Set up a child-friendly iPad

Scholle Sawyer McFarland
16 June, 2013
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Children across the world are spending more time with the family iPad. In today’s Macworld Video, Scholle Sawyer McFarland shares some tips for making the iPad safer and more child-friendly.

Video transcript

Perhaps your family, if you have one, shares an iPad or iPod touch, or perhaps your children have got lucky and scored their own. Either way, before you hand over an iOS device to a child, it’s a good idea to do a little parental preparation.

Pick your restrictions

iOS devices offer basic parental controls. Tap Settings, tap General and then tap Restrictions. When you tap Enable Restrictions, you’ll be prompted to enter a four-digit code – this code will now be required to change the settings.

Most of your options are pretty black and white: Disable Safari or leave it available. Nothing fancy, like the ability to create whitelists of sites your kid is allowed to visit.

So what settings should you change? And what else can you do to make your iPad truly child friendly? The answer depends on on one basic question: what are you worried about?

Disappearing (and appearing) apps

If you’re worried that your children (especially your young children) will mess up the iPad, then disable their ability to Install and Delete Apps. The App Store will actually disappear. Also, scroll down to Accounts and select Don’t Allow Changes to prevent your child from changing settings for Mail, TwitteriCloud and more. This means, your child won’t be able to add an email account, for example.

In-app purchase mayhem

Are ‘freemium’ games popular with your children? These apps let you pay to unlock bonus levels or immediately access game features. In general, you have to enter an Apple account password to buy anything.

The trick is, by default there’s a 15-minute period following the initial download of any app or in-app purchase when you don’t need a password to buy more. If you’d rather not accidentally rack up $50 in Pet Shop paws, change the Require Password setting to immediately. This ensures that app purchases require a password every time. Or, just disable the In-App Purchases options altogether.

Online boogeymen

If you’re worried about your child’s access to the outside world, you can disable FaceTime or the Camera (which also disables FaceTime).

Scroll down to Privacy options, too. Here you can disable Location Services – so no one can track your iPad and, by association, your child. Unfortunately, you will not be able to use Find My iPad if you do this. Unless your family includes a trained bloodhound, you will likely need this service. Instead, consider turning off Location Services with individual apps and then clicking on Don’t Allow Changes to prevent new apps from using Location Services.

Explicit content

If you’re worried about young children stumbling upon inappropriate content, there are a few things you can do. First, you’ll see the Explicit Language setting. This just ensures that Siri won’t misinterpret any dictation with four-letter results.

The Allowed Content section applies to content purchased or rented through the iTunes Store. Here you can set an allowed rating level for Music and Podcasts, Movies, TV Shows, Apps and more.

If you’ve left Safari enabled, take a moment to go to, click on the Gear icon, click Search Settings, and adjust the SafeSearch filters. This tool lets you filter out sexually explicit videos and images from Google search results. I’ll show you the difference here between a search for ‘sex’ without filtering and with filtering. You need to save your Search Settings.

If you want to lock your settings so that they can’t be changed, associate a Google account with your device.

If you have the YouTube app on your iPad (it’s no longer there by default as of iOS 6), seriously consider deleting it. If you decide to keep it, go to Settings, tap Safe Search Filtering, and adjust the filter to your liking. This will at least filter out some of the dreck.

The child-friendly iPad

These tips can help you make the iPad a more child-friendly place. Thanks for watching.

by Scholle Sawyer McFarland, Macworld

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