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How to set restrictions on the new Apple TV

Chuck La Tournous | Nov. 4, 2015
Apple provides granular controls for keeping unwanted content off your TV, but inconsistent reach across all media makes it a poor substitute for real time parental control.

Apps: The same again, but using Apple’s App Store ratings.

Siri Explicit Language: Toggles between Show and Hide.

When you use voice commands, Siri displays what she hears on screen. This option obscures certain “adult” language by using the first and last letter of the offending word and filling in the rest with asterisks. For example, if “feather” happened to be one of George Carlin’s “Seven Dirty Words,” (NSFW link) Siri might display it as “f`*****`r.” Be warned, though—act like a potty mouth and you can expect Siri to chide you for your language, whether you’ve chosen to hide your naughty words or not. It’s not a perfect system by any means—your idea of objectionable words may not coincide with Siri’s, and even some of the words on Carlin’s list aren’t obscured. 

Game Center:

  • Multiplayer Games: Toggles between Yes and No.
  • Adding Friends: Toggles between Yes and No. 

Allow Changes: These settings allow users to override the main system settings.

  • AirPlay Settings: Toggles between Allow and Restrict.
  • Location Services: Toggles between Allow and Restrict.

How it works 

If a user—let’s say your kid—never tries to play or buy restricted content, they’ll never know restrictions have been applied, because these settings don’t affect any other aspect of using the Apple TV. Try to purchase something beyond what the restrictions allow, however, and they’ll be prompted for that four-digit passcode—even if you set your iTunes account to never require a password. 

For iTunes content—including apps—this seems to work well. With Movies restrictions set to PG, I had to enter my passcode to watch movies with PG-13 and R ratings that I had purchased from iTunes. I had the same result with purchased music tagged as Explicit when I had restrictions set to Clean and apps I tried to purchase with that option restricted. 

appletv settings restrictions movies

Here’s the trouble: Dealing with other content providers—and even your own content played through Home Sharing. For now at least, ratings restrictions don’t seem to be honored when watching content from other providers like Netflix or network apps. I was able to watch shows with ratings of TV-14 and higher on Netflix, NBC, and ABC’s apps without being prompted for my passcode, despite the fact that I had restricted TV shows to TV-Y. 

Content I had ripped from DVDs was more of a mixed bag. Apple TV seemed to honor ratings on movies I played via Home Sharing, as long as the meta tags had been properly filled out. (I use Meta Z to enter tags and artwork when I rip my own media.) However, I could play ripped TV shows regardless of their rating, even though I had restrictions set to TV-Y. 


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