Google Productivity Pad: Using parental controls on an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch Part 1

Friday, April 5, 2013

Using parental controls on an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch Part 1

Note: This post was written using iOS 6, the look of some icons might have changed and few features may have been added or moved in iOS 7 but for the most part it is the same.

The world is changing, and quickly, as technology evolves. We can use technology to be productive, and at this point most of us need to in our daily work. We can use technology to have fun. But there is a lot of dangerous stuff out there online and even in the walled garden of the iOS ecosystem there are things you would probably rather not see, and really probably would not like your kids seeing. You could try to just keep your kids away from technology, but that would not really teach them how to function in today's world, and regardless chances are if you have an iPad and a child they will meet. Your toddler may even know how to use the iPad better than you do.

Fortunately Apple, unlike android, has built in a set of parental controls that can help keep your child safe online. I wish more people knew about and used these controls because they really are not that difficult to implement, several of them I use even though I don't have kids just to make sure nothing I don't want comes on to my device accidentally. Fortunately setting up these controls is the same for the iPad, the iPhone, and the iPod touch.

Turning Restrictions On
Go to Settings >> General (red box) >> Restrictions (orange arrow).

Click "enable restrictions" (yellow arrow), You will then be asked to select a pass code. Of course this should be a pass code that the child or children who are using the iPad or iPod do not know.

Choosing Restrictions
Now you will be looking at this screen. You now get to choose which options to turn off or on.

  • Safari -- turn this off if you do not want children browsing the web (you may also want to install an alternative web browser such as K-9 for safe searching)
  • Camera -- if you would prefer your children not take a ton of pictures with your iOS device than switch this off
  • FaceTime -- if you don't want your children making video calls to people turn this off
  • iTunes -- if you don't want your children to have access to the iTunes store turn this off (note this does not turn of the Music app, this option is to stop your children from racking up a huge bill buying music)
  • iBookstore -- same as iTunes, you can still have books on the device, but can't buy any new ones while this restriction is on.
  • Installing Apps -- this is an important one to save you money as well, of course this can also be accomplished by not giving your apple password to your child
  • Deleting Apps -- this is especially good if you have a small child using a device who might accidentally delete an app with a lot of data
  • Siri -- you can just turn Siri off here if you don't want anybody using her to do web searches or ask stupid questions
  • Explicit Language -- this will stop Siri from saying bad words, which is nice
Choosing Content
The next section lets you select what content will be allowed on your device (note this is for content purchased from apple's itunes and App Store , if you put some other kind of market place on your device, such as Amazon these restrictions will not effect that, so be aware).

The picture above shows the default settings for content (green box) which is basically to allow everything.

  • Ratings for -- this allows you to choose what country's ratings you would like to use. I like united states
  • Music and Podcasts -- there are only two options for audio content in iTunes, explicit or clean, if you turn explicit off you and your children can only access clean content
  • Movies -- as long as you are set on united states you can choose what rating is the highest you will allow, I like to set it to PG
  • TV Shows -- allows you to choose from any of the TV ratings, I like TV-PG
  • Books -- are like audio content, they are either explicit or not, you can turn of the explicit option
  • Apps -- this allows you to set the app rating that will be allowed on your device, I like 12+
In App Purchases (Blue Arrow)
This is an extremely important setting, many, many apps, especially free ones, contain micro-transactions. These are little purchase in the app, using real world money. Needless to say your kids could rake up a lot of money this way, so do not leave this on.

Require Password
This is another important setting. As you can see it is set to 15 minutes by default. What it does is determine how long you are able to instal apps after putting in you apple password. Lets say you download a game for your child to play, then you hand your iPad to your child. There is a 15 minute window where any app (that's not restricted by rating) can be downloaded without a password input. The only other option is immediately, which will require a password every time someone attempts to download an app regardless. If you have children, especially if they are playing free games bombarded with ads, I suggest that you set it to immediately.

That's all for now folks, I'll be doing another post covering the rest of restriction settings as well as other ways to keep your child safe on an iOS device. In the meantime for a great discussion of children and technology check out this episode of the mac power users podcast.
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Thanks for reading, and remember, live better.

1 comment:

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