If you’re considering buying your child an iOS device or have already given them one, consider enabling some, or all, of the Parental Controls so that your child can have an age-appropriate experience. The iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch are all amazing devices, yet they don’t come out-of-the box family-friendly ready, which they need to be when kids and teens are using them. This step-by-step guide can be applied to any device running iOS 7.0.6 or newer.
First, click on the Settings icon on the homescreen of the iOS device. Once you are in the settings menu, scroll down until you see the option for Restrictions. After opening the Restrictions menu, select “Enable Restrictions” at the top of the screen and enter the 4-digit code that will protect the parental control settings (DO NOT share the code with your child). After you enter the code of your choosing, you will able to access the Restrictions settings on the device.
The first set of restrictions pertains to what native apps can be opened and the permissions associated with the installing and deleting of apps. After downloaded the apps and browsers we’ve recommended below, we suggest that you turn off installing apps, deleting apps, in app purchases and Safari.
This does not mean that your children won’t be able to install more apps or delete others. It just means you’ll get to spend a moment with your child discussing the apps they’d like to use while researching if the apps are meant for them. A great place to do research is: www.commonsensemedia.org
Scroll down and you’ll see the settings for “Allowed Content” which pertains to the ratings settings for music and apps, as well as the ratings of media content that can be played or downloaded on the device. For example, selecting the media type “Movies” allows you to establish the ratings of the movies that can be accessed on the device. Under “Websites” there are a variety of options including allowing only specific websites to be viewed. To add a website that is not in the default list, select “Add a Website” at the bottom of the list.
I recommend restrictions set for all content, based on the age of your child, and reflective of the type of content you allow them to view when an iOS device isn’t involved.
Parents: This is very important to know. If you set the “allowed apps” rating to 12+, apps that your child who is 12 or younger and not legally able to use, nor do we recommend, (such as Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, Ask, Instagram) WILL be able to be downloaded anyway. It seems to be a loophole in the Apple app system. (Many of these apps have an app store rating of 4+, but they aren’t meant for kids or young teens and legally the app providers terms of service say: you may not join if you aren’t 13 or older).
That pertains to the importance of turning off the ability to add apps. You should be involved in that decision and have a discussion with your child.
While I was initially excited that websites could be restricted via Safari by limiting adult content, Safari blocks sites that my son enjoys such as ESPN, and a number of technology and parenting sites that I feel are perfectly appropriate.
I find that it’s just easier to install a filtered browser such as AVG’s. Your browsing is still through Google, but inappropriate content is blocked.
After you’ve configured your “Allowed Content,” scroll down until you come to the “Privacy” options. This allows you to prevent changes to any of the settings listed and to prevent the permissions of those applications.
Anything that provides the exact physical location or geotracking of your child should be turned off. So, that means: Camera, Facebook and Twitter (for older teens) OFF. It’s OK to leave on maps, weather, compass, or CNN for example. Tools that push information TO your device versus share OUT your child’s location.
Go to “Contacts” and check “Don’t Allow Changes.” This will prevent apps from accessing your contacts. Then under “Game Center,” turn off multiplayer games and adding friends. Some games that you may approve of for your child may have a multiplayer option including chat capability. Turning off multiplayer games should allow your child to play games without you worrying that they’re talking to strangers online.
Now that you’ve safety-enabled their device to help provide an age-appropriate experience, add the apps, games, music and educational content you’d like your child to experience.
When browsing the app store, remember to check the terms of service to determine if your child is the right age. Many apps require children to be 13 years or above to use them. Apps like Yoursphere don’t have such a requirement because we involve the parent in the process when a child is 12 years of age or younger.
So start with the Yoursphere app for a social media experience created just for them.
For music, depending on their age, there is the Radio Disney app and Pandora.
Educational games: There are plenty! We recommend reviewing https://www.commonsensemedia.org/learning-ratings.
Well that should just about cover it. Have you had any problems with parental controls in iOS 7? Let us know in the comments or contact me on twitter at @MaryKayHoal.
Yoursphere is now available for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch! Download it now!