Set up a kid-friendly iPad

As summer arrives, kids across the land are spending time with the family iPad. In today’s Macworld Video, Scholle Sawyer McFarland shares some tips for making the iPad safer and more kid-friendly.

Video transcript

Perhaps your family shares an iPad or iPod touch, or perhaps your kids have gotten lucky and scored their own. Either way, before you hand over an iOS device to a kid, 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 4-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 kid friendly? The answer depends on on one basic question: What are you worried about?

Disappearing (and appearing) apps

If you’re worried that your kids (especially your young kids) 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, Twitter, iCloud 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 kids? 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 kid’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 kid. Unfortunately, you will not be able to use Find My iPad if you do this. Unless your family includes a trained blood hound, 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 kids 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 & Podcasts, Movies, TV Shows, Apps, and more.

If you’ve left Safari enabled, take a moment to go to Google.com, 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.

Netflix

Apple’s Allowed Content restriction only applies to content that comes from the iTunes store. So, what about Netflix? Netflix offers some great programming for kids, but it has plenty of inappropriate content as well—some of which might show up in your Watched Recently list.

Netflix does now offer parental controls, but they affect the entire account on all devices. That mean when you want to watch grown-up shows, you must go to your computer, log in to Netflix.com, click Your Account, change the Parental control settings, and then…wait up to 8 hours for changes to go into effect.

If you have young kids, don’t bother. Instead, activate Netflix’s special dashboard limited to kids’ shows. On your iPad, click on “Just for Kids” to switch to this view. The Kids view highlights characters at the top to make selection easier for non-readers. It also reveals a lot of children’s shows that are otherwise hard to dig up.

The kid-friendly iPad

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

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