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How to Set Up Parental Controls on the iPad

When the iPad first hit the shelves in 2010, the jokes inspired by the tablet’s name were of a decidedly adult nature. Two years and two versions later, the comparisons to hygiene products are all but forgotten, and the child who doesn’t want one is the child who doesn’t already have one.

Here are some tips on setting up the iPad so little hands won’t wander into adult territory or rack up a huge iTunes bill.

Parental Controls

Set Up a Child’s iPad

iPads intended for business or educational use may be set up with different user profiles; if you have seen this feature and want to set it up on your personal device, you’re out of luck. The iPad is meant to be a single-user device, and you will have to do a bit of work to give it a G rating.

If the iPad will only be used by your child, perform the following steps before handing it over to her:

  1. Tap the Settings icon.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Tap Restrictions and enter your password.
  4. Tap Enable Restrictions.
  5. Tap Installing Apps.

If she wants to install a new app, she will have to ask you to do it for her. Unless, of course, you give in to her pleadings and give up your password…this is not recommended. All restrictions can be turned on and off one at a time or all at once as needed, so if you are setting up a shared iPad, don’t worry about losing data or otherwise messing up apps if you need to turn things on and off often.

Restrict Content

With the Restrictions window open (repeat steps 1-4), you are at the place where you can disable native apps (the ones that were pre-installed) and certain tasks. Disabling Safari and YouTube cuts off some access to online content; third-party browsers and apps with built-in browsers, like Facebook, will still open most Web pages.

Under Allowed Content, set the level of content that you will allow your child to access. All movies, apps, and music available through iTunes and some third-party apps and sites will conform to your selections here. Do thoroughly vet all third-party apps to see if they conform to your settings.

Safety Restrictions

Still on the Restrictions page, disabling FaceTime, Multiplayer Games in Game Center, and Adding Friends in Game Center goes a long way toward keeping strangers from contacting your child via iPad. Again, many third-party apps have chat capability, so don’t install anything without reading the App Store page first. Do read user reviews, as parents often post loopholes and issues that app developers either haven’t noticed or will not reveal.

Disable In-App Purchases

Many apps “offer” in-app purchases. The current App Store high-grosser Dragonvale, for example, lets users pay real money for virtual jewels used for “buying” dragon eggs and other items that can be earned through diligent and patient game play. With the largest bag of jewels selling for almost $100US, it’s obvious how this game became a top-grosser. To disable In-App purchases from the Restrictions page, Tap In-App Purchases if it is not already set to Off.

Increase Your eIQ

There is a wealth of resources for parents with tech-savvy children. The best place to start is the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s NetSmartz Workshop.

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