How To Keep Your Kids Safe When They’re Using iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches

As the man in red is just about to pay a visit to houses worldwide, there are quite a lot of young people looking to be in possession of new Apple iOS devices, iPod Touches, iPhones, iPads. All of which they’ll be working with skill while lots of parents try to figure out how exactly they’re doing what they’re doing. As much as we want to protect our kids from everything that could possibly harm them, or from making mistakes that they will regret, in the era of the screenager, it is a seriously tough job keeping track of absolutely everything they get up to. There are however some safeguards which you can take to make sure that your child is safe in their usage of this technology, while remaining relatively hands-off and allowing them to embrace the age of technology (while ignoring you as they beat their high score in Candy Crush Saga).

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There are a couple of different ways to make sure that their usage is safe and within the limits of what you want them exposed to. Here are 3 key things that you, as a parent, need to check out. 

Parental Restrictions

Apple has a “Parental Restrictions” setting which can be quite handy for those looking to control what your offspring can and cannot access while using their iOS Device.  In this section, you can restrict what kind of downloads your child can make, whether or not they can install or delete apps, use podcasts, the camera, Safari, FaceTime, Siri and much more. It’s all controlled by a passcode which, needless to say, should only be known by the parent or guardian (watch out for them seeing it over your shoulder!). In order to turn on Restrictions, simply go into Settings > General >Restrictions. Here it will ask you to enter a four digit password, this will remain the code which you will control these restrictions with.

 

The first one to look at, which will not only affect what your child is downloading, but also your bank balance, is In App Purchases. These are the little add ons which come with games which can from the outset be free: gems, game cash, level openers. Unlike regular apps, which require a password to be put in every fifteen minutes in order to keep downloading, in app purchases can easily spiral, especially as kids/teens don’t always see it as being real money – however, your card statement soon will. If you’re not feeling able to trust that they will be super diligent with their use in games (and with kids, to be honest, you’re best off assuming the worst when your card details are in the game), it’s a good idea to turn these off in Restrictions – if they do at some point wish to purchase something, and you approve, you can at a later date turn them back on, make the purchase and turn them back off again. It makes for a much smoother system than having to backtrack later when the bill comes in.

For younger users, it may be that you don’t wish for them to use certain features of the device, such as FaceTime or Safari – with a simple click of a button, these can be disabled for use, but easily re-enabled by entering your passcode and turning them back on. This can make sure that they are only accessing things you want to supervise while you’re with them, limiting the amount of things they can get up to. The same can be said for Game Center, where it is possible to interact with others while playing a number of games from the app store. It is never being over-cautious to make sure that your child is safe when they are online.  You can find out more information about using Parental Restrictions on an iOS Device here.

Note: Make sure to keep a note of that Restrictions Passcode – it’s not changeable, and there’s no way of changing the settings if you forget it, bar doing an entire restore of the system – so make sure it’s something YOU’LL remember, but that they won’t guess. 

Family Sharing

The second big one to look out for is Family Sharing. Each Apple user should have an Apple ID – these can be linked to a parent account if there is more than one iOS device in the family. For children under the age of 13, they have very limited powers without the distinct say-so (by granting permissions with, yes, you’ve guessed it, a passcode) of their parent or guardian, and they cannot remove themselves from this. For teenagers between the ages of 13-18, it is possible to give them more responsibility but again, this is controlled by the parent/guardian, thus giving you the control.  With using this family setting for the group of Apple IDs, all purchases come from one card, so do be mindful of this when agreeing that children/teenagers can buy albums or apps. It is also possible for them to load up gift cards to their individual Apple ID’s, and these will be charged first before the family card if they are available. You can add six members to each “family” and this ensures that purchases will be shared so no need to spend twice to get the one song or app.

To set up Family Sharing, you, the Organiser, must go into Settings >*Your Name*> Family Sharing . From here, you can send invites to the other family members devices. Once they accept this invite, they will appear in your iCloud family in this section.

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Other fab features of Family Sharing are Photo Sharing, being able to keep track of what everyone is up to by sharing a family calendar and being linked together through GPS tracking – not only is this great for finding those pesky phones/ipads when they’re on silent and have vanished in the house, but also know where young teens are or to know if your other half is on their way home for dinner! If you need privacy, you can temporarily stop sharing your location by disabling the Share My Location switch in iCloud settings – (unless you have a child account for under 13s, in which case it cannot be powered off). You can also use Family Sharing to share iCloud Storage, which is great for ensuring everything is backed up and no photos get lost.  You can find out more information here

Guided Access

For smaller kids who may be using devices that aren’t their own to watch things like Youtube or Netflix videos, Guided Access is your best friend. This has been an absolute godsend for us, as it allows all of the Peppa Pig viewing without the constant “Oh No” when he exits out of the app by clicking on the home button. It means that once they’re in the app, they can’t get out again, making sure that your apps and your phone bill are safe and you know exactly what they’re up to. Again, it is a code which is key to the safe guarding of this, so with older kids who may figure it out by looking over your shoulder it may be best to type in this code out of their sight.

To set Guided Access, go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Guided Access. In here, you can set up the passcode, decide what exactly can be used – touch, volume controls, whether the screen can change from portrait to Landscape (Motion) and disabling particular parts of the screen.

Once it is set up the first time, you merely need to triple click the home button, and it will be activated. To turn it off again, triple click again and enter your passcode. Alternatively, if you use Touch ID on your device (iPhone 5s and up,iPad Pro, iPad Air 2, or iPad mini 3 or later), click the home button once and place your finger on the home button to scan. Voila, safe phone and happy parents of happy children.

Hopefully these will be of use to you in making sure that your kids are protected and you know what they’re up to on their new devices – let me know in the comments if you find these kinds of posts useful, I know they’re things which have made a big difference to us and family members, and are quick enough to implement! 

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2 Comments

  1. May 13, 2016 / 12:42 pm

    Hi. Great post, though I’m coming to it a bit late.

    Our 10-year-old just purchased an iPad Mini out of his own hard-earned* money, and we’re having trouble configuring the Family Sharing. I have the parental account, but when my son tries to install something (free, in this case), where’s my notification supposed to appear? I don’t have another iOS device (OK; a barely functioning iTouch from a few years ago), and nothing shows up on my Mac’s App Store …

    [Eventually I signed him back out of the iPad — and me in — to purchase it myself, but that seems all wrong.]

    Thanks!

    * scrounged from birthday presents.

    • admin
      May 13, 2016 / 4:06 pm

      Is your son set up as a child account, and if not, have you Ask To Buy set up? This may help you. https://support.apple.com/en-ie/HT201089

      It should come up in your Notifications on your Mac, not necessarily in the App Store.

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