Ho Freaking Ho Ho
With Christmas just around the corner, you might be thinking of giving the gift of Apple to one of your children. We did it last year, and I can safely say it
has given me more things to take away from them has gone fairly smoothly. Our oldest is old enough to have wanted a Nintendo DS (remember those?). Instead of us having to go to stores to buy him games, I can gift apps or credit to his account. So much less work for me, giving me more time to drink beer spend time with the family. I wrote down the steps for setting up a kid’s device last year, so here they are to make your Christmas-eve experience as painless as possible.
This is aimed at kids ages 8+. If you’re going to give an iDevice to a younger kid, you might want to make further modifications. This also assumes a pure over-the-air (no PC) setup.
During initial setup, put in your Wifi password and enable locations services. Don’t worry we will lock it down later, but right now we need to set the clock correctly, and location services helps.
Now set up the iTunes account. Every child gets a unique iTunes account! Do not share your iTunes account with them, for several reasons:
- First, you most likely have your own billing information stored. You don’t want children with access to your credit card.
- Second, it doesn’t scale. Once you hit more than one child, or heaven help you more than one iDevice, it is too much of a pain to try to keep everything straight.
- Third, you don’t want your purchases to necessarily mingle with their purchases, and vice-versa. Fourth, you are laying the initial foundation for you’re child’s digital identity. Hopefully, this is their first email account. You gave them their first name, pick out a decent email address for them.
- Fourth, no risk of your potentially embarrassing or inappropriate content accidentally syncing to their device.
- Fifth, a new iCloud account means they can automagically back up to the cloud without using up your precious, precious cloud space. This comes in very much handy when they lose/break/destroy their device and you replace it like the sucker you are.
The most common counter-argument I have heard from parents for no individual accounts is that they want to retain control, so they want everything to be under their account. When a child has an individual account, you have both more control and more security. Being able to clearly separate what is yours and what is your child’s makes it easier for you to know who
screwed up broke the rules. Especially if you have multiple children, teaching them they are responsible for their login is good internetz.
You can set up your information as the billing address. Do not select a method of purchase at this time. I recommend you
break the law make their birth year your birth year (COPAA require you to be older than 12 to have an email account) and just get them a new iCloud account. this isn’t a bad idea for the reasons I outlined above and makes setup easier.
Write down the password, or even better store it in a good password app, like Keeper. I like to use phonetic passwords for low security applications like this, because your older children will be able to remember it. A good one is here: http://tools.arantius.com/password. You can swap out a letter for a number to keep Apple happy. Teach your kids good password habits now!
Enable iCloud. You will need it for the next step.
Turn on iMessage. Now you can send your contact information to your kid’s device easily, plus they can Facetime, etc. Now you should be ready to start downloading apps and tweaking settings. Open a beer, you deserve it.
Now let’s fix the settings. iOS6 devices first.
iOS Version 6
- Go into Settings > Location Services > System Services. Turn off location based iAds and turn on status bar indicator.
- Now it’s time to lock it down. Go to Settings > Restrictions and select “Enable Restrictions”. Here’s how I set up the restrictions for my younger children.
- Turn off YouTube and Ping.
- Set location services to “Don’t Allow Changes”
- Turn off Explicit Music
- Set Movies to PG-13
- Set TV shows to TV-14
- Set apps to 12+
- Turn off “In app purchases”
- Require password immediately
iOS Version 7
I think setup is more complicated in iOS7, but at the same time you have more control over exactly which app gets to know what about you and how.
- In Settings > General > Restrictions, select “Enable Restrictions”. Enter a restrictions passcode. Write is down!
- Toggle off “In-App Purchases”.
- Scroll down, and under ALLOWED CONTENT Turn off explicit music and podcasts.
- Set Movies, TV Show, and Apps to whatever age limit you prefer.
- Underneath websites, select “Limit Adult Content”. This way, if they want to see boobies, they have to try, and you can hold them accountable for that.
- Set “Require Password” to Immediately.
- Keep scrolling down, we are now down to PRIVACY.
- Go into Location Services. If you wish, you can toggle off all of the apps and select “Don’t Allow Changes”, but keep location services on. Find my iPhone is now separate entry, so you can keep it on and still turn off Geo-tagging on everything else.
- While still in PRIVACY, select “System Services”. Turn off “Location-Based iAds”, “Popular Near Me”, and “Traffic”. You can also turn off “Setting Time Zone” if you wish.
- Back up one level to Settings > General > Restrictions.
- Selecting “Advertising” > Don’t Allow Changes. I have no idea what it does, but if Apple wants it on by default you can bet is should be off.
On both versions of iOS (6 and 7), I also recommend that you select:
Settings > Music
and enable a volume limit of about 80%. With iOS6 you can lock the volume limit with a passcode (sadly not the case with 7). I have a little bit of hearing loss which I am certain is due to some poor choices with headphones in my youth, so try and delay the inevitable for as long as you can.
Make sure you have all of your passcodes written down and stored someplace safely. Don’t use your bank PIN, because those crafty buggers will do everything they can to figure out what the code is. If you lose the lockdown passcode and your kid wants to spend their birthday iTunes card on
some stupid powerup in a game and you don’t feel like arguing anymore an in-app purchase and you don’t remember the code to re-enable these, you have to factory reset the device and reinstall everything individually. No backups for you!
Remember: tech is supposed to make life easier
iTouches and iPads are really the Gameboys of this generation, with the added benefit of having non-gaming uses as well. Our kids are true digital natives, and it’s not realistic (nor, I think sensible) to prohibit what should be a wonderful tool and learning opportunity. How much you decide to use it in your family is up to you, but hopefully this guide will get you off on the right foot with a little bit of assurance that you’re not missing anything major. I’ve tried to make this guide reasonably comprehensive, but if I’ve missed something, leave me a comment below!