Its that time of year, inevitably your child received an iPod or tablet. From a grandparent or aunt or uncle, or maybe even you as their parent. And why not? Games are cheap and accessible, Nintendo DS’s might be cheaper at first but the iPods are what everyone wants, they do more and they look like Phones so it’s a no brainer right? Not entirely no – at least not without safeguards.
There are significant DANGERS and needed precautions to take! Here are the basics.
iPods and tablets are dangerous and we need to be aware and responsible when our kids get them. Don’t get me wrong, we actually support a responsible introduction to devices for our kids so that they can be productive in our society. Check out this post for our suggestions around a graduated system of introduction to iPods, Phones and tablets. But most of that you can worry about later, you MUST take care of the basics first.
I’d like to outline some basic steps to implement to safeguard your kids.
I'm going to focus on iPods and Apple devices because they are the most portable and desired even among kids. Android devices are slightly different and cheaper but not as easy to utilize effectively for our kids.
The first thing to note is that I am not suggesting using the “Shared family account” settings for your child, OR that you log them in with your iTunes info. This will make it confusing and complicated as you won’t be able to customize setting differently on your device in comparison to their, this may frustrate you and cause you to throw out precautions in favour of convenience.
Start by opening up their own Gmail email account. This might surprise you, but in order to give them their own iTunes account they need their own email address. In the long run this is good because you are laying the foundation for them. You are NOT giving them access to their own email address yet! Gmail requires an your child to be 13 before having an email address, but in this case your child isn’t using it yet, so I put my own age as the user of the account. This also allows you to create a responsibly titled address for your child’s future. We have chosen our children’s actual names for this.
*Be sure to keep a record of the accounts you open and what the passwords are for future reference.
When setting up the iPod it will ask you to log or set up your iTunes account. You can do this now with the email address you created for your child. Follow the prompts and set up iTunes passwords making sure to have it ask for the password EVERY time a new application is downloaded/requested. It will give you the option of a 15-minute window to continue downloading after the password is plugged in. This is not a good idea as your child can walk away and download whatever they want for 15 minutes.
Also, don’t use the “shared family accounts” option. In theory you could save money by paying only once for some music and games but this isn’t needed and leaves room for downloads from you or older siblings that you don’t want them to have.
Now that you have most things set up, you need to do some parental controls on the iPod itself. Our App recommendations and limitations are again found here – Click here. But at this point it is important that you turn off Safari,YouTube and iMessage. If you would like your child to have access to kid friendly YouTube videos “YouTube kids” is a possible alternative.
To remove follow these steps:
- From the main iPhone/iPod screen choose the “Settings” option
- Click on "General"
- Next, choose “Restrictions” to turn that feature on (if it is not already on – you will also be required to enter a 4-digit passcode that you setup if the feature is not already on) – record this password as well, it is NOT the same as the password your child may want that locks others out of the iPod itself.
- In the Restrictions menu, you will then drag the slider under the “Safari”, “iMessage” and “Facetime” and “YouTube” option to “OFF”. In this menu, there are other important features you can shut off as well, including content ratings, iTunes downloads and options for installing other applications.