In the digital age, our involvement and guidance as parents and guardians is crucial in shaping our children’s online behaviour and ensuring their wellbeing. Configuring the parent controls on devices is a key factor in ensuring the online safety of children. Here, SARAH and BO from Tekkie Help talk through the steps to put it in place with Apple’s Family Sharing on Apple devices. They also highlight other important things to consider when it comes to kids, their online presence and apps for controlling screen time.
Using Apple Family Sharing and setting up controls
Apple’s Family Sharing feature enables you to create a secure online environment for your children while effectively managing their screen time. To begin, open the Settings app on your device and tap your name at the top. Then, select “Set Up Family Sharing” and follow the prompts to establish a family group. You’ll be able to invite family members and set their roles, such as Parent/Guardian or Child. During the process, you will need to set up Apple IDs for children under 13.
Once the framework of the Apple Family Sharing unit is in place, you can then configure the different controls, from setting screen time limits, communication limits and purchase controls, to configuring content and privacy restrictions, and setting up location tracking.
An added benefit of Apple Family Sharing is that everyone can take advantage of shared iCloud storage and shared purchases, and access things like family calendars and shared photo albums.
Of course, no parental control software is 100 percent effective. For instance, Apple’s Family Sharing works across all the child’s devices on the same AppleID, but this may not be feasible with a school device. A workaround is to set up a different AppleID for each device. Also, you can’t view search history for browsing, so we recommend regular browser history checks – or install a third-party Parental Control apps for controlling screen time such as Qustodio (which we recommend for Windows/ Android users).
Tekkie Help recommends 6 further steps to safeguard your children
#1 Education is key
Children should be made aware of the dangers of accessing the internet, social media, email phishing, cyber bullying and so on, and understand the importance of regulating screen time for their own wellbeing.
#2 Open communication
Maintaining open and non-judgemental communication is essential. Encourage your children to share their online experiences, both positive and negative. This creates an atmosphere of trust, making it more likely they will come to you with any concerns.
#3 Clear boundaries and rules
Set clear and firm boundaries and rules about device usage, and stick to them – for example, no device in the bedroom at night. You can also lead by example!
#4 Supervised usage and regular checks
For younger children especially, we recommend supervision of online activity and also checking the device browser history and messages on regular occasions.
#5 Retain access to devices and online accounts
We recommend a quid pro quo agreement whereby if your child has online accounts, you know the passwords (device, email, social media). With Instagram and Facebook, you can set up their accounts on your own device to check activity occasionally or if concerned.
#6 Network level controls
Home networks can be configured to provide added security to block certain content and help to manage device usage on TVs, PlayStations and other non-Apple devices.
Need help configuring devices or a home network to safeguard your children’s online activity? Tekkie Help can do it for you, or you can attend one of their training workshops.
This article first appeared in the October 2023 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!