With the holiday season fast approaching, many parents may be considering buying their child a new iPhone or other Apple device. While smart devices can be great source for education and entertainment, giving these tools to children can come with a whole new set of challenges and dangers. The Internet in particular is full of disturbing, explicit, and illegal content that can easily creep into homes with the constant advent of new technology. It can feel daunting for parents to keep up and protect their kids. Luckily, Apple recently released new safety features that allow parents to control and monitor how and when their child is spending time on their shiny new Christmas gift.
Apple’s newest update, iOS 12, introduces a feature called Screen Time, found in the Settings. Through Screen Time, any Apple device can be monitored and controlled for a number of different things, including individual apps, specific ratings for music or TV, and even time spent on each app. What’s better, parents can set up and control these settings from their own devices with the Family Sharing feature.
To find Screen Time, first go to Settings, then scroll down to Screen Time, indicated by the purple hourglass icon. From there, your phone will ask if the device is for yourself or your child. Tap the second option for additional parental controls on your child’s device. You will see several options for controls right away. These can be set up as you go or later, with many finer tuned tweaks and controls to best meet you and your child’s needs. All phones set up as a child’s device requires a parental passcode to access Screen Time and its features.
Screen Time allows users to see just how long they are spending on their device, and what apps are taking up the most attention. When Screen Time is turned on, users will get a weekly report of their exact use, even down to the number of times the phone is picked up in a given day. This is very helpful for parents to see just how much time their child is spending on their new device, and what apps in particular may need an imposed time limit. To set up time limits, go to the Screen Time main page, then tap “App Limits”. Specific time limits can then be set for different categories, such as social networking, games, or all. Once a limit is reached for the day, the phone will show a blank screen that reminds the user their time limit has been reached. For phones set up as children devices, a notification will be sent to the parent phone and the child can request more time. Additionally, parents can set up Downtime (the purple clock icon) in order to shut down all screen time during scheduled times.
Content and Privacy Restrictions
Another important feature parents should be aware of is the Content and Privacy Restrictions. To set these up, tap the red no symbol, and turn on restrictions. Be aware that the default settings for restrictions, even when turned on and for a child device, are none at all. Parents need to set up exactly what apps and kinds of content they will allow on the device. Anything from TV shows, books, and even websites (through Safari) can be restricted by ratings.
With these new features, parents have greater access and control to what their children are seeing and doing on their phones, perhaps making the decisions of holiday gift buying a bit easier this year. Of course, parents should not just rely on Screen Time to monitor and encourage digital safety and responsibility. Talk to your children about their phone use and set boundaries right away. For more resources on teaching digital safety, visit here.
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