they consume video content — and 40% watch two hours daily on the platform [*]. Although YouTube has restricted modes, many children are accessing adult content regularly. Without any limitations, your child could see violence, drug use, or scenes of a sexual nature. 

      Here’s what to do:

      • Enable Restricted Mode. Open the YouTube app on your kid’s mobile device or computer, and then tap on the profile picture. Go to Settings > General, and toggle or switch on the Restricted Mode. 
      • Use Supervised Accounts. Children under the age of 13 cannot manage their own accounts, so you’ll need to create a Google account for your child and then connect it to a supervising account. You must complete the connection within 14 days to prevent deactivation.
      • Link your account. To connect as the supervising account, select My parent is here, and then log in with your Google account. Once linked, you can set the parental controls for apps like YouTube, Google Play, Chrome, and other Android mobile apps.

      💡 Related: YouTube Parental Controls: 4 Ways To (Easily) Get Started

      10. Enable built-in family safety features in gaming consoles

      Predators target children on gaming platforms, luring these vulnerable users into chat rooms or third-party messaging apps where they can exploit them in secret. It’s important to stay alert to threats such as hackers, scammers, cyberbullies, and online predators. 

      Here’s what to do:

      • Explore the built-in safety features. Most gaming consoles contain built-in parental control features. For example, you can download the Xbox Family Settings app, or go to Account Management > Family Management on a PlayStation 5. 
      • Monitor friend lists and chat rooms. The biggest risks for kids on gaming platforms come from strangers. You can prevent cyberbullies or predators from sending abusive content by blocking chat features and disabling the ability for others to add your child as a friend.
      • Restrict spending access. Many games include in-app purchases, which your child could buy if your credit card is linked to the console profile. Make sure your kids don’t rack up bills by setting a passcode for spending.

      💡 Related: What Are the Risks of Online Gaming? (2024 Guide For Parents)

      How To Talk To Your Kids and Teens About Inappropriate Content

      Banner for Aura’s Digital Talk website with text saying “ It’s Time to Have The Digital Talk”
      Aura’s “The Digital Talk” resource center can help you navigate the best ways to talk about online safety with your kids — at every age.

      Unfortunately, you can't guarantee that your children won't see inappropriate content online — accidentally or intentionally. Rather than only trying to prevent these experiences, you can focus on preparing your children for the inevitable. 

      Scammers regularly target kids to get their account passwords or steal their identities, while cyberbullying happens on social media and gaming platforms. But if you have an open dialogue with your children about the risks of the internet, you can teach them about internet safety.

      Here are some key ideas to cover when you’re having “the digital talk” with your family:

      • Set expectations early. It’s important to establish ground rules for internet use before your children go online. Having guidelines from the start makes it easier to prevent disputes later.
      • Talk about the risks. Rather than waiting for something to happen, proactively discuss subjects including violent content, abusive language, scams, and cyberbullying. By getting your kids to read about fraud, online predators, and social media scams, they can spot warning signs and stay safe when you’re not around.
      • Create a family agreement. You can sit down with kids and agree on rules about what, how, and when they can use the internet. With clear protocols about how to handle and report various scenarios, your kids will know what to do if they stumble upon suspicious content or end up in a chat with unfriendly people.
      • Educate your kids about trusted apps. When talking about scams, make sure to cover the topics of hacking and malware. Your children must know how to avoid phishing emails and bogus websites so that they don’t unwittingly install a virus or give away sensitive data.
      • Focus on online privacy. Keeping personal information private is critical, so children must know how to use the privacy restrictions on their apps and platforms. Most importantly, every child should understand why they must protect personal information, such as their home address, date of birth, and phone number.
      • Discuss sharing photos. You can use real-life instances of cyberbullying to highlight the risks of posting personal photos online. This lesson is especially important for teenagers, who tend to overshare photos on social media.
      • Teach kids about responsible online behavior. It’s important to ensure that your kid doesn’t become a bully. Encourage children to be kind to others on the internet and to avoid joining in if they witness others harassing someone online.
      • Play games together. By playing video games with your children, you can understand how the games work and spot potential risks. Co-play also gives you a chance to bond with your kids, gaining their trust as you model appropriate responses and discuss scenarios like cyberbullying or abusive chat messages. 
      • Have regular check-ins. Normalizing conversations about online risks can help children feel more comfortable coming to you for help. With an open dialogue, you can quickly pick up on any issues and react sooner if there's a threat.
      • Provide a safe space. Many children keep problems secret from their parents because they fear they might get in trouble. Let your children know that you want to protect them, so they can talk openly about their internet use without being judged or punished.

      💡 Related: How To See What My Kid Is Doing Online

      The Bottom Line: Make the Internet Safer for Your Family

      Many kids in the United States use the internet for over eight hours per day — often when their parents or guardians are not around [*]. With cyberbullies, scammers, and online predators ever-present, it’s no surprise that more kids are exposed to adult content earlier and more often. 

      Knowing how to block inappropriate content helps you combat threats. But whether you set router-level restrictions or rely on built-in parental controls on apps and platforms, remember that you must also talk to your family about online threats and adult content.  

      For optimal protection and peace of mind, Aura is the best family safety solution. 

      Aura’s award-winning identity theft protection platform includes powerful parental controls, as well as full-family digital safety features such as a military-grade virtual private network (VPN), antivirus software, and ad and website blockers. 

      If the worst should happen, Aura’s dedicated U.S.-based support team is available 24/7, and every family plan provides up to $5 million in identity theft insurance coverage. 

      Block adult content and keep your family safe online. Try Aura free for 14 days.
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