It’s tough parenting in the internet age. Most of us grew up in a very different world than our kids, one without social media, streaming, and all the information in the world at our fingertips. It can feel daunting to try and protect our children from the dangerous parts of the internet while encouraging them to form good habits around their use of technology, but there are plenty of things you can do to help give your kids some guardrails on their devices while they develop the self-discipline they’ll need to eventually set those boundaries themselves.
There are lots of great apps out there that can help you manage and protect your child’s phone usage. But if your family uses Apple devices like iPhones or iPads, there are some built-in parental controls in the operating systems themselves. We highlight some of the main ones in this blog post, but it’s worth taking a look at Apple’s official guide too.
Here are 6 tips to help you protect your child while they use their iPhone or iPad.
1. Regulate explicit content and content ratings
If your kids use Apple Music or another Apple-specific media app (like Apple Podcasts or Apple TV+), you can manage the ratings of the media they consume. You can prevent the playback of music with explicit content and movies or TV shows with specific ratings. Apps on the app store also have ratings that you can configure using content restrictions.
2. Limit screen time
You can set up screen time limits for your child’s devices, which can restrict time spent on specific apps, app categories, and on the device as a whole. When you set up screen time on your child’s device, you can also add age restrictions in your control settings for content in books, movies, music, and TV shows.
3. Manage Game Center
Games are some of the most popular and frequently downloaded apps for young people. The Apple Game Center allows your kids to play games with other users. You can customize how and when your kids use the multiplayer functions. You can make sure they only play with approved contacts. You can also disable private messaging within game apps.
4. Control app purchases, downloads, and deletion
With this built-in feature, you can protect your kids from downloading any unauthorized or potentially harmful apps or in-app purchases, like messenger apps, social media, and games. You can also prevent things like accountability apps or additional parental control apps from being deleted.
5. Hide built-in apps
You can hide the built-in apps on your device, such as the mail app or the text messages app. You can’t delete apps that are built into the system, but you can remove them from the home screen and restrict them so they can’t be used.
6. Restrict Siri web searches
Siri, Apple’s voice-controlled AI assistant, can give your children unlimited access to verbal web searches if not controlled. When you set up Siri, you can restrict it from making web searches with explicit content. You can also prevent Siri from searching the web at all.
All of us need to be careful with how we use technology, no matter how old we are. Putting restrictions on our kids’ devices not only keeps them safe from things and people that would cause them damage, but working together to talk about what those limits should be and why they’re there opens up conversations that will help them think about ways they can maintain those limits themselves as they move towards adulthood. It might also be an opportunity for you to share how you use your own devices, and talk together about how we can all practice healthy tech habits and good self-control.