How to Restrict iMessage

[Updated December 2012]

iMessage logo

You CAN restrict iMessage

Contrary to popular belief and contrary to my earlier version of this article, you CAN restrict iMessage on an iPod touch or iPad.  I did not find this documented on the Apple web site, or anywhere else on the internet.  I discovered this by accident after the most recent update to iOS 6.

Setting parental controls for iMessage is a 2-step process:

  1. Disable iMessage (Turn it off).
  2. Lock the ability to change account settings.  This is done under Restrictions settings. By doing this, your child cannot turn iMessage back on.  Only those with the Restrictions password (mom or dad) can do so.

Note that you will need iOS version 6 and possibly the updated iOS 6.0.1 for this to work on your child’s iPod touch or iPad.  You can check what version you have by going to SettingsGeneralAbout.

Turn Off iMessage

1. Go to SettingsMessages.

Messages icon circled in Settings

2. Turn iMessage off.

iMessage is turned off

Lock Ability to Change Account Settings in Restrictions

1. Go back to Settings and scroll up to Restrictions.

Restrictions under General Settings

If you’ve already set up restrictions, you’ll be prompted for the passcode.  If not, choose Enable Restrictions and enter a pass code.  Be sure to use a 4-digit passcode that you will remember and your kids will not guess.

2. Scroll down to Allow Changes: and click Accounts.

Set restrictions for Accounts under Allow Changes

3. Click Don’t Allow Changes.

Don't Allow Changes selected under Accounts

Confirm that iMessage is not allowed

Now navigate back to the Home screen.  You will still see the icon for Messages (on my daughter’s iPod it is down at the bottom).  When your offspring attempts to get in to the Messages app, they’ll see a warning.

iMessage on Home screen  Account Restriction - This iPod touch is restricted from creating iMessage accounts.


What happens if someone tries to iMessage my child?

When their iMessage is turned off, a message sent to them will not go through.

Why would I want to restrict iMessage?

This all depends on your reasons for giving your child an iDevice in the first place.  If the main intent is to listen to music and play games, or if your child is very young,  you may want to restrict messaging. If that’s the case you may also want to restrict installing apps, or allowing apps over a certain age rating.  Keep in mind that there are other messaging and chatting apps available on the App store.

I find it handy for my daughter to have iMessage.  We use it to communicate when I’m at work.  She only has it available when on Wi-Fi, such as at home.  Since she doesn’t have a cell phone (yet) this is convenient for us.  She chats with friends who have iPods (which is a growing number).  I review her messages on occasion, with her knowledge.  It has led to a few good conversations on what is okay to share and what isn’t, and how to handle some of the pre-teen drama that comes up from time to time.

So that’s the scoop.  You can disable iMessage on the iPod touch or iPad by preventing account changes.



About Jean

Hi! I'm a webmaster, technology educator and creator of Be Web Smart. I hope you found this article useful. If you are new here, you might like to sign up for e-mail updates, view Links and Resources on similar topics, and subscribe to the RSS feed.