Apr 19, 2011

Kid-proofing the iPod Touch or iPhone

The iPod Touch is a great gaming device for kids compared to the Nintendo DS and the Playstation Portable (PSP) because the games are so much more affordable.  Many kid-friendly games are free or $0.99 while top-rated titles tend to be no more than $9.99, but often much less.  Also, sales on games are very common.  That's not to mention that the iPod Touch is great for video, music, web surfing, etc.  But with all these capabilities, you need to protect your kid and yourself from things unwanted.

There are a number of things you'll want to do to protect your kid from content on the web that is inappropriate for a child's eyes and ears.  Below are some of them.

Turn Off Safari & YouTube and Install Mobicip

The web, though full of good useful information, is also a place for pornography, profanity, and other things you don't want your kids exposed to.  To keep your child from these things, the first thing to do is turn off Safari and YouTube.  If you go to the General section of the Settings on the iPod Touch, you'll see a Restrictions.  Tapping that will give you access to things you want to restrict.  You'll have to enter a passcode, one that you should obviously never give your kid.

Once you turn off these, if you want to give your kid access to the web, you can buy an inexpensive browser with kid protection called Mobicip.  You can use just the browser with the free account if you want.  Just follow the instructions online to set it up.  You can even allow your kid to see some videos on YouTube while Mobicip filters out the videos you wouldn't want him or her to see.

If you want an extra layer of protection at home for everything on your wifi network, whether iOS devices or computers, check out OpenDNS for free.  Sign up and it will give you all the instructions you need to filter everything from your wireless router.

Turn Off Location Services

Many modern cameras capture your location via GPS and record this information in the picture as EXIF data. The iPod Touch is no exception to this. This feature is great if you are an adult on vacation and you want to geotag your pictures so you know exactly where you took them.  This is not such a great feature for a kid taking pictures at home and posting them on the internet.  Anyone smart enough could download the picture, view the EXIF data, and know exactly where your kid lives.

Other apps, such as Facebook, can also capture your kids location and post it to the web if enabled to do so.  The simplest thing to do is to turn Location Services off completely in Restrictions by not allowing any changes to it (see Location under Allow Changes), though you can turn it off only for certain apps if you wish.

Limit Allowed Content

From the same page Restrictions page, you can turn off explicit songs and music videos from the built-in iTunes app. If you want, you can turn off iTunes altogether.

Also, you will want to change the maximum rating for movies, TV shows, and apps while you are at it.  These are are located under Allowed Content on the Restrictions page.

For your own sake, you'll want to turn off in-app purchases.  I learned this the hard way when I had a $29.99 charge for a "Premium Potion Pack" in Pocket Frogs.  Although now Apple requires you to enter your password to purchase in-app content, I still restrict in-app purchases.  If I want my kid to be able to make an in-app purchase, I disable the restriction, make the in-app purchase, and turn the restriction back on.

While we are on the subject of apps, although I suggest using one iTunes account for the family, I recommend that you never give your iTunes password to your kids (or anyone else except your spouse). Also, be careful when making app purchase on their device.  Once you enter the password for an app purchase, other apps can be purchased within the next 15 minutes without you having to enter the password again.


The iPod Touch is a great device for kids, for games, education, organization, and entertainment.  However, it has to be prepared for a kid's use.  Take the time to set up the restrictions.  Also, all of these instructions also apply to the iPhone, if you happen to have a kid with one.

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