With the iPhone's capacity to help you enjoy media anywhere you are, it was only a matter of time before questionable material made its way to the iPhone. I'm sure that brought joy to some people, but if you are a parent who bought an iPhone or iPod Touch for your child for Christmas, the day you saw apps offering pictures of "hot sexy girls" featured right next to "Bejeweled" and "Tap Tap Revenge" you probably turned white as a sheet. And to top it off, for the longest time there was nothing parents could do about it. No real parental controls existed for the iPhone. However, with iPhone OS3, Apple has righted some wrongs and put control back in the hands of parents. Here I will show you how to set up parental controls for the iPhone app store.
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Things you need
- An iPhone
- iPhone OS 3 installed
Go to Settings > General > Restrictions on your iPhone.
Tap the "Enable Restrictions" button at the top of the page.
Enter a 4-digit passcode. Make sure it's not something your child can easily guess like a birthday. (It's too bad you can't do letters and numbers. A 4-digit number could easily be cracked by an industrious 10-year-old with a couple of free hours on their hands.)
Scroll down to the bottom of the page and choose "Apps." You can set all sorts of restrictions such as blocking Safari or YouTube use, but for this tutorial we're focusing on the App Store.
Tap on an age and a check will appear beside it. The blocked ages will be in red.
On the Apps page you will see settings that correspond to age. Each iPhone App developer is required to assign an age rating to their app and this is where you'll choose a maximum age rating for apps that this iPhone can download. You will notice that currently everything is allowed.
*Note: If your goal is to block the "sexy girl" apps, 12+ is not enough. You'll have to go down to at least 9+ (you can also block installing apps all together).
Now that the age rating is set, any attempts to download apps with a higher age rating will be blocked. It's important to understand that searches are not blocked. If a search is done for the word "sexy," all the apps are still viewable in the results. However, on the app description page the button to buy/install is grayed out and any pictures previewing the app are not visible.
Hit the "Report a Problem" button at the bottom of the apps description page and let Apple now what's going on if you find an offensive application that has passed through the ratings system. It even has a choice for "This application is offensive."
Remove the App Store icon all together by switching the "Installing Apps" option to Off on the restrictions page if the age restrictions are not strong enough for you. Then you could choose to just install the apps for your children instead of having them do it.
Tips and warnings
- If your child cracks your code and seems hell-bent on fighting you every step off the way, remember that you can always check the App purchases for the iTunes account used for the iPhone to see what they're up to. Ultimately, the best thing to do is always talk to your children.