The iPad is a wonderfully easy and intuitive device to use. This is generally nothing but a major advantage – but at times it can cause issues if you have children who share your iPad or are allowed to use it from time to time. Problems you might encounter range from a child inadvertently deleting a frequently-used app to discovering that your child’s favorite new iPad game has allowed them to rack up hundreds of dollars worth of charges to your credit card via In-App purchases.
Fortunately, the iPad (and iOS) comes with a strong set of parental controls that you can choose to apply to reduce the chances of seeing any problems when you allow your kids to use an iPad, it’s a shared one or one of their own. On the iPad these are called Restrictions – and here’s a quick rundown of how they can be setup:
You’ll find these controls in the iPad’s Settings app – under Settings > General > Restrictions.
To get started you tap the ‘Enable Restrictions’ button at the top of the page – when you do you’ll be asked to set a passcode and confirm it. You’ll need to enter this passcode every time you want to adjust Restrictions settings – so you obviously want to make sure you set a code that you’ll remember, or make a note of it in a secure location, or better yet in a password manager app. If you don’t have any more use for them, you can disable restrictions at any time by returning to the same Settings area and tapping ‘Disable Restrictions’.
There are four sections to the Restrictions area. They are as follows:
Apps and Items You Can Allow or Disallow: Safari, YouTube, Camera, FaceTime, iTunes, Ping, Installing Apps, Deleting Apps, Dictation, Explicit Language. When you disallow Safari, YouTube,Camera or iTunes the icons for these will disappear from your home screen – and you’ll find that URL and YouTube video links in emails will no longer work.
If you disallow Voice Dictation the microphone button will be removed from the keyboard in all apps. If you disallow just Explicit Language under Voice Dictation then any curse words you try to enter using voice dictation will have asterisks placed within them.
You can also disallow installing and/or deleting apps. If you disallow installing apps it will remove the App Store icon and App Store links in emails will no longer work. Choosing to disallow deleting apps will remove the X icon on each app when you tap and hold on app to bring up the ‘wiggly icons’ – so nobody will be able to intentionally or inadvertently delete an app.
There are only two items under this section: Location and Accounts. Under Accounts you have just two basic options – Allow Changes or Don’t Allow Changes. The latter option prevents adding, removing or modifying accounts under Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars.
The Location section offers lot more choices, starting with the same Allow Changes or Don’t Allow Changes. In this case, if you choose Don’t Allow Changes it will lock all of the location settings you select below and, importantly, also prevent new apps from using location services. Like any of these settings though, you can adjust this later if you need to allow a new app access to location services. Right below those first two options, you can choose to have Location Services On or Off. Below that you have a section listing all of your currently installed apps apps that are capable of using location services – and an On and Off toggle button for each of them.
Finally, there’s a section for System Services. The first two services listed – Cell Network Search and Compass Calibration – are generally quite useful. Diagnostics & Usage, Location-Based iAds and Setting Time Zone are arguably far less so – and the time zone service in particular has been said to be a likely source of faster battery drain in the past.
The choices here are as follows:
Ratings For: the default is the United States but it’s easy to switch countries.
Music & Podcasts: choose whether or not to allow explicit content (on or off)
Movies: allow all, don’t allow movies, or allow anywhere from G only up to NC-17
TV Shows: the equivalent set of options for TV as for movies
Apps: Similar again to movies and TV shows – allow all apps, don’t allow apps, or allow anywhere from 4+ up to 17+
In-App Purchases: simple On or Off, to allow or disallow In-App purchases. This one can be a godsend for parents with kids who are drawn to ‘freemium’ iPad games.
Require Password: This setting controls how soon after entering your App Store or iTunes password you will be prompted to enter it again if purchasing an app or other iTunes content. Sadly there are only two options – Immediately or 15 minutes. This can be another very useful one if you have an iPad shared by your kids – as kids figure out very quickly that mom or dad’s password still works right after installing an app (if you don’t have this setting set to Immediately).
Two settings to work with here – Multiplayer Games and Adding Friends. Both can be turned On or Off.
That’s about all there is to working with restrictions on the iPad. Hopefully you won’t often need to use any Draconian restrictions on the iPad – but if you do, or if you just want to set moderate levels of parental controls, this is how you do it.