Kids these days. Rather than the pastimes with which our generation wiled away our childhood, like juvenile delinquency, they all want to play computer games. And even the most ‘helicopter’ parent among us every once in a while needs a bit of peace and quiet, so handing them an iPad and letting them throw birds at pigs or whack fruit with swords is actually a good thing.
The downside, though, is that your iPad also has your contacts on it. And you might be logged into Facebook or Twitter. And there’s the App Store. Oh, the App Store.
How do you stop your kids from deleting the CEO’s mobile number or from telling everyone you know that you watch TV in your underwear? Simple: parental controls.
It’s ‘General > Restrictions’ for parental controls.
Open the ‘Settings’ app, tap on ‘General’ and then ‘Restrictions’. On the next screen, tap ‘Enable Restrictions’ and you’ll need to enter a passcode. If you have a passcode for your iOS device, the passcode for ‘Restrictions’ can be the same or different. We suggest a different one, since you may have given your kids the iPad access code. If they have the code for the ‘Restrictions’, there’s no point.
The four-digit ‘Restriction’ passcode can be the same as your iPad’s passcode or different. It’s up to you, but if your kids know the iPad code, choose a different one.
Once you’ve created a passcode, you’re presented with an enormous list of options for what you might want to stop your kids from doing.
In the first section, labelled ‘Allow’, we suggest leaving the ‘Camera’ allowed (because kids take cool photos and videos) and leaving Siri on (because it’s fun), but deactivating everything else. In the next section, ‘Allowed Content’, you have fine-grained control over what apps and content your kids can use based on the iTunes Store’s ratings. Obviously this only affects content you’ve bought from the iTunes Store or that you’ve rated yourself (that’s for another tutorial). Different types of content have different rating systems, so go through each category and see how finely you want to restrict things.
Most importantly, switch off ‘In-App Purchases’. Even if you’re not silly enough to have given the kids your iTunes password, they have a 15-minute window after you’ve entered it to buy things. And some of the things you can buy via in-app purchase are scarily expensive. Seriously, switch it off.
There’s obviously more that you can control (or choose not to) with ‘Restrictions’ than there’s space for here. Explore the options to keep your kids – and yourself – protected.
The YouTube exception
Back in the old days, there was a YouTube app for the iPad and iPhone that Apple built. It wasn’t very good, but you could stop access to it using the iPad’s ‘Restrictions’ settings. Now that Apple has removed its YouTube app and Google has built its own, that’s no longer an option.
You can restrict access to the kind of content your kids watch on YouTube via the app’s settings. However, that won’t stop them chewing through your download quota with Minecraft videos. If you want to stop your kids watching YouTube, you can restrict access to it in the ‘Allowed Content’ section of the ‘Restrictions’ settings by allowing only apps rated up to ’9+’ (YouTube is rated ’12+’). This will also block any other apps with higher ratings.
The YouTube app has fairly crude content protection to stop your kids seeing explicit content, but it’s self-regulated by the YouTube community.