Parent’s Guide: Make your iPad Kid safe

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I love the iPad. Especially when I can palm it off to my daughter at 7am on a Saturday morning to catch a few more moments of shut eye before I have to face the day. However, in the back of my sleep fuddled mind, I’m worrying. What if she stumbles upon a scene from RoboCop (the original) on YouTube? What if she finds Infinity Blade? What if she downloads ‘Lady Chatterly’s Lover’ on iBooks (the horror!).

As anyone will know, unfiltered, unrestricted access to the internet and other features of the iPad is not a good idea for children of a variety of ages. Thankfully, the iPad makes it easy for us, as parents to take the lead in securing the device, whilst still keeping it functional for our children. There is also no need to tinker around under the hood of your router.

Guided Access

If you have an app that you want your child to use, but you don’t want them to have the option of leaving this app to do something else, then you need to enable ‘Guided Access’. You can do this by going to:

Settings >> General >> Accessibility >> Guided Access

Once you enable this, you set a PIN code so you can get out of guided access mode. To activate it, go into the app you want to lock your child into, triple click the Home button and press ‘Start’. Your child will now have full access to that app, but they won’t be able to exit the app (leaving you free to turn over and go back to sleep). If you want to exit the app, triple press the Home button again and enter the PIN code you set up for guided access. You iPad is now back to normal!

You can also customise your iPad restrictions by going to:

Settings >> General >> Restrictions

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From here you will be prompted to use a PIN number to set up restrictions. Clearly, don’t make this a PIN code that your child knows. You can then press ‘Enable Restrictions’ to allow you to decide how you want to restrict areas of the iPad. Here are the main sections in the ‘Restrictions’ area:

Allow:

The ‘Allow’ section here relates to Apple specific parts of the iPad, and presents you with a simple toggle on/off button.

All of this is very self explanatory, but for example, if you have very small children, you may want to restrict everything. For older children you might want to restrict less.

Allowed Content:

This section relates to apps, websites and media content on the iPad. Most of the options here relate to being able to turn on and off sexual content, or offensive language.

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The ‘Websites’ section is very useful here as you can restrict websites to the suggested ones from Apple, but also add your own. Again, this is useful for younger children as you can set up a list of favourites and the child can access these websites only. Be aware though, if you are using other browsers, such as Chrome, then these restrictions won’t work.

Privacy:

This section has a variety of options, mainly centring on stopping certain apps on the iPad using your private data. For example, the Flipboard app may request access to your Twitter account to post tweets on your behalf, or a photo editing app may request access to your camera roll. You can stop this access here.

This section is probably slightly less immediately useful for younger children, but it may prevent your older children from messing about with your content and accounts in an individual app.

Allow changes:

Here you can prevent changes to accounts like your mail, contacts and calendars (in other words, stop your children deleting or editing them). There is also the potentially useful ‘Volume Limit’ which prevents anyone from changing the volume. Useful if you are on the edge of going all Michael Douglas in Falling Down after listening to the repetitive music in that kiddie game for the hundredth time.

Game Center:

Again, this is very self explanatory, but useful if you want to avoid your children adding random friends in Game Center.

The beauty of the ‘Restrictions’ settings is that once you have set it up to your satisfaction, you can just press on ‘Enable Restrictions’ to quickly activate them, and ‘Disable Restrictions’ when you want to use your iPad again.

Having said all of this, children are masters at circumventing most restrictions placed on them, whether technical or not. Restricting by blocking is one thing, but nothing can really replicate a good old chat with your children about the do’s and don’ts of iPad and internet use, and the build up of trust which will pay dividends in the future.

James Potter

My day job is Director of Technology at one of the UK's leading independent schools. I'm on a daily mission to use, and learn to use technology in the most creative, innovative and transformational ways. The iPad ticks all of these boxes. My geekery also extends to a passion for cricket, amateur astronomy, video gaming and bad guitar playing. You can contact me on Twitter with the link below.

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