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 Sharing 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'. Keep in mind that more than one member of the family may have previously purchased/downloaded the app, so it may have to be hidden in more than one place.
Watch the short video below to find out how to go about 'hiding' apps that you don't want the kids to have access to. This video also talks about how to 'unhide' any apps that you have previously hidden - which must be done using iTunes on a computer.
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.
Have you set up Parental Controls on your child's Apple mobile device/s?
Limiting your child's ability to purchase apps is not the only area of Parental Controls that needs to be set up on your child's device/s.
Can they view inappropriate websites and content from other areas of the device?
Are there any limitations on when and for how long they can use the device, and what apps can use up their mobile data?
Apple provides a comprehensive set of parental controls for devices, in the Screen Time area of Settings.
If you need help working out how to set up and use these controls, iTandCoffee now has a must-watch set tutorials for parents (similar to the video shown above).
This provides an excellent online alternative to attending our popular Keeping kids safe on the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, which we run regularly for parents at schools in Melbourne. (Bookings can be made here for your own school.)
Unrestricted access to the full set of these tutorials is available to our iTandCoffee Club members who have Plus, Online or Premium membership.
Non-members can purchase access by choosing Add to Cart below. Readers of this article receive a 50% discount on the price shown by using the coupon code 50OFF119 at the checkout.
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