How to set up parental controls on your digital TV service


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How to set up parental control on Sky

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An informational video from

Read our guides on how to ensure safe TV viewing for your children with Sky, Virgin Media and BT Vision, as well as Freeview and Freesat.

by Rune H. Rasmussen

Most parents want to make sure that their children only watch TV programming deemed suitable to their age group. Thankfully, all major UK digital TV providers offer fairly simple ways to do this. The following guides show you how to set up your decoder box in a way that makes sure that your children only have access to the appropriate channels and programming.

Sky TV

You can set up Sky’s parental controls using your Sky remote control and your PIN number. You can even choose different Parental Control settings for each Sky box in your home, making sure that your children are enjoying safe programmes when watching TV in a separate room.

First and foremost, you need the Viewing Card PIN for your set-top box (note that each box has a separate PIN). On installation, your PIN will automatically be set as the last four digits printed on the back of your Viewing Card. However, Sky recommends that you change this to a number that is easy to remember, but still difficult for your children to guess.

If you need help to find or reset your PIN number, click this link for a simple guide:
Find or reset your Sky viewing card PIN

Setting parental controls
Sky’s enhanced parental controls allow you to select appropriate channels and programming for children to watch – either at all times or only after the watershed at 8pm:

  • Enter the TV Guide using your remote
  • Go to the Settings menu, choose Parental Controls

At this point, several options appear:

Adult: Under this option, you can choose to prohibit access to adult channels by turning ON the Remove Adults Channels setting.

Viewing: You can block age-rated programmes by choosing the appropriate age category for your children. These categories correspond with the categories used for film ratings (U, PG, 12, 15, 18).

Other: Under this options, these settings appear:

  • PIN Entry Before Going Online. Choose ON to require the PIN code to allow access to interactive services.
  • Spending restriction. Restrict services to pay-for services, such as Sky Box Office and Sky Anytime+. You can turn it completely off, or choose to set a limit to the cost before a PIN is needed.

With the Sky+HD box, there are additional settings:

  • PIN on Pre-Watershed Playback. Turn ON to put a stop on pre-watershed programmes.
  • PIN Protect Kept Programmes. Setting this option ON will restrict access to programmes that are stored within your Sky Planner.

Channel: You can restrict access to specific channels by locking them one-by-one. When you select Channel, all channels are listed by number. Highlight the channel you wish to lock, and press the yellow button to lock it at all times, or press the blue button to lock it between 8pm and 6am.

Remember always to press the green button after making a change to save the parental control settings.

Step-by-step video offers an informational video guide on how to set up parental controls on Sky: Just click the play button in the top right column to watch the video.

Virgin Media TV

To set up parental controls on your Virgin Media set-top box you need your remote control and your four-digit PIN number. On installation, the PIN number is set to 1234 by default, and it is recommended that you change it as soon as your box is set up. Remember to make sure that your children don’t find out what the code is.

Here’s how you do it:

V Box, V HD Box or V+ Box

  • Press Home on your remote control
  • Select Settings
  • Choose Parental Controls then enter your current PIN 
  • Select Change PIN

TiVo Box

  • Press Home on your remote control
  • Select Help & Settings
  • Choose Parental Controls then enter your current PIN
  • Select Change PIN

Setting parental controls
Virgin Media TV’s parental controls feature lets you:

Restrict the channels your children can watch: You can lock any channel you choose, which means that anyone who wants to watch it needs to enter a PIN first.

V Box, V HD Box or V+ Box

  • Press Home on your remote control, choose Settings and then choose Locked Channels.
  • Enter your PIN and choose the channels you’d like to lock or unlock by selecting OK.
  • Press Back to save, and you’re done.

TiVo Box

  • Press Home on your TiVo remote and choose Help & Settings.
  • Choose Parental Controls then enter your PIN.
  • Select Lock channels.
  • Highlight the channel you want to lock or unlock.
  • Press OK on your TiVo remote.
  • Go to Use these settings and press .

Choose the age restrictions you want for On Demand services:
There are different levels of restriction based on certificate ratings that correspond with the film rating system. Five different settings are available:

  • Standard (default setting): All programmes rated U are available all day, without PIN access. Programmes that are rated 12 require a PIN before 8pm, programmes rated 15 require a PIN before 9pm, and programmes that carry an 18 rating require a PIN before 10pm.
  • Cert 12: You always need to enter a PIN to watch any content rated 12 or above.
  • Cert 15: You always need to enter a PIN to watch any content rated 15 or 18, and you need a PIN to watch any 12-rated content before 8pm.
  • Cert 18: You always need to enter a PIN to watch any content rated 18, and you need a PIN to watch any 12-rated content before 8pm, and to watch any 15-rated content before 9pm.
  • Maximum: You always need to enter a PIN to purchase or view rated programmes.

The Adult On Demand menu is automatically PIN controlled at all times.
Catch Up TV programmes do not carry a rating, and therefore the normal TV broadcast watershed of 9pm applies.

Hide adult channels from the TV guide: Any adult channels included in your service can be hidden so they won’t appear in the TV listings when your children are watching TV.

V Box, V HD Box or V+ Box

  • Press Home.
  • Select Settings.
  • Select Set Locked Channels.
  • Press the yellow button on your remote control, and you’re done.

TiVo Box

  • Press Home.
  • Select Help & Settings.
  • Select Parental Controls.
  • Select Hide Adult Channels, then select Hide Adult Channels again.

Limit the use of interactive services:
Access to interactive services, such as games, TV competitions and hotlines, or anything else that is chargeable.

V Box, V HD Box or V+ Box

  • Press Home on your remote control, select Settings, then select Parental Control Settings and enter your PIN.
  • From the Parental Control screen you can set up a PIN challenge at point of purchase on Games, Voting, Chat or Mobile. To do this, select ON and then select OK.

TiVo Box

Controlling access to Apps and Games:

  • Go to Help & Settings on the Home screen.
  • Choose Parental Controls, then tap in your PIN.
  • Now, just select Lock Apps & Games.

You’ll see the Apps in a list, and you can mark them as Hidden, Locked or Unlocked:

  • Hidden - no one can access the app and it will not be shown on your TiVo box
  • Locked - you’ll have to enter your Virgin Media PIN before the accessing this app
  • Unlocked - anyone can access this app.

BT Vision TV

The Parental controls for BT Vision is set by using your remote control and your PIN number. The Vision+ box has a default PIN of 1234. The PIN can be changed by pressing the BT Vision button on the remote control, move right to Settings, then down to Parental Controls. Choose Change PIN and then enter a new PIN twice and press Save.

In order to choose the appropriate parental control settings for your children, BT Vision offers the following parental locking system:

BT Vision Ratings: This setting allows you to choose the appropriate rating (NR (no rating), U, PG, 12, 15, 18, 18A), ensuring that if any programme or film is classified at that rating, the viewer will be forced to enter the PIN to watch the content.

  • Press the BT Vision button on your remote control
  • Use the direction buttons on your remote control to highlight the Settings menu. In the drop-down menu, go to Parental Controls and press Select on your remote
  • Enter your PIN number
  • Click the Change button next to BT Vision Ratings, select the appropriate setting and click Save.

When it comes to adult content, all such programming is protected by a separate PIN number, and the adult PIN is only available on request from BT Vision, and an age verification check will be carried out to ensure that the customer is over 18 years old.

Lock channels: You can lock specific channels by entering the Parental controls menu and selecting Lock Channels. A list displaying all channels will appear, and you can simply highlight and lock the channels you deem unsuitable.

BT Vision offers an informational video that explains how to set up parental controls:

Video: How to set up parental controls on BT Vision

They also offer a step-by-step guide, including images:

How can I make sure my children don't watch unsuitable TV?


Freeview also offers parental controls; however, the settings depend on which set-top box you have.

On their website, Freeview states:

“All programmes are broadcast without viewing restrictions. Some digital boxes and TVs have a parental lock included in their specification which will enable you to control what can be viewed. We recommend speaking to your local retailer for more information.”

Read more:

Does Freeview have a parental lock facility?

More information on adult channels


All freesat digital boxes and freesat TVs offer parental controls, but, as with Freeview, the settings depend on your set-up box. Your user manual or your set-top box manufacturer will provide you with more information.

Further information:

Go to freeviews search feature, type in the keywords ‘parental control’, and check out the results. 

Can I put parental controls on my TV service? 

Virgin Media
What are the parental control TV settings? 

BT Vision
What is my PIN for BT Vision? 

Related article on

Tips for parents with regards to digital TV

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