How To Have a Safe iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad
If you’re considering buying your child any one of these iOS devices this Christmas season, be sure you enable the Parental Controls that are built in. These great products are not only entertainment and educational tools, but they’re mini computers in your child’s hand.
If you placed content filters or antivirus software on your home laptop or desktop, then activating the parental controls is doing the same thing. Just as you were able to ensure your child didn’t stumble upon content they shouldn’t on the home computer, by taking these steps, you can ensure your child or teen will have an age-appropriate experience on their iOS device, as well. The iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch are all gifts your child will love, yet they don’t come out-of-the box family-friendly ready. So, before they are gifted to your child, follow this easy step-by-step guide to make sure their new iOS 8 device is family-friendly ready.
To start, click on the Settings icon on the homescreen of the 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 a 4-digit code of your choosing that will protect the parental control settings (DO NOT share the code with your child). After you enter the code, 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 downloading 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 need to first review the apps they want then log in to your itunes account before they download them. A great place to research apps 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 such as 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.fm, or 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 the app provider’s terms of service say: you may not join if you aren’t 13 or older.) Children 12 and younger are not able to legally upload a photo or share their name without parents first providing consent. (If your child has been longing to use a social media app like the ones we mention, but they are too young, set them up with a Yoursphere social media account. Children are legitimately able to join if they are 12 and under, and we require parental consent for that age group. You can find Yoursphere in the app store.)
That also underscores 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 like to frequent. It was too restrictive, so I found that it was just easier to install a filtered browser such as AVG’s or Metacert. 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. This list didn’t change with iOS 8 except for the addition of “Share My Location.” Here you can lock the settings pertaining to location sharing so your child cannot change them later without your consent.
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, family friendly 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, as previously mentioned, 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 8? 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!