How to make an iPod Touch safe for kids
I'm pretty sure almost every one of my oldest daughter's friends got an iPod Touch
for Christmas this year. We're talking third-graders. And while even we here at Cool Mom Tech have recommended it as an option for a handheld gaming device for kids
the iPod Touch has a lot of features that are decidedly not kid-friendly. So, unless you're watching your child like a hawk every second she's got it in her hands, you might be surprised what sorts of trouble they can get into, with just a couple of innocent clicks.
What you might also not know is that the iPod Touch has a slew of settings and restrictions that really can make it a safer device for kids. To help, we've provided step-by-step instructions for you to follow to kidify that iPod Touch.
Restrictions and Privacy
First of all, it's up to you to keep in mind the age
of your child and their maturity and sense of responsibility, in terms of what you allow and what you keep on lockdown. Hopefully this info will help you make the decisions that are best for you.
The iPod Touch comes complete with Safari and YouTube, as well as access to iTunes, the App Store, Facetime, and a camera. Now these are all awesome for us adults, but not so great for unfettered access by kids. Thankfully, you can set restrictions on pretty much everything on the device by doing the following:
1. Go to Settings
2. Click on General
3. Click on Restrictions
4. Enable restrictions (you will be asked for a passcode and will need to enter this to change any restrictions)
5. Turn "off" what you don't want your kids to have access to, which may include Safari, Camera, Facetime, iTunes, Installing/Deleting Apps.
If you are keeping the iTunes and Installing Apps tabs "on," you'll want to scroll down to "Allowed Content" and set iTunes and App Store limits.
I moved Music & Podcasts to "clean" and set Movies and TV-Shows to "G" and "TV-G" for my 8-year old. I also set Apps Rated to 4+, though you can turn that off completely if you don't want your child to be able to search for apps. Imagine my surprise when my daughter searched for "girls apps" and ended up with...yeah. Not stuff for little girls.
Additionally, I turned off "in-app purchases" and required a password to be entered for any app purchase attempt. But of course, you should consider your children's age, as well as how they'll be using the device, to help in your decision as to what to turn off and how to limit the content they can view.
Within the same Restrictions page, take a few seconds to scroll through each one of the options, including Location Services (which I turned OFF for the obvious reasons
), as well as contacts, reminders, and photos, then decide whether you want your child to be able to make changes to any of those categories.
For example, I prefer to add contacts myself to my daughter's iPod Touch, so I set that to "don't allow changes."
As you scroll down, you'll see you can also turn "multiplayer games" and "adding friends" to off which might be wise for younger kids who aren't quite social networking yet.
If you turned off Safari but would like your child to have some Internet access, you can add a kid-safe browser to the iPod Touch. I tried out two of them on my daughter's iPod Touch to get a sense of how well they work.
K9 Web Protection Browser
is a free app that blocks out adult and potentially offensive sites, as well as malicious sites, potentially illegal sites (online gambling), and even sites that cover child-parent discussion topics. I entered a few different websites, like YouTube.com for example, and that was completely blocked. The interface is a little childish, so your older tween or teen might roll their eyes a bit; and you can't choose words or sites that you want to block since it's all based on their own settings. But I think it works well for younger kids who might still want to do some research or searching on the Internet.
The Mobicip app
is on the higher end at $4.99, and offers the ability to set levels based on your kid's age (I chose elementary) and looks fantastic-- just like Safari in fact.
Now this app does not completely block YouTube, but rather blocks out what their algorithm deem as inappropriate content based on the level you set. Despite that however, a Ke$ha video still popped up on the screen--not the worst thing in the world, though not sure I'd consider that elementary level viewing. Also, in order to get any of the really cool features that Mobicip offers, like adding specific websites and keywords you want to block, as well as getting a report on your kid's activity, you need to upgrade for an extra $9.99. If you've got a teen who you think is ready for a little more freedom, I'd say this app with the additional monitoring could be worth it.
The Tech Talk
Before you pop a safe case on the iPod Touch
and hand it over to your child, I strongly suggest you talk to your children about Internet safety, privacy, and overall gadget care, so that they understand the responsibility of tech ownership and usage. In our own experience, having continued, fluid conversations about technology is important to their safety and success, as well as making sure they understand that they can come talk to you if they have any questions or concerns. The restrictions and privacy settings are only a very small part of keeping your kids safe. Most of it is about the decision they make on their very own.
Find More: Apps apps and more apps, Apps for iOS, Games + Gaming, Internet Safety, Tips and Tricks, Tweens + Big Kids