Predictably there will be a huge amount of Apple mobile devices given as gifts to kids of all ages in a few weeks time for Christmas. It’s quite likely that kids as young as 4 years old will be given iPad Minis or iPods. It is so important that when setting up these mobile devices for your children that you set up the iDevice appropriately with safety settings for their age and maturity.
All Apple mobile devices from iPhones through to iPads have really great parental controls. You can enable specific privacy and safety settings on each device so that your younger child can only use a few apps, from educational apps to drawing apps and age appropriate games. Or you can set up a device for an older child, for e.g a 12 or 13 year old so that they are restricted only from adult content. The worst thing you can do is turn on the device and hand it over as is without checking the settings.
Don’t Open The Bank!
If you want to prevent your child from running up huge bills that could get into the hundreds or even thousands of dollars, the first piece of advice is not to set up the device through iTunes with a credit card linked to it. Redeem iTunes gift cards for App purchases, you can buy iTunes gift cards from most supermarkets, and some stores have specials on them where they are reduced in price. As the kids get older you can decide if they can set up their own iTunes accounts. But even with Teens its best to use iTunes gift cards for App and Music purchases, so that you won’t get any “Bill Shock” if they go overboard with purchases on your credit card.
Beware Of In App Purchases!
Many games available on iDevices have what is known as “In App Purchases” meaning they purport to be a free app initially, but when your child goes through the game or App, they are encouraged to buy “extras” to enhance the game or move them up the rankings. Many parents have been caught short by “Bill Shock” from a combination of not disabling this important setting on the iDevice and allowing their child free access to their credit card through iTunes.
Before you hand over any iDevice check out these settings!
All iDevices have identical settings, so it’s easy to learn where they are once you have set one device up.
To find the parental controls on all these devices, go first to the General Settings App on the device home screen after you have linked and synced the iDevice with an iTunes account, and yes you can skip the input credit card number setting.
1. Go into the general settings app on your device:
2. Then Scroll Down To Restrictions and click it to ON:
3. Click “Enable Restrictions”
When you enable the restrictions, you will be asked for a 4 digit password. This should be a password that only you know, so that your child cannot get into the settings and change them back. Keep this password somewhere safe and handy you may have to use it quite a few times.
Once you have set the password for the Restrictions, you can go through all the restriction settings and set them appropriately for your child.
What Are All These Apps?
Safari: You may not want your child to have access to the open web just yet, Safari is a fully funtional web browser that opens up the entire adult web to your child. Turning off access to Safari will protect them from adult sites.
iTunes: Turning off iTunes means that they cannot download games or apps without your approval. Same with installing Apps and updates, you will need to do that for them.
Ratings: You can set the settings for kids so that they can only access content that is appropriate for their age.
YouTube: On an iDevice YouTube cannot be filtered for adult content as it can be through a normal browser like internet explorer or Safari on your desktop or laptop. Many parents just turn YouTube off on their child’s iDevice for this reason as there is quite a bit of swearing and semi nudity allowed on YouTube.
Switch any apps you want to disable to the OFF position.
When you scroll further down the screen you will see the setting for “In App purchases”. This a good one to turn off if you do have a child with access to your credit card on the device (not recommended) or you have given them an iTunes gift card and want them to use it wisely and supervise all their purchases. The “In App Purchases” can really add up, with some parents being caught out for hundreds of dollars! Switch this setting to OFF to disable it.
Explicit language: Turning this one off, means anything that is marked as containing explicit language or swearing will not be able to be viewed or downloaded.
Location Services: Is a good one to monitor. Turn off Location Services for most apps and also for photos, so that your child’s location can’t be tracked if they do happen to have their location uploaded to a site via an app or a photo within the metadata. This protects their privacy and helps prevents bullying or stalking. Instagram is becoming a very popular app for kids but it has an option to track where the photos are taken via Location GPRS, and if a child uploads photos through Instagram, and it’s set to public, their home address or the location where the photo was taken can be found. So make sure if they have Instagram on their iDevice you go into it’s settings and check that location services is also in the OFF position.
Keep “Find Your Friends” if you use it to track your child, and “Find My Phone”. Find your friends is a great way to see where your child is if they have the device on them and its connected to the internet or 3G. Find my phone helps you locate a lost iDevice if it is turned on and connected to 3G or Wi Fi.
Allow changes to Accounts: Disallowing your child to be able to change the settings on “Find My Friends” for example means you can prevent your child from disabling the location settings. If you want to track your child but they don’t want you to know where they are, they could, for instance, change the settings on “Find My Friends” so you can’t find them. Set these to “Don’t Allow Changes” if you don’t with them tampered with.
Volume Limit: Stops the device from blasting out sound too loud and hurting your child’s ears!
Multiplayer Games: Disables your child from being allowed to play an online game with others, such as Minecraft multiplayer online. They will still be able to play games as a single player, switch to off. Some children don’t know who they are playing with online, it could be an Adult they don’t know.
Adding Friends: Protects them from collecting friends in games online also, switch it to Off.
Watch Out For Skype!
Skype is an app now available on iDevices, that is becoming increasingly popular for kids it works via Wi Fi and 3G. For many children it’s replacing the phone. There are no charges for Skype To Skype calls, and they can make calls on their iPods to friends. Be sure you have the Skype privacy settings set up, so that your child doesn’t get approached by strangers. Without these safety settings set up, your child WILL be approached by strangers on Skype, this is not a rare occurrence, it is very common! You will need to enable the Skype privacy settings through your child’s account through a PC Internet browser
To Enable Skype Privacy Settings
Open Skype at www.skype.com in Safari, chrome, or internet explorer on your laptop or PC
- Sign into your child’s Skype account.
- Go to the Skype menu on the top bar (top left).
- Go to Preferences
- After the preference window opens Go to the Privacy tab and set all to contacts only and untick the 2 bottom settings. Close and Save. These privacy settings will then be set for any device your child has their Skype account on.
AN IMPORTANT NOTE: As with all devices that can potentially connect to the internet. You must supervise your child’s use of the device. There is no fail safe device, but at least with these settings you can greatly limit your child’s exposure to adult content, approaches by strangers and cyber bullying. When your child downloads new Apps, be sure to go into the General Settings, and scroll down till you see the app, and check its privacy and safety settings.
Are you buying your child a tablet or iPod this holiday season? Let us know in comments if you have any experiences with your child getting into trouble on one of these devices, what did you do?
— CommunityBrave (@CommunityBrave) March 18, 2013