Childproofing Your iPhone

Today’s Wired Child:

Why Do Some Early Elementary School-Aged Children Have Cell Phones?

The age at which parents are giving their children mobile phones is getting younger every year.  Although my kindergartner and second grader don’t have phones and won’t anytime soon, some of Lolo’s 2nd grade classmates already do. I conducted an informal Facebook survey among my personal friends and 20 quick responses.  I found that five 3rd graders have them at school – (three of which have no internet restrictions on their iPhone/iTouch and cell phone.)  When you pick up your kids up from their elementary school today, look around.  You’ll see kids everywhere with a cell phone pressed to their ear.

So why are parents arming their early elementary aged kids with cell phones? There are a host of reasons and every family has their own rationale. The most common reasons? The convenience and “safety net” of having 24/7 access to your child and vice versa.   I get it and have honestly considered it. How handy would it be to call my daughter to let her know I’m running 5 minutes late for pick up?  Or she could lob off a call to me when she forgets her lunch. With some of the crazy stuff that goes on in elementary schools these days (i.e. kids with weapons, drugs, etc.) or even the threat of an earthquake or major emergency, the idea of my kid having a “bat phone” direct-to-mom appeals to the latent helicopter mom in me.  Some phones have GPS locators which allow parent to monitor child’s whereabouts from home. Pretty cool stuff, especially if you are juggling several kids’ schedules and drop off and pick up times overlap. Today’s savvy cyber mom relies on technology more and more.  I’m all for that (I own a Blackberry Pearl AND an iPhone and am an admitted app and technology junkie) but safety must come before convenience.

A word of caution about early elementary kids and cell phones:  Although the cell phone offers some great solutions and peace of mind, if not properly web-restricted and monitored it is unsafe for your child as it can expose them to inappropriate spam, vulgarity, viruses and even predators. Early elementary aged kids can’t be expected to practice adult discernment nor are they prepared to handle or process elicit subject matter.  A child with unrestricted web access on his phone is like letting a child peruse the web on your home without supervision. Still ready to get junior a phone? I put together some safety tips to help you through the process.

Interested in Elementary School Kids & Cell Phones Safety Tips?

  • NO INTERNET ACCESS: Don’t buy a phone with Internet access or if it does have access don’t sign up and pay for and the internet service.
  • PARENTS LOAD CONTACTS: Parents load only the phone numbers your child is allowed to call. No other calls permitted. This is tricky as your child will easily learn how to dial any number.
  • NO TEXTING SERVICE:  Do not sign up for texting service. Put this off for as long as possible because once they are texting with pals it requires a whole new level of supervision and proactive parenting.
  • KEEP PHONE IN BACKPACK. Make your child keep phone in their back pack at school. They can turn it on when school is out.  Many elementary schools have a cell phone policy where phones will be confiscated until end of day or sometimes the whole school year.
  • TURN PHONE INTO MOM DAILY. Make child give phone to you daily after school so you can charge it and have access to phone’s history to see if they have been following your rules. This is a good rule of thumb many parents follow through high school.
  • PASSWORD-PROTECT ALL CELL PHONES IN HOME: Implement password protection on all phone in your home (Parents, teen sibling, guest, etc.)  ones are not able to gain internet access.

Common Myths and Misinformation:

1. My daughter is clueless. She doesn’t even know how to use the internet on her phone.

It takes minutes for a phone savvy child to show her how.

2. I trust my child.  He won’t go on any “bad” websites.

A “search” can go bad very quickly. A dear friend’s son decided to do a search on BUTTS, a perfectly normal thing for a 9 year old boy to do.  I just did the same search and it pulled up 4 porn sites.

3. I bought my son an iTouch so he can play games. He doesn’t do all that other stuff.

Both iTouch and iPhone have access to the Internet via Safari and You Tube, both of which have access to illicit video and photos. There are iPhone/iTouch porn Apps, adult chats apps and various FREE rated R apps.

4.       I set all the restrictions on my son’s iPhone/iTouch so there’s no way he can access anything I don’t want him seeing.

All your child has to do is reset the device on iTunes.  There are other ways to access the restricted areas as well. Word travels fast at recess.

5. My son uses the FREE AOL email account on his iTouch BUT I’ve set all the child restrictions and permissions.  So he’s safe browsing web and checking email from there.

Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, etc., have very few options for parental controls.  There are applications that will offer more security than the FREE email sites can provide like copy you on emails that are from unknown senders NOT in the child’s address book; set time blocks when they can use their email, filter out bad words, images, etc.

Safety Restrictions for iPhone or iTouch:

  • Go into the SETTINGS app
  • Tap GENERAL and set the Auto-Lock and Passcode Lock to On
  • Tap RESTRICTIONS, tap enable restrictions, and enter and confirm a four-digit code
  • Switch off these features: Explicit iPod Content, Safari, YouTube, iTunes, and Installing Apps
  • When you slide the On/Off toggle for Explicit iPod Content, any tracks marked Explicit become invisible. They’re still on the device, you just can’t access them
  • When you toggle off Safari, YouTube, iTunes and/or Installing Apps and the associated applications on the iPhone or iPod touch are hidden

If you followed the above directions you should be good, however the below is a second layer of protection:

  • In the same GENERAL RESTRICTIONS section you can control ability to buy in-App purchases
  • In the same GENERAL RESTRICTIONS section tap Ratings For and choose US for our ratings system.

o   Tap Music and Podcasts to show CLEAN

o   Tap Movies to show G

o   Tap TV Shows to show G

o   Tap Apps and choose age appropriate level

 

  • Switch locations to OFF

AFTER ALL THIS, all your kid has to do is restore the iPod touch or iPhone in iTunes to regain access to everything you restricted.

 

One Response to “Childproofing Your iPhone”

  • Children are able to reset their device after restrictions are set, therefore Apple needs to make it available for the parent to block the reset option on the iPod, iPhone, or iPad.

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