Getting an iPhone or iPad for a child may seem like an accident waiting to happen, but help is at hand. As horror stories flood the press of little tykes running up credit card bills with in-app purchases, it's only natural to worry about what's going on behind that big metal tablet. Thankfully, Apple has made a range of tools so parents can help keep their child safe. Here are the four most crucial safety tips for iOS devices.
Turn On Parental Controls
Pick up the iPhone, iPad or iPod touch you're preparing to give your child. Under Settings > General > Restrictions, touch Enable Restrictions. The device will then ask you to make a passcode. This is not the same as the one used to unlock the device. Make it something secure: this code lets the user modify the restrictions in place, so something like a birthdate is probably not too hard for the child to figure out. To set a new passcode, simply disable restrictions then re-enable them. If you've forgotten the passcode, you'll have to wipe the device and set up as new.
Spend some time exploring all the different options. Apple lets parents restrict a wide range of apps and content, but it's worth thinking twice about whether it's necessary to restrict everything on the list. For example, disabling location services may seem like a good idea, but it could serve as a crucial navigation tool if the child is ever lost. The restrictions aren't set forever though, so there's no need to fear making the wrong decisions.
Set Up A Child Account
Keep tabs on what your child is up to by giving them their own Apple ID. Apple supports special accounts for children under 13 that gives extra controls to the parents. It's free, simple, and better than giving the child access to your account.
Under Settings > iCloud > Family on your iOS device, Apple provides the option to create a new Apple ID for a child. If an iOS device is not to hand, a child account can also be set up using a Mac. Go to the Apple menu in the top left hand corner, then go System Preferences> iCloud > Manage Family and click the plus.
On both platforms, follow the on-screen instructions, but remember to choose a password and security question that both you and your child can remember. If your child forgets their password, it can be reset through the parent's email address along with the correct security question answers.
Approve And Reject Purchases
With a child account, a child can put in special requests to make purchases from their device. The feature is known as Ask to Buy and means that every purchase will need prior approval. This is the crucial feature: it'll put an end to the horror stories of kids spending thousands of dollars for virtual costumes on their favorite iPhone role-playing game.
Only one parent needs to approve the request. Under the family management screen, you can add more parents to lighten the workload. Requests are deleted after 24 hours if not approved. After that time the child can ask again, the virtual equivalent of saying please over and over again.
Don't spend dollars needlessly. Family Sharing lets the whole family use the same purchased apps, games, books, videos and music. No need to double up on purchases, and it's simple to set up. Making a child account will automatically add the child to the family group, which enables Family Sharing.
When a child account purchase is approved, the whole family gets to take advantage. One thing that can't be shared through the system is in-app purchases. Any fancy upgrades or levels your child has purchased on one account won't make their way over to any other.
With Family Sharing set up, it might be a good time to consider investing in an Apple Music subscription, which lets family members stream as much music as they like. One of the big advantages the service has over Spotify is the $14.99 per month family subscription tier, which works with up to six accounts over Family Sharing. Of course, the subscription only makes sense if more than one family member listens to a lot of music, otherwise it may be a bit excessive.