The Complete Guide to MacBook Parental Controls
MacBooks have a nice suite of parental controls built directly into the Mac operating system (MacOS), rather than relying on something web-based (like with PCs). The functionality allows you to control websites and also who they interact with in case there are relationship concerns (cyberbullying).
[updated January 19, 2020] We believe there are multiple layers that should be in place in order to adequately protect a MacBook:
Layer 1: Guard the location of the MacBook.
Remember, where kids use technology often dictates how they use their technology. We have strong opinions about controlling where kids use their tech. For example, let’s keep all internet-ready devices out of bedrooms, where kids take more risks, and sleep is constantly interrupted.
Related post: The 5 Worst Places for a Kid to be Online
Layer 2: Set up clean DNS on your home’s WiFi (router).
You are responsible for every digital click on your home’s network, and so be sure to control the router. Popular options for parents are:
- Circle with Disney – by far the most popular parental control device on the market for controlling devices at the router (and also with Circle Go on devices).
- CleanBrowsing – use CleanBrowsing’s clean DNS and block most known porn domains (FREE). Read all about it in our extremely popular DNS blog post.
- OpenDNS – similar to CleanBrowsing, but with enough loopholes that we really prefer CleanBrowsing.
We’ve also recently found OpenDNS to be glitchy with our internet service, which is why we’ve moved to CleanBrowsing’s clean DNS for every device in our home, including the router.
Related post: How to Block Porn on Any Device. For Free!
Layer 3: Setup Parental Controls on the MacBook.
Click: Apple menu -> System Preferences -> Parental Controls.
Enter your Admin credentials for the computer,. For an existing user, click “Enable Parental Controls,” and then set up the controls. Add new users by clicking “Add” at the bottom of the user list and entering a name and password for each new account.
For each account, you can create a custom profile to control App Store downloads, web browser restrictions, general time limits, among others.
Layer 4: Setup CleanBrowsing on the MacBook.
Yes, we’ve already set up CleanBrowsing on the home’s wireless network. But what about when the MacBook isn’t attached to the home network? Never fear: CleanBrowsing has great instructions for setting up its service on a MacBook.
Related CleanBrowsing article: How to set clean DNS on a Mac computer
Once you’ve followed those steps, then follow these screen shots in order to lock the changes into the Mac:
Are any other parental controls needed on the MacBook?
It depends on your situation.
Mobicip is a really strong filter and has a whole suite of controls that mirror Family Link. Some parents like having all devices using the same service, so in a mixed Apple, Android, Chromebook family, then Mobicip might work. It’s very reasonably priced ($49.99/year for the whole family and it’s our overall #1 parental control solution on iPhones, too).
Bark is another tool that can be connected to a kid’s email account and other parts of the device in order to identify troubling words and phrases. The service successfully identifies instances of self-harm, violence, explicit conduct -> it’s awesome. PYE has over a 1,000 families using Bark right now and it’s reasonably priced ($99/year for the whole family).
For teens (14+), you might want to graduate from Family Link to something more mature like Covenant Eyes, which uses the power of Accountability to change lives.
*There are affiliate links throughout this post because we’ve tested and trust a small list of parental control solutions. Our work saves you time! If you decide that you agree with us, then we may earn a small commission, which does nothing to your price. Enjoy!