Keeping Your Kids Safe with iOS Devices

On a lot of Christmas lists this year sit requests for new technology devices. The market has soared over the last few years and it’s led to a decrease in price and uptake in use by younger and younger users. Tablets and smart phones are incredible tools and are high on the wish lists of many young teens (and perhaps younger kids). However, they’re also something that parents can’t hand over lightly, which can create some worry when it’s number one on the Santa list. If iOS Devices (iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad) are on your kid’s wishlist this Christmas, here are some tips to ensure they stay safe, while enjoying their new tech.

Childproofing with Restrictions

As observant as you can be as a parent, it is inevitable that at some point there will be times where your kids have access to the internet on these devices without supervision. In order to ensure they’re only able to access what you want them to access, you can activate the restrictions on your device. Head into the Settings Menu, click on General, click on Restrictions and set a passcode.

You can choose what apps and features your child is allowed to access, which can be changed at any time with your passcode – so keep it safe from little eyes! For a more detailed tutorial, check out this post from earlier in the year. The big one to keep in mind is in-app purchases. These can easily rack up quite a bill and only need a password entered one time. If you’ve got kids who may not relate the costs to real money, it may be best to restrict their ability to purchase.

Family Sharing

If your child is under age 13, they can have an Apple ID as long as it is set up as a member of “Family Sharing”. This allows parents to have a bit more control over what is downloaded and accessed by their kids. A feature called Ask To Buy sends a request to the parents device before it allows any apps or media content to be downloaded to the device. Once the parent or designated “adult” in the family agrees, then the download/purchase can go through.

Family sharing also allows features such as “Find My Friends” (a GPS tracker that under 13s can not turn off which allows parents to locate them if needed), family calendar sharing and sharing of apps and media between accounts. While all purchases under Family Sharing are made from one card (that of the Organiser), individual accounts can load on gift cards for spending on their own accounts. Don’t worry if you don’t want to share everything – you can hide purchases (as an adult on the account) from others in the family if you wish. For more information, check out this link.

family sharing iOS devices

Apple ID Safety

If you’re getting a new Apple device, the Apple ID is an integral part of set up. It is the account which allows you to download apps and media, log into things like iMessage and FaceTime, and store data in iCloud. It’s very rooted into the system and so there are a few things to keep in mind when getting it created.

  • Use a real email address. If you forget your password, a reset email can be sent to your email address – but only if it’s actually a real address. And double check the spelling – this can cause issues if you get locked out.
  • Keep security questions up to date. To get a password reset email sent, you may need to use some security questions which you create during set up. Make sure they’re easy for you to remember but not overtly obvious. Try to make them long lasting. Personally, I’ve had to reset mine a few times as my interests and “favourites” have changed. Security Questions are also case sensitive, so keep that in mind when you’re setting them up.
  • If you choose to set up Two Factor Authentication; make sure another device if at all possible is linked to the same account. If you are unable to access the phone number or trusted device attached to the Apple ID, access can and will be denied. This means you can get locked out of your account – not what you want with your new Christmas gift! While there is a method to get past this lockout, it can take a long time to process, so having a backup is a good option!
  • If you receive emails from Apple or the iTunes Store saying you’ve made a purchase that you don’t recognise, don’t immediately panic. If in doubt, get in touch with Customer Care and they will be able to tell you if it is legitimate. Just like your bank and countless other companies, you won’t be asked for login details or credit card details through an email. In no circumstances should you give them. If in doubt of your account security, a password reset is always a good bet. 99.9% of the time your account will be absolutely fine, but just to stick on the safe side, check with the experts!
  • If you currently share an account, be aware that iMessage sends all messages to any device signed in with the Apple ID. Make sure nobody gets messages they’re not supposed to by using a separate Apple ID for iMessage and FaceTime. You can still use the same for iTunes and Apps if you wish. Save blushes from teenagers and annoying alerts on your own device!

Buy A Case

These devices are expensive. Santa’s elves aren’t great fans of having to replace them after a drop onto the kitchen floor. While not all falls can be protected from, it’s probably best to plan for the worst. Getting a protective case for the device is a good first step. As someone who managed to escape a car accident with her iPhone 4 perfectly unscathed (not a scratch) only to smash the screen to smithereens from a foot above the ground, I know that pain.

As I’m fairly clumsy, a case was a very important purchase for me when I got my new phone two years ago. It’s especially important as I hand the phone to the toddler for Netflix when necessary! There’s a variety of them on the market (and also for iPads and iPod Touches). The one I went for was an Otterbox Symmetry which had a lot of different designs to choose from. It gives my phone a lot of protection with not too much bulk. Keep an eye out for offers in the sales on cases if you’ve not got one before Christmas. You can find some serious bargains in places like Tesco (I got my leather iPad Mini case for 7 euro, down from 70 purely by chance!) and electronics stores. A screen cover is also a good investment – it’ll prevent scratches and protect against cracks and is inexpensive.

This contract from mother Janell Burley Hoffman from Christmas 2013 went viral after hitting many of the notes we as parents find important in protecting our kids. Hopefully this list will also be of help to you in preparing for any new iOS devices entering the house and keeping your kids – and your cash – safe.

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This is in no way a sponsored post. It’s just something I’m interested in and think more parents need to be clued in about. I haven’t received any impetus from Apple or any other technology company to write this piece. All opinions are my own. Any instructions are as documented on the Apple website help documents for their iOS Devices.

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