When we run our 'Keeping kids safe on the iPad and iPhone' information sessions in local schools - where we look at how to set up parental controls on iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches - we are often asked whether similar parental controls can be set up on Android devices.
For those parents whose children have Android devices, here is an interesting article that appeared online in the past week or so - about a Google app that allows parents to control what kids can do and see on their Android device/s, and to even limit the time they spend on these screens.
The article does mention that the app is available in the US - but I am assuming it is also available in Australia.
If you are an Android user interested in this app, let me know in the comments below if you are able to install and use it!
Answering a parent question: Is there a way kids can 'hide' apps on their iPad, iPhone or iPod touch?
iTandCoffee ran another two 'Keeping Kids Safe on the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch' sessions at local primary schools this week, at St Rochs in Glen Iris and at Ashburton Primary.
A question asked at one of these session was about whether there is an app that allows kids to hide apps that they don't want parents to see. One of the parents had heard about an app that looks like a calculator, but that actually hides things the child doesn't want parents to see.
Apps that can hide photos and videos
There are apps available in the App Store that do allow for the hiding of photos and videos that the device owner doesn't want others to see.
Here is an article about such apps:
Method for hiding Apps
However, these apps do not allow for hiding of other apps - and there is no such app available in the App Store. (On Android, it is possible to get an app that locks other apps - but this is not possible on Apple devices.)
Instead, anyone wanting to 'hide' apps on an Apple i-Device can use 'app groups'.
By getting apps into the 'wiggle' mode (holding your finger on an app until it wiggles), one app can be dragged on top of another app to create an app group.
Apps within that group can then be 'hidden' on second and third screens of that app group, so that the App does not appear as a little icon in the group that is on the Home Screen.
Need further information on this?
For those who need to understand this area better - just how one would achieve this 'hiding' in groups, we have recorded a short tutorial and made it available to iTandCoffee Club members, and added it to our library of iPad and iPhone Handy Hints.
Not yet a member of our iTandCoffee Club? Find out more here »
Related Handy Hints and Articles
While assisting a client to set up Parental Controls on her 12yo child's new iPhone this week, discussion turned to the topic of the 'Ask to Buy' setting in the Family setup of iCloud.
This setting allows a parent to remotely authorise (or not) a request from a child who is a member of their iCloud Family, to purchase/download content (even free apps).
In this particular client's case, her child was very keen to get onto the social media platforms that her friends were already on.
This mum was considering allowing her child on Instagram (as a Private account of course), so we installed it and set up the app so that it is a Private account.
She was happy that she had control over what other social media Apps her child could download, through the Ask to Buy setting.
But there is a catch to this setting that meant her child could have downloaded Apps or other content without having to ask for permission.
All parents need to be aware of this 'back door'.
How your child can bypass 'Ask to Buy'
If another member of your iCloud Family has already purchased/downloaded an app, any member of the family (even a child who normally has to Ask to Buy) can also download that same app - without the usual parent authorisation.
This means that, if you as parent have already downloaded Facebook, Instagram or any other app, your children can download the same apps without your permission. If your older teenager uses Snapchat, the younger members of the family could also download that app without your permission.
How to prevent downloads of apps purchased by others in family
You can prevent your kids from downloading apps purchased by others in the family by 'hiding' those apps in the Purchased area of the App Store. The person who purchased/downloaded the app must do this 'hiding'.
If you are a club member, you will find further instructions on how 'hide' apps here.
Preventing kids from downloading/viewing iBooks purchased/downloaded by others in family
Annoyingly, it is not possible to do the same sort of 'hiding' of iBooks just using your iPad or iPhone.
This means that, if you have a heap of trashy romantic novels in your own iBooks library, the kids can see these books in the 'Purchased' area of iBooks. They can even download them without you being 'asked to buy'.
The only way to 'hide' iBooks that you don't want others to see is using the iBooks app on a Mac, or iTunes on Windows.
See the above handy hint (for iTandCoffee Club members) for details of how to do this.
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The iTandCoffee Club is a paid subscription service that unlocks access to all sorts of handy hints, videos, guides, special offers, free sessions and more.
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At a recent Keeping Kids Safe on the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch information session run for parents at a local school, one of the parents asked if parental controls can be set up on an Android device.
For those of you with such devices (or with kids using these devices), here are some articles that discuss how to set up parental controls on these devices.
Related Handy Hints and Articles
I know we've published quite a few articles lately about protecting your kids on their technology, but I thought I just had to include a link to an article in today's Age newspaper.
The article talks about the dangers of popular games, games that could open up the possibility of your child being targeted by a predator.
Games like Musical.ly, Roblox and even Minecraft can leave your child vulnerable.
Here is the article from The Age: 'They're getting in through our computers': Predators using games to groom kids:
Have a read, then check what games your child is playing on their mobile device/s.
Always remember that devices that may only be used as a 'toy' could provide an open door through which a predator can enter their life and yours.
If you have a child who uses Snapchat (which is rated as a 12+ app in the iTunes App Store), you should be aware of a new feature that appeared in this week's update to the app.
After the update is installed, the user (e.g. your child!) will be asked if they would like to use the new 'Map' feature, which will allow them to see their own location and that of their friends on a Map.
Read the article below, then make sure you check that your child is not giving away their location - even to friends. You just never know who might end up on their 'friend' list!
Related Handy Hints and Articles
A question asked at a recent 'Keeping your Kids safe on the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch' session at a local primary school was "What effect does the limiting of Safari content in Restrictions on the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch have on 'Private Browsing'".
The question relates to the feature of Safari that allows you to put your Safari browsing into a 'private' mode', where the history of your web browsing is not retained, and no 'website data' or 'cookies' are allowed.
During term 2 of 2017, iTandCoffee is running free school information sessions for parents. These sessions are on the topic "Keeping Kids Safe on the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch".
We look at the specifics of how to use the in-build parental controls on these devices to restrict what kids can do and see.
Each time we run this session, there are questions that arise about specific apps that kids are using.
Below are some answers to some of these questions. (Thanks to the parents who have turned up for these sessions!)
I saw an article this week that I want to share with other parents out there. It is about an app that is targeted at children and is gaining in popularity, but that could easily expose children to online predators.
The app is called Roblox - it allows players to create the "ultimate virtual universe powered by the imagination."
Apparently, it has 30 million players each month - many of which are young kids.
Read this article, then I'm sure you'll want to check your child's device to see if they are using this app.
Thanks to Francine and Bernadette who emailed me about this article from News.com.au.
It describes how a 'games site', one that comes up as top result in Google when typing the simple phrase 'funny games', includes all sorts of games to entice kids. But it also includes 'sex games' and other nasty content.
When I clicked on the top search result (as shown in the image below), I must say that the page stood out immediately as being quite 'dodgy', as the 'League of Angels' game image looked like something from an adult website (and not a kid's website). (These images change each time you refresh the page, so the image is not always as racy as the image shown here.
The good news is that Parental Controls that filter adult content WILL block this page.
So, there is another good reason to get those Parental Controls set up - here is how to do this on iPad/iPhone, and on Mac.
Related articles from iTandCoffee
Two quick videos that show how to restrict 'adult' websites on iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch and on a Mac
Here are a couple of videos that show how to set up 'parental controls' to limit what websites kids can access on an iOS device and on a Mac.
These two videos are included in another blog article this week (Here's a word you should consider typing on any computer, tablet or smartphone your child (or grandchild) uses ...), but I figure it is worth pulling them out into their own article for those who don't read the other article.
It is really very quick and easy to make a simple change that can stop inappropriate content from popping up in Safari on your child's device.
Instructions for restricting websites on an iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch (7.9MB, 2m13s)
Here's a word you should consider typing on any computer, tablet or smartphone your child (or grandchild) uses ...
Here's something that every parent should try on any computer, tablet or smartphone that a child uses.
Before you actually do as I suggest in this article, there needs to be a warning. You may find yourself needing to avert your eyes in disgust. And make sure no child is looking over your shoulder when you do this.
Let's back-track a minute, so that I can explain why I want you to do something that might cause you disgust.
Curiosity, when mixed with Google, can be very dangerous
An article that I have just read has once again re-enforced a concern I have long held over the whole issue of keeping our young children protected from dangerous online content.
Today’s article in The Age covers a topic that has been previously highlighted previously in this blog, about how early contact with pornography - especially online pornography - can ruin a person’s childhood, teen years, and their adult life.
It is not enough for me, as a concerned parent, to ensure that our own home internet is protected from inappropriate content, and that devices used by children have parental controls in place.
My own child will never be safe from dangerous online content unless other homes he visits have the same sort of protections in place.
As is so often the case, 8 year old boy described in the article had his first encounter with pornography on a computer at a friend’s house.
Sadly, there were no protections from this content at his own home either - allowing his obsession to grow.
Please read this article and consider what parental controls exist in your own home.
Even though you may consider your children are currently too young and innocent for this to be an issue, I firmly believe in closing that gate before the little horse bolts through it.
This is so important - not just for your own kids, but for the other children who come to your home. Remember, you may have secured your own family’s devices, but another child’s device may not be secured. Your best bet is to ensure that parental controls exist at the router level so that ALL devices connected to your internet are protected from dangerous content.
This is a matter for grandparents to consider as well. Are your grandchildren protected from unsafe content in your own home, and on your own devices.
Here is an article that I previously published, about how I achieved this router-level control in our own home.
If you need any help securing your home internet or devices, contact iTandCoffee on 1300 885 420 or at email@example.com.
Following up on yesterday's post about the dangers of the app Musical.ly (see Is your child using this app? Frighteningly, it is a new favourite with tweens), I have gathered up some recent articles that warn about the apps of whicht parents need to be aware - especially if they appear on primary school aged children's and younger teenagers' devices.
Read up parents, then check your kids' devices to see which ones they have!
Keeping kids safe on the iPad and iPhone
iTandCoffee is offering a FREE 1-hour session for school parents, called 'Keeping Your Children Safe on the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch', for schools in Boroondara and surrounds (ie within a 10km radius of iTandCoffee's Glen Iris shop).
This information session provides vital information about how to use the Parental Controls features of the iPad and iPhone (and iPod Touch) - controls that so many parents are not even aware exist. Many other 'cybersafety' classes do now cover the specifics of how to set up and use these features on Apple mobile devices.
If you would like to request this session be run run at your own school (or want to check if we can come to a school that is a bit 'further afield'), click the below button and fill out some details. We will then be in touch about arrangements.
If you would like to come to a class on this topic at iTandCoffee, keep an eye on our Class Schedule for details of when this class will next be run. Or contact iTandCoffee at firstname.lastname@example.org
This week, I was visited by a very distressed client.
Her 11yo daughter was an avid user of an app on her school iPad - an app that so many of her friends are also using.
The app is called Musical.ly. Apparently its use is spreading like wildfire among young children, especially girls.
It is an app that allows kids to records videos of themselves singing, lip sync'ing and dancing. They then share these videos on Musical.ly - so that their 'followers' (who you would hope are just their friends) can see their work. In turn, the kids follow others who post their own videos. They can post comments on the videos they watch.
In allowing their daughter to install this app, the parents had checked the age rating (12+) and decided to allow the download. After all, 12+ seems like a very safe rating for an app - so it must be designed for kids (one would think).
After creating the child's account, they had gone into the settings for their daughter's Musical.ly account and set it to 'Private' - meaning that only 'friends' could view the videos their daughter would post.
They thought this would be enough to protect their daughter while using this app - that this would mean that the girl's videos. They also discussed with the child the importance of only following and being followed by true friends - people she knew is real life!
The trouble with apps like Musical.ly
The trouble with Musical.ly is that you cannot stop a child's profile photo, name and 'bio' appearing for the whole world to see! So, anyone scanning the list of Musical.ly users would easily see which users are young kids.
As can occur with many apps like this one, this child received a 'follow' request from someone that she did not know - someone who appeared to be a cute young boy who was, co-incidentally (!), exactly the same age as the girl. She had accepted his invitation, despite her parents' warnings.
This meant that this 'boy' could see the various videos the child had recorded - sometimes in her school uniform, sometimes in PJ's, and sometimes with her little sister.
Direct messaging in apps like this
What the parents also did not realise is that the Musical.ly app has a 'messaging' feature built into the app - one that allows Musical.ly users to chat with each other in 'private' conversations.
So this 11yo girl had been chatting with this 'boy' over a period of time - during which time, the boy had provided his iCloud email address and suggested that they continue their online conversation via the Messages app instead of Musical.ly. The girl agreed and initiated an Messages conversation - meaning the 'boy' now had the young girl's email address.
It was only when a teacher noticed the child using Messages during a class - and then noticed the tone of the Messages conversation - that alarm bells went off and the parents were alerted. The school was that concerned that they contacted the police.
It's frightening how far this could have gone
In the Messages communications, this 'boy' had been trying to get the 11yo girl to Facetime (ie video chat) with him. He was trying to help her work out why she could not seem to find the Facetime app on her device.
Luckily, this girl's parents were very proactive in 'locking down' features such as Facetime on their children's i-Devices, so that the children have to ask for permission to use this app. At other times, the app is completely inaccessible.
This may have saved this child from an experience that doesn't really bear thinking about.
While this 'boy' may have actually have been an 11yo 'boy', it is highly likely this was an online predator.
Do your kids use Musical.ly?
Musical.ly is supposed to be restricted to 13+ users, and users aged 13-18 are supposed to require parental approval. However, this all means nothing - since anyone can set up a Musical.ly account, and no birthdate is requested.
If you do allow your kids to use Musical.ly, be aware that making the account 'Private' is not enough. Make sure in settings that the 'hide location info' and 'only friends can direct.ly me' settings are On (green).
Their photo should not be included, and any name/bio information should not identify their sex or provide an indication of their age.
Unfortunately, there is no way of stopping kids from changing these settings to become less 'private' - since there is no 'parental control' aspect to this app.
Personally, I would not allow any child under 13 to use this app. For young teenagers, I would suggest close monitoring of any use of the app and any 'followers' in their list that are not real friends.
Want to read more about Musical.ly?
Here is an article containing similar warnings to above, which I found while assisting this iTandCoffee Client.
As this article states, make sure you download and familiarise yourself with any app like this. It is critical to ensure you fully understand what the app involves, and the risks to which you may be exposing your child - both in terms of content and potential predators.
Do you need help or advice
iTandCoffee can help. We offer classes and private appointments, to help parents navigate the tricky area of how to keep their kids safe online. We can also help you with issues around setting up iPad and iPhones in a family environment (including sorting out issues with iCloud!).
Email email@example.com or call 1300 885 420 for further details.
Last Saturday saw iTandCoffee present an iPad information session in the north-west Victorian town of Hopetoun, at the annual Women On Farms Gathering - a wonderful event where farming women gather from all over Victoria.
One of the keynote speakers at this event was an amazing women and author who hails from a small town in that region - Fleur Ferris.
She has written a novel, titled Risk, which is targeted at teen girls. It is about the dangers of the online world - how a young girl can be so easily 'groomed' by online predators and, potentially, put herself at risk.
She spoke at Saturday's gathering about how the book culminated from her own experiences as a police officer, paramedic, and neighbour of someone whose daughter was directly impacted by this dangerous world.
She has three young daughters, and wanted to find a way to educate and protect them from harm.
The book is now a best-seller in the teen category, and is being translated into several different languages. It is also appearing on the English curriculum in some schools.
I would highly recommend buying this book for your teenage daughter (and perhaps son) - and even reading it yourself, so that you too are aware of the dangers our kids face.
As the control-freak mother that I am, I like to do the occasional 'audit' of my 12yo son's school iPad. In particular, I want to ensure that there has been no inappropriate content accessed from Safari or downloaded to his iPad.
(I know. He is so unlucky to have me as a mother!)
Did 'Limiting Adult Content' really do the trick?
I have already set up his iPad to 'Limit Adult Content' in Safari and set him up as a 'child' in my iCloud Family, who has to 'Ask to Buy' when he downloads any apps from the App Store. Restrictions are in place to limit any apps he sees in the App Store to 'age appropriate' apps only.
With all this, I was fairly confident that nothing too bad would be found when I did this audit this week.
I had a look through his web browsing history to see what sort of sites he had been accessing. There were a LOT of YouTube pages accessed in Safari. I had not put the YouTube app on his iPad, so Safari was his only way of accessing YouTube content.
Most of what I saw fairly tame - some fairly crude 'boy-stuff', but not too bad.
But I have to say that I was very shocked at a couple that I saw. One was an animation, first showing a male having genetalia hacked off (with lots of animated blood), and then a woman being mutilated (again with lots of animated blood). While it was only an animation, it really was very sickening to watch.
Now, I don't know if he actually watched the full video, and I don't know if he only accidentally stumbled across it. But it made me realise just how much inappropriate content and appalling language is still able to be accessed on YouTube - even when you have the 'Limit Adult Content' control in place.
Restricting a particular website is sometimes also necessary
So, I added an extra restriction to his iPad, to cut off access to the YouTube website in Safari - at least until we could have a conversation and work on some rules and expectations (again) around future YouTube use.
I was surprised that, for the few days that he had no YouTube access, I had heard no complaints!
When we finally had our 'mother/son' chat last night, I found out why.
'Ask to Buy' may not stop unexpected apps appearing your child's i-Device
To my surprise, I discovered that, when he found he didn't have access to YouTube through Safari, he simply downloaded the YouTube App.
How could this have been allowed? Hadn't I had set him up as a 'child' Family member when I set up this iPad, so that he would have to ask permission for any purchases/downloads? I checked - and yes, I still had in place the 'Ask to Buy' setting in Settings ->iCloud->Family.
How was he able to download the YouTube app without me giving any permission?
He told me that he found the YouTube in the list of Apps that have been purchased or downloaded by me.
Here's the trick. As a family member of our iCloud Family, he could download any of my (or other family member) Apps without asking permission, and with no notification to me as the 'parent' in the iCloud Family.
This morning I have looked into this further and realised that, if he had bothered to try, he could download many other apps that are registered as 'purchased' against my iTunes account - including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Kik Messenger, etc etc - all the apps that I specifically DON'T want him using at this stage, especially not on his school iPad.
In the App Store, these apps are all rated as 12+ or 4+ apps, so fit within the 'age restriction' I have set up in Restrictions.
Oops. Drat. The iCloud Family was not working the way I intended, especially when the family member is a fairly tech-savvy 12yo boy.
An extra 'restriction' to apply when you set up iCloud Family for a child
The good news is that there is a solution for this.
The apps that you have purchased/downloaded previously, but don't want your child Family member to download, can be 'hidden' so that they are no longer able to be seen in the list of your previous purchases.
This will prevent your child from downloading them without your permission or knowledge.
Apps can be 'unhidden' again if this is ever needed (for example, if you should need to re-download to your own or another device).
So, today I will be going through the list of Apps listed against my iTunes account - and against other family member accounts - and 'hiding' those that I don't want appearing on my son's iPad.
A 'handy hint' on the topic of 'hiding' and 'unhiding' apps will be published soon, so keep an eye out for it in the iTandCoffee Newsletter.
Have you set up any Parental Controls on your own child's i-Device? iTandCoffee can help.
The topic of how to set up 'Parental Controls' on an iPad (or iPhone, iPod Touch) will be covered on Friday March 4th at 9am at an information session being held for Glen Iris Primary School parents (in the school library). We will also look at this issue of 'hiding' and 'unhiding' Apps.
Glen Iris Primary School parents can book here to attend this session.
If you would like a similar session run at your own school, or are interested in attending a class on this topic at iTandCoffee, call 1300 885 420 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
One-on-one assistance is also available if you need it. It is not easy to understand all the setup that is required.
Read this article - then make sure you block adult content on your child's (and your own) iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch and computer
I saw this article in The Age today (Sunday Feb 7th) that really made me think about how much more easily kids today can gain easy access to damaging material - perhaps causing lifelong damage, as described in this article.
The SMH.com.au article talks about how just one early contact with pornographic material (through the Playboy magazine) opened a child's eyes - far to early - to adult concepts and sexuality. This was at a point where the child was too young to understand that what she saw was not representative of healthy male/female relationships.
Back then, it was not quite so easy for a child to gain access to pornographic material, so less came in contact with such damaging material at an early age.
These days, it can be as simple as opening their Safari app on an iPod Touch, iPad or iPhone - or perhaps on mum and dad's computer - and typing in some words.
Perhaps these words have been heard and not understood at school. Our kids are tech savvy at a young age, and can easily Google to gain the answers to questions they don't want to ask someone else.
What has been seen cannot be unseen. This article really rams home this reality and the potential lifelong impacts of what has been seen at a too-young age.
At iTandCoffee, we are passionate about educating parents about how to keep kids safe on Apple technology - iPads, iPhones, iPod Touches and Macs. We want to close that 'adult content' gate before the horse bolts - because it is too late then.
The 'Keeping kids safe on iPads, iPhones and iPod Touches' class is run on a regular basis at iTandCoffee (at 34 High St Glen Iris, Vic) and is next scheduled for Wednesday February 10th, 10am-12pm.
If you have not set up parental controls on your child's device, please come along and find out how easy it is to protect your own child, and any other children that might also use your family's device/s.
Bring this iTandCoffee class to your school
If you are interested in bringing this class to parents at your child's school, call iTandCoffee on 1300 885 420 or email email@example.com.
We are only too happy to present this class to parent groups in schools or other venues. Special discounted pricing may apply depending on the location and the number of attendees. Talk to us about this.
Yesterday, I spent a couple of hours with a friend, helping her set up school iPads for two of her children.
There is such a long list of things to do when setting up your child's school iPad, and we both marvelled at how the average parent would be able to complete this list of setup tasks without assistance!.
I am waiting on the delivery of my son's school iPad, and will be going through the same list of tasks when it arrives.
So I figured it would be worth writing down the list, for myself and for others who need to do the same thing over these next few weeks. (Please note that this is intended as a checklist, and does not include the 'how to' of every step. iTandCoffee can help with this if anyone gets stuck!)
Don't forget to do the same setup on their iPhone too (if they are lucky enough to have one).
One of the topics discussed amongst the Mums at the iTandWine evening on Friday 6th Nov was how to control what the kids can watch on YouTube.
One of the mums bemoaned that, even though she had set up Restrictions on her son's iPad to stop any inappropriate websites in Safari, this did not cover the YouTube app - which was still able to show highly in appropriate content to her 8yo.
You can actually utilise a 'parental controls' setting in YouTube to restrict the type of content that can be viewed.
Here is the article that was published early September on this very topic, with a link to an article that gives instructions for different types of devices.
If you are interested in attending a 'Keeping kids Safe on iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch' class, email iTandCoffee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Call 1300 885 420
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