Figuring out privacy settings and restrictions for your iPhone and iPad is not something that was included in the What to Expect books, but perhaps it should have been. Those restrictions can be great tools for parents. Did you know that you can limit the rating of the movies, apps, music and everything else that can be enjoyed and/or downloaded on that phone?
In a discussion on the Tween Us Facebook page, author J. J. Cannon said she wished that more parents were aware of and used the restrictions available on kids' iPads and iPhones. She has written a social media guide for girls called Sophie Takes a Selfie, and she kindly wrote this guest post tutorial for using settings and restrictions on your iPhone and iPad.
Do you remember how you felt the first time your child asked (hopefully they asked) if they could "pleeeeaaase set up an account on Instagram?" Were you unphased or did you immediately feel the impending dread of duck-faced-selfies-from-parties-concerts-movies-etc, stuff-your-kid-might-not-be-invited-to, stranger-danger, mean girl drama, the extra oxygen that will be depleted from having to discuss and explain all that they may see creep over you? Disclaimer: I think a lot, looking at things from every possible angle… but that’s exactly why I’m here for you – for US. We’re all in this together.
For the sake of simplicity, I’ll use Instagram as the example since it is typically the first choice among tweens chomping at the bit to sow their socially active oats. Once that barn door has opened there’s no turning back. Subsequently, you will be asked (they’re asking right?) if they can have SnapChat, Ask.fm, Kik, etc. because “everyone does”. Did you know that Kik Messenger is rated 17+ in the App Store?
I recommend kids start with one social media account to see how they and you handle it, and work from there as they grow older and earn trust through showing an ability to make good choices. We are all free to parent our children as we see fit, so I am not here to tell you what to do. These are suggestions. Every kid and family is unique and these are all very personal choices. Know this: The kids are going to make mistakes – it’s inevitable, but with the right guidance we can help them avoid the big ones. Don’t ever say, “My kid would never” because any kid might.
Social apps do not come with a handbook for that says, “WARNING! Proceed with caution! By creating one or more profiles here you are henceforth adding immediate and unnecessary layers of complication to your life.”
Life is busy and many well-intentioned parents allow their kids to set up accounts before seriously considering and discussing the potential pitfalls ahead. Most parents aren’t thinking about how easy it is for pedophiles posing as kids, or photographers of whatever cool thing your kid’s into, to become connected with their kid. Did you know that the majority of kids on Instagram have more than one account? Often, “secret” accounts are created that parents never see unless they are using some form of parental control software and even that is not foolproof. It’s exhausting, I know.
There are, however, a few simple steps parents can take, whether that horse has left the barn or not, to keep hold of the reins and stay one step ahead of their tweens… because we are, after all, the parents (i.e., rightful owners to whom the devices are registered and who pay the bills each month, yes? Yes.).
The following shows how to set restrictions on the iPhone/iPad:
Step 1: Go into Settings
Step 2: Select “General”
Step 3: Within General, select “Restrictions” (several items down)
Step 4: Select “Enable Restrictions”
Step 5: You will now be prompted to enter a four digit passcode (for your eyes only!)
Step 6: Within Restrictions you can turn off (by sliding ‘buttons’ to the left) things like Safari (the internet), iTunes Store, Installing Apps, In-App Purchases, etc.
From here, you can go into “Movies” and check “Don’t allow movies” or select which rating level they are allowed to view.
You can select Rating Restrictions for everything! This image shows settings for Music, Podcasts and iTunes U, Movies, TV Shows, Books, Apps, Siri, and Websites, and also requires a password for purchases.
Often parents feel they are invading their kid’s privacy by wanting to check up on and follow their accounts, have access to passwords, etc. What I would like for every parent to understand and teach their children is that the internet has created an illusion of privacy. There is no such thing as “online privacy” and no one should ever be fooled into thinking otherwise. I remind my own daughters regularly to consider that anything they post today- whether it’s a text message to a friend or picture on social media- could potentially be a national headline or viral Vine video tomorrow.
Hopefully, this has been helpful. Like it or not, it is our responsibility as parents to know what our children under the age of eighteen are doing online.
J. J. Cannon, author of best-selling social media guide for girls, "@Sophie Takes a #Selfie", is a California native transplanted to New Jersey where she works as a freelance writer, specializing in Social Media Management. She founded JenCann Productions in 2009, and has worked with an AC Billboard Chart topping artist, a New York Times bestselling author and some very successful mompreneurs. You can also find her blogging at www.sophietakesaselfie.com and www.welladjustedorsotheysay.
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