Preparing iPhones and iPads for Kids

More and more kids are receiving iOS devices at younger ages either as gifts or hand-me-downs. As parents, it’s important to know how to restrict these devices to make them as safe as possible.

Safety From Others

One of the most important things you can do as a parent is to protect your kids from strangers. This is difficult in the real world, but even more so online. Here are a few things you can do.

  • Go to Settings > General > Restrictions.
  • Enable Restrictions and choose a Passcode (if you haven't already).
  • Disable "AirDrop."
  • Disable "Music Profiles & Posts."
  • Go to "Location Services" and choose "Don't Allow Changes." Turn off Location Services.
  • Go to "Contacts" and choose "Don't Allow Changes." Choose the options based on apps.
  • Go to "Share My Location" and choose "Don't Allow Changes."

Safety From Mature Content

There is no 100% effective way to shelter our kids when they are online, but there are steps you can take to help the process.

  • Go to Settings > General > Restrictions.
  • Enable Restrictions and choose a Passcode (if you haven't already).
  • Scroll to the "Allowed Content" section.
  • For "Music, Content, & News" disable the explicit option.
  • For "Movies" choose the ratings you allow.
  • For "TV Shows" choose the ratings you allow.
  • For "Books" disable the explicit option.
  • For "Apps" choose an age range.
  • For "Siri" disable explicit language.
  • For "Websites" choose to limit adult content.

Safety from Purchases

With TouchID, Apple has already created obstacles for kids who have a tendency to buy apps, movies, etc. However, if you have a mischievous kid who might steal your thumbprint while you’re napping, there are some additional steps you can take. You can block them entirely, but I don’t recommend that because there might be a time when they actually need to make a purchase.

Family Sharing on iOS devices is perfect for this situation. Family Sharing allows a family of up to 5 to share purchased apps, purchased music, purchased books, purchased movies, and purchased tv shows (you only pay once, you all get it). It also gives you the option of sharing an iCloud storage plan allotment1 You can optionally have a shared photo album, a shared reminders list, and a shared calendar. You can get an Apple Music plan for your whole family. You can see each other’s location (optionally). But none of that is why you’re here, we’re talking safety after all.

When you enable Family Sharing, you can assign a role of either Parent or Child to each member. Parents have unrestricted access to change settings and make purchases. Children can’t change the settings of Family Sharing. As for purchases on the phone, if they click the Buy button, it will alert you on your device and allow you to approve or decline the transaction2. Perfect.

To enable family sharing, go to Settings and click your name at the top. Go to Family Sharing and set it up as you’d like.


  1. This doesn't mean everyone has access to each other's files. It only means you share the 2TB of space. 
  2. To be clear, this is for purchases in the App Store, iTunes, in-app purchases, etc. This does not apply to purchases on a website like Amazon. 
Matt Langford @Mtt

Copyright 2018 Matt Langford

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