banner ad

How to Have a Safe iPod Touch and a Happy Kid

| November 19, 2010 | Comments (45)
Print Friendly

Gift-app_300

To learn about the most recent concerns regarding the iPod Touch, in addition to the information below, please read this March 2013 article.

——————————————————-

The number one thing that my 10-year-old son wanted for his birthday this year was an iPod Touch. My husband and I haven’t allowed him a cell phone just yet, and won’t for quite a while, so we figured this would be a good way to see how responsible he’d be with the technology.

We also wanted him to understand that there were rules he had to follow and consequences if he didn’t.  These rules were clearly spelled out to him, so we went ahead and bought him one. But prior to putting it in his hands, I wanted to make sure that I installed and set up all of the necessary safety features that would allow him to have a safe, but fun experience.

Though I’ve posted guides on how to set the parental controls on an iPhone—and granted most of the steps are the same with the Touch—I wanted to take a more in-depth approach as I’ve had several parents request the same walkthrough for their child’s iPod Touch.

I have to say, I’ve always been impressed with how easy Apple has made it for parents to set the safety features; however, the one thing that’s always worried me is the App Store. After digging through it a bit, I found that some of the top selling (and free, mind you) apps were adult oriented. These apps didn’t consist of porn, per se, but they were promiscuous enough for me to throw up a red flag and wonder how they got in the App Store to begin with!

Another one of my main concerns is YouTube—both the app and on the mobile web browser. I didn’t want to deprive my son entirely of having Internet access on his Touch, but I wanted to make sure that there was a content filter in place and that I could enable YouTube’s Safety Mode through the iPod’s web browser. All of that said, here’s a step-by-step guide to help you with the set up:

Just about everything safety related is managed from the Settings App. Tap it and select the menu called “General”.

1
From the General menu, scroll down to the option called “Restrictions”. When you click this you’ll be asked for a password. Create one, don’t share it, and don’t forget it.

  2      3

Now you’ll be at the Restrictions page. This is essentially your Parental Safety Controls Dashboard. Here you can do several things, including:

  • Remove/restore certain apps from the device.
  • Set restrictions for the App Store.
  • Set content restrictions for videos and music.

4 5

The first thing I did was switch Location to “off”. No one needs to know where your child is in real life! Learn more about geotagging on mobile devices, here.

Next, I disabled Safari since it doesn’t allow you to set content filters. If you want to allow your child to access the Internet, download one of these browsers. I definitely have my favorite, but here are a few to choose from:

With the new browser installed, I went ahead and turned off the YouTube app since there’s no way to set a filter there, forcing me to rely on the web version of YouTube via the mobile browser.

And finally, I turned off the ability for my son to install apps without my permission. Turning this off removes the App Store button from the Touch entirely. From there I went ahead and set the content restrictions for movies, TV shows and music.

7  9 IMG_0413

Note that setting the Explicit setting to OFF makes it so any explicit songs that your child may already have on their iPod become unavailable. It also disables all explicit purchases in the iTunes Store. 

There’s also the option to set the age restrictions for downloading apps from the App Store, but I found this to be somewhat useless as it still allows your child to see the adult apps and read the description. They are only prevented from downloading it to their iPod.

10

The last thing I did was go to the Safari app and set up YouTube Safety Mode.To do this, just go to Youtube.com. You’ll automatically be presented with the mobile version of the site, so just scroll all the way down to the bottom and select the link called “Desktop”. This will change the page to the web version of the site. From here just follow these directions to set up and lock YouTube safety mode. This will prevent your child from coming across any risky videos.

Finally, I loaded a bunch of music, games and even a few episodes from one of his favorite shows: Drake and Josh. It was so nice to give him something and show him all the things he could do, versus give him a gift and say “here’s what you can’t do!”

He pronounced his 10th Birthday, “The best birthday I’ve ever had. Thank you.” Now….I don’t have to worry and neither should you.

More resources: 

iPad Parental Controls Guide

iPhone Parental Controls Guide

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: Mobile Safety, Safety, Tutorials

Comments (45)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. sandra says:

    Most of the parents commenting here have teens, I have a 7 year old and she wants an ipod touch I’m not sure if its suitable for her age?

  2. Cm says:

    We have tried the K9 and the Ranger and can’t get either to work on my 10 year old’s ipod. The folks from Ranger and K9 have not been able to help. We can still bring up any explicit content on his ipod.

    Ranger is not working at all. K9 blocks BUT then down at the bottom of the page it asks the child if they would like to search in google instead…. if they click this they can still get to anything on the planet…. a real design flaw, no? K9 says even if they click that google link it will still block but guess what it does not… we have tried.

    I am so frustrated and desperate and there seems to be no way to keep my child safe. If you can offer any help I would greatly appreciate it

  3. Sparkles says:

    Hi guys, I just wanted to say, I’m a teen and I SET MY OWN RESTRICTIONS because I don’t like explicit things. Just wanted to say that Apple lets you do this is great.

    • Mary Kay says:

      Sparkles, you are a smart teen. If you have younger siblings or cousins, in addition to your good friends, I hope you encourage them to do the same. That’s fantastic.

  4. Barb says:

    I have a question about setting up the safety version for YouTube: You said at the beginning that you turned OFF Safari, but then near the bottom of the article you said: “The last thing I did was go to the Safari app and set up YouTube Safety Mode.” Did you turn Safari back on so the iPod Touch could use it to access YouTube? Or did you open whatever other safe browser you had installed and use the safe browser to set up YouTube in safety mode?

    Also, someone said that the K9 browser won’t even allow you to go onto YouTube. Would you have a recommendation for which browser you would use for an iPod Touch in the hands of an 11 (almost 12) year old? My daughter is begging to have access to YouTube like “all her friends” do, and this safety sounds like the answer, but I want to make sure I have it set up correctly! Thanks much for the information! :-)

    • caroline says:

      Hi I have the EXACT same questions as Barb above and look forward to a reply soon so that I can make my 10 year old son’s ipod touch safe without being overrestrictive.
      Thanks for all the useful information Mary!

      • Mary Kay says:

        Hi Caroline, I just replied to Barb. Please see my response and let me know if you have any other questions. I hope this answers your question!

    • Mary Kay says:

      Hi Barb,

      Yes, sorry for the confusion. Regardless of which browser you go with, you should make an attempt at enabling YouTube Safety Mode by following the steps that I mention in this article. That being said, however, if you want to get rid of Safari altogether, then I recommend going with something like the AVG Family Safety Browser, or if you want more control over the content your child can access, you might want to consider an app like Ranger Browser.

      • bill says:

        how can i get a youtube shortcut on the home screen for avg browser please? The shortcut created with safari does not work when safari is disabled.

  5. Amy says:

    Thank you so much for the information you gathered in your article- it was EXTREMELY helpful to this mom of a 9 year old with a new iPod Touch. One related issue I’m still uncertain of (and if you have addressed this elsewhere, forgive me for the repetition!), is it best to have my daughter use my email address on her iPod or should I set up her own? Big thanks in advance for any guidance you can give!

    • Mary Kay says:

      Hi Amy:

      You are very welcome, and we kindly ask two things of you:

      1. Please share our site for other parents.
      2. Please check out Yoursphere.com for your daughter, and share our site with other parents who are concerned about making sure their children have a healthy online experience and definitely don’t want their children signing up for networks like Instagram or Facebook. (Read more about those here.)

      To answer your question re. email, you should use your email address. Federal law actually requires that your daughter must be 13 to have her own email. Plus sites like Yoursphere do not even ask for your child’s email. We only ask for parents when children are 12 and under. Plus….know that upwards of 50%+ of porn is delivered via email, so law-abiding sites like Yoursphere honestly won’t ask you to provide your child’s.

      Thank you for taking the time to write. You made our editorial team smile.

      Hugs to you,
      Mary Kay

      • Amy says:

        Thank you so, so much. I was completely unaware that 13 was the minimum age for having an email address. And, upon further questioning, discovered that my 9 year old was interested in Instagram. I use it, but reading the Yoursphere article and related comments totally opened my eyes to another side of it. The internet is a scary world for a parent! Oh, and I will absolutely be sharing this site!

      • LF says:

        Regarding kids email and being able to monitor…. I have set up email accounts for my kids (they are 12). But, I also set up their email accounts to be viewed on my iPhone. That way, I (can) see any emails they receive or send – and I see when they come in. I don’t necessarily read all of them, but I can if I feel the need. An added bonus is that I’ve been able to know then when my children have tried to reset their passwords for various apps. It’s been a good way to give them some independence/privacy to correspond with out-of-town family, yet gives me a way to monitor who they are corresponding with. It’s opened the door for several meaningful conversations about online safety.

      • Denise says:

        I found out if you have gmail, you can do a “plus email”. No set up required, and it comes to your email! Example: your email is myemail@gmail.com you can make theirs myemail+child1@gmail.com.

        Our iPod touches we got for our boys this past Christmas (4th gen) have iMessage on it. I used these “plus emails” to set up their own texting capabilities that are additional email addresses added to your main Apple id account. (I just had to verify them via email link with my Aple ID when I added them.) I then added myself, my husband, grandma, and teenage aunts and uncles to their contact list (we don’t live by family). Then in notifications under iMessage, I chose that they can only receive messages from those in their contact list.

        I felt I safeguarded them from spammers and ads on free texting apps, and have kept it in only their contact list. I don’t think I will add people they talk to everyday (yet, until they are older). However I love that they can contact family when they want! Oh and their iPods only leave the house when we travel or doctors appointments so far.

        Thanks for your safety suggestions! I thought I set ours up well before they got them, but didn’t realize the issues with safari and YouTube. Thanks for your article!

      • Dana says:

        I had no idea that Federal Law doesn’t allow for children under 13 to have e-mail addresses. I am curious as to why they are provided them at my daughter’s middle school. The only thing I can figure is that it is an internal e-mail server and not something like a g-mail or other?

  6. sy says:

    we downloaded Bike Race for Ipod touch then realized this has a Multi Player option. The game allows the player to choose Single or Multi Player. We’d like to allow only Single Player. Is there anything we can do? I’ve removed location services from our settings. Twitter & Facebook are not activated, yet my son can connect to a player through Facebook. How is this possible? Is this another back door?

    • Mary Kay says:

      Hi Sy,

      The restrictions within an app (game or not) are separate from the restrictions on the device itself. Unfortunately, there is no way to filter out games that have multiplayer capabilities, so you’ll need to manually check the game’s description page to make sure multiplayer isn’t offered.

      Best,
      Mary Kay

  7. RENE says:

    Thanks for the info. I loaded avg family browser but it still allows You Tube. How can I disable youtube or make it ‘safe’ for a 10yr old.

    • Mary Kay says:

      Hi Rene – First you should remove the YouTube app from your child’s iPod (hold down the icon and click the little x). Then, since there is no straightforward, easy way to enable YouTube Safety Mode on a mobile device, you’ll have to enable Safety Mode through the web-version of YouTube on the AVG web browser app. It’s a hassle, and it’s not foolproof, but it’s what I recommend to parents who ask this question. – Mary Kay

  8. Alexis says:

    Ah. Well I don’t have a iPod so this doesn’t apply to me.

  9. Brandy says:

    I disabled Safari completely from both of my children’s ipod’s and installed K9 Web Protection Browser. I am happy with it, and it blocks YouTube and ignores any word in a search that is inappropriate. “naked woman” returns results for “woman” I am sure there are loopholes, but I monitor what they do, and feel comfortable they are not going to accidentally spell something wrong and end up looking at things I didn’t know existed until I was 22.

  10. kschoon@ldi-cn.com says:

    I did all this to my sons Itouch but then found out if he plugs it in and does a “restore” it takes off all the restrictions I put on. Is there someway to make sure this does not happen, or was there something I missed?

  11. Happy Mama says:

    My almost 10-year-old daughter also wants an iPod touch for her upcoming birthday (this is a happy compromise, since I, too, am at least a couple of years away from allowing a cell phone), but I’ve become increasingly concerned about allowing her unrestricted access to “cyberland.” I own an iPhone myself, so I was aware of the restriction settings, but it’s nice to be walked through the process step by step and learn a little more about each feature. I was thrilled to learn about the AVG filter and You Tube safety mode — I had no idea such things existed! Anyway, I can’t thank you enough. I can now go ahead and make my little girl’s day without worrying that I’ve put her innocence at risk. :)

  12. amanda says:

    i really want to give my kid an ipod touch but i don’t want her to use the wireless, so she said ok bu then i said why use it when you throw away most of the apps + its quite xpensiev if you can’t use mostly… everything. how do i get it for a cheaper price???? help!

  13. tg says:

    Very helpful. Thank you.

  14. Mary Kay says:

    Thank you for the note, proud Papa! Merry Christmas.
    And when your child wants to social network I’d love to have them check out Yoursphere.com. It’s social networking with the same love, attention, oversight and safety mechanisms you’re utilizing on their new iPod touch.
    Mary Kay

  15. MARY says:

    Mary Kay, You are a Blessing Thank You so much for providing this information!!!!!!!!!!!!! Just bought an IPOD Touch for my 11 year old girl for Christmas, It is 3:30am a few hours away from her opening her ipod.. Many Thanks for helping to keep our children safe. MERRY CHRISTMAS

  16. Mary Kay says:

    Fantastic! You’ve made my day. So glad we were able to help.
    Best,
    Mary Kay

  17. David says:

    great info thanks
    Proud Papa

  18. Chris says:

    Oh man! Thanks! My wife and I just got an iTouch for our oldest daughter for Christmas and we haven’t set it up yet! This is going to be done BEFORE wrapping! thanks again!

  19. Gregg says:

    Done…Thank you!!

  20. Mary Kay says:

    Hi Gregg:
    Thank you for sharing. Very soon you’ll learn where parents can find out about family friend apps. If you subscribe to our news feed, you’ll soon be alerted.
    Best.
    Mary Kay

  21. Gregg says:

    Great article! I like the Parental Controls that Apple has implemented, however it seems that application developers can include a basic Safari browser within their application. Unfortunately, as far as I can see the app’s version of Safari is not impacted by the iPod’s Parental Control settings. As an example, the NASA app has a built-in Twitter feed, clicking on a link to a YouTube video in the Twitter feed opens YouTube in the NASA built-in Safari browser. From there, you are able to search anything (and I do mean anything) as this version seems to have SafeSearch disabled. I’ve contacted NASA and their response was that they are going to “try to implement basic parental controls” in the next major release. The NASA app is rated 4+ and there’s nothing in the description that says anything about YouTube access. Is there any way to find out if an application is “family friendly”?

    • SavvyMama says:

      This is true – poorly made apps (and this is about half the apps I download, I have found) have back doors to the web that work even if you have Safari restricted. I thoroughly test out every app we download to see if there are links to twitter, you tube, “help” pages on the web, ect. that work even if you have web disabled in the restrictions. Google Earth used to have a back door a lot of kids knew about. I don’t know if they ever fixed it. This fact is very important for parents to know about because kids sure do.

  22. Karen says:

    Thank you for posting about this! I bought a Touch a few days ago for my 10 yr old for Christmas, it was the only present she wanted (and I couldn’t resist the gift card offer), but was second-guessing myself and going to return it due to content safety concerns… very glad I googled first! Thanks again :)

  23. Mary Kay says:

    Hi Debbie,
    Glad you found the article so useful! When it comes to keeping an eye on your child’s texting habits, I can recommend two solutions, both of which I’ve written about:
    11 Mobile Parental Controls from AT&T, Verizon, Sprint & T-Mobile
    http://bit.ly/u6LuM3
    An Easy Way to Introduce and Teach Your Children Responsible Texting
    http://bit.ly/v0pbad

  24. debbie hood says:

    Wow, love this link to you that I am so happy to have found! It is like ITouch Safety Controls for Dummies :)
    I was also curious if you had any resources you could recommend when it comes to exercising parental control over the texting app..my 12 yr. old uses this frequently; she & I have a deal that I can peruse her messages at any time & so far she has toed the line. Granted, I suppose she could delete any inappropriate texts before I see them so my main question is…do you know of a way to view her texting activity remotely?

  25. Mary Kay says:

    Please….don’t feel stupid and naive! NONE of us were properly educated. The good news is now is our chance.
    Please share your knowledge and TOGETHER we can make a difference.
    Thank you for writing to me.
    Best.
    Mary Kay

  26. ljk says:

    Thank you for this information. My ten year old encounter some adult information and was distraught. I didn’t even think about securing her ipod and now feel like a terrible mother — stupid and naive.

  27. L says:

    I have heard that the iwonder app is free to download but requires a $30 fee to activate. Is that true?

  28. mary kay says:

    Glad to be of help, Melissa.

  29. Melissa says:

    My son’s friend next door allows him to get on his wireless network when I have no idea he is on it. This turned into a major aruguement as my 12 year old knew he was not suppossed to be on the neighbors internet, nor ours, without prior permission. He refused to give me the IPOD, running to the arms of his dad.. who doesn’t give a darn about if he is on the internet 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Thanks to your post, I can secure the IPOD when I get it for some safety internet searching.

  30. Mary Kay says:

    Thank you, Anne! Again, I’m so glad that you found this information useful.
    I think you’d be interested in this blog post http://internet-safety.yoursphere.com/2010/12/online-safety-tips-for-your-kids-holiday-gifts.html
    I talk about a few concerns with the YouTube app on the iPod Touch. And if you’re as cautious as I am when it comes to these devices, then you’ll definitely find it interesting and useful. =)
    Also, be sure to sign your son up for a free Yoursphere membership, here https://yoursphere.com/register/parent/form
    We’ve made the site as age-appropriate as we’ve made the iPod Touch!

  31. Anne Matthews says:

    I am so grateful for this help. I took my sons itouch a way one year ago. I will implement these changes and re-gift it to him for Christmas this year.
    Thank You! Thank You!!

Leave a Reply




If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a Gravatar.