It’s hard to decide whether or not to give your child a mobile device.
It’s hard to decide when your child may be ready to have his or her own iPhone.
It’s hard to decide whether or not to give your child a tablet, old phone, an iPod, iPad, or computer.
I’m not here to tell you the exact when or where–that’s up to you and depends wholly on your family’s situation.
But I’ll tell you this: you’ve got to think through the decision–the whole thing.
Because, my friends, it’s a different time, and if you don’t 110% think through the decision, you will be sorry. Though there’s so much good out there–there’s also so much bad. Gross, awful, and nasty.
And it’s our job as parents to help our kids walk gracefully through–or past–it.
I’ll be honest: I struggled to figure out how to properly set up our devices most safely. It took time, but I am hoping it’s worth it.
Hoping that my sharing here will save you some serious time.
Here’s the skinny. . .
How to Set Up iPhone for Family Sharing:
Our family has a mad mix of both Android and iOS devices.
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Here’s the breakdown:
- me: iPhone and MacBook Air;
- husband: Android and iPad Air;
- Maddy: iPhone 5S;
- Owen: Samsung Avant Android (not used as a phone but used as game-playing device); big iPad;
- Cora: MyTouch Android (not used as a phone but used as game-playing device); mini iPad.
We also have:
- HP Touchscreen Chromebook;
- Acer Chromebook;
- Kindle Fire — we all use these devices for games and schoolwork;
- HP Envy e-5540 all-in-one-printer.
I’ve talked about our Screen Time Tickets — the system of managing Maddy, Owen, and Cora’s screen time so that we wouldn’t go crazy. It worked for us for a long, long time.
But they’ve definitely aged out of it.
Maddy is 12, Owen’s 10, and Cora is 8 years old, 9 in just three months.
We used Gem Jars for a while, and we tied gems into screen time. But they’ve aged out of Gem Jars a bit, too.
So we’ve moved more toward a relaxed system where we:
- have one day a week totally and completely unplugged- our ‘unplugged Wednesday’;
- allow kids to come home and get on devices for 15 minutes after school, to wind down and relax a bit. Owen usually checks his Fantasy Football, Maddy and Cora check email;
- give the kids time to be online. After homework, I may say, Okay–you have until 5pm to be online. After that, you’re off. And honestly, it works pretty well. At one of our last Family Meetings, the kids requested that we try this system, and it’s been working well.
- charge all of our devices in one happy, little spot each night: the Satechi Charging Station Dock with a few Android micro USBs and Apple micro USBs.
I finally decided on setting up iOS Family Sharing for several reasons:
- I can monitor the kids’ whereabouts with the iOS Find Your Friends feature;
- We all have our own iCloud accounts but can share music, photos, movies, and books;
- I like that each person can create his or her own contacts that will then follow them on whatever device they log into;
- I wanted each child to be able to use and practice iMessage on the iOS platform–and because many of the kids’ aunts, uncles, and grandparents use iOS, I know we can all be in group chats together;
- I wanted the kids’ friends to be able to Facetime them;
- We have 5 iOS devices in the house, and Maddy just got an iPhone;
- With WebSafety, I can even more closely monitor what happens on each device, with each child.
Is Family Sharing for you? Check it out. Learn more. Decide–because it’s got to feel like a good fit.
Here’s how we have set up Family Sharing for our iOS devices and how you can too:
Believe me, it’s a bit time-consuming, but you can–and should–set aside an hour to do it for your kids’ safety.
1. Log into your iCloud account on your device. If you don’t have an iCloud account, create one: www.icloud.com.
2. Make sure you have a payment method set up in iTunes. You may have to put in your credit card. It’s annoying, but just do it.
3. Now, set up iCloud account for each child.
Head over to your child’s device and log into your iCloud account.
- Go to SETTINGS -> ICLOUD -> click on FAMILY
- ADD FAMILY MEMBER -> Create an Apple ID for a child
- Enter BIRTHDAY -> AGREE to Parent Privacy Disclosure ->
- Verify Payment Method by entering the 3-digit security code on back of card ->
- Enter child’s name ->
- Create Apple ID (I used the same as the kids’ gmail address) ->
- Create Apple ID password ->
- Create Security Questions ->
- Ask to Buy: YES ->
- Share Child’s Location with Family: YES ->
- Terms and Conditions: Agree
4. Set up your child’s email on the device. If your child has a gmail account, you want to merge the gmail account with the iCloud account. That way, all friends who have the gmail account can very easily connect with the child using that account.
- Go to SETTINGS -> Mail, Contacts, Calendars ->
- Go to iCloud.com on your browser.
- Sign into your child’s iCloud account.
- Go to Manage Account.
- Go to Account -> Edit.
- Add an email address.
- Click Done and sign out.
5. Set up Messaging and Facebook on your child’s device.
- Go to SETTINGS -> GENERAL -> MESSAGES -> SEND & RECEIVE and make sure that iMessage is activated for your child.
- Remove any accounts you do not want on this device. (My own account was on several iPads, so I removed it!)
- Go to AUDIO MESSAGES and VIDEO MESSAGES and make sure they never expire.
- Go to SETTINGS -> GENERAL -> FACETIME and make sure that Facetime is activated for your child.
- Go to SETTINGS -> PRIVACY -> LOCATION SERVICES and make sure that you have Share My Location enabled.
6. Go to the APP STORE and search for WEB SAFETY (WebSafety for Android / WebSafety for iOS).
- Download the WebSafety app onto the device.
- If you haven’t created a Web Safety account for yourself, do that now. It’s free. And awesome.
- Log in and register your child on your child’s device. That means, you’ll log into your WebSafety account and choose either ‘Protect this device and track activity’/ MY CHILD OR ‘Provide me notifications about my children’s protected devices’/ PARENT OR GUARDIAN.
- If you choose MY CHILD, you’ll add your child to this device.
- We have WebSafety added to Maddy, Owen, and Cora’s phones and iOS device that they use. It’s not because we don’t trust them; rather, it’s because we want to be aware of their online activities and because we love them and want them to be safe.
7. Almost finished! Promise. Now, go to iCloud -> SIGN OUT of your iCloud account on your child’s device.
8. Now, on that child’s device, sign into your child’s iCloud. This will mean that the child will kind of ‘own’ the device.
9. Enable Restrictions on the child’s device. (This. Is. HUGE.)
Go to SETTINGS -> GENERAL -> RESTRICTIONS.
- Enter a passcode that only you will know.
- Create restrictions for all that you want to manage. This is what we ALLOWED:
- Siri & Dictation
- AirDrop (on newer devices)
- iTunes store
- Apple Music Connect
- iBooks Store
- Installing Apps
- Deleting Apps
- DID NOT ALLOW In-App Purchases
- ALLOWED CONTENT:
- Ratings for: US
- Music, Podcasts & News: CLEAN
- MOVIES: PG
- TV Shows: TV-PG
- Books: RESTRICTED
- Apps: 9+
- Siri: RESTRICTED (did not allow Explicit Language / DID allow Web Search Content — but you may change this)
- Websites: LIMIT ADULT CONTENT
- Password Settings: REQUIRE AFTER 15 MINUTES
- PRIVACY: (This is a big one!)
- Location Services: DON’T ALLOW CHANGES / Share my Location: YES from THIS DEVICE with family / Go into each App that uses Location Services and modify accordingly. If it’s a device that will mostly stay home, then turn off Location Sharing for most Apps.
- Contacts: ALLOW CHANGES (I allowed this so that the kids can add their friends.)
- Calendars: ALLOW CHANGES
- Reminders: ALLOW CHANGES
- Photos: ALLOW CHANGES (I allowed changes here but removed photo-sharing from many Apps and games.)
- Share my Location: DON’T ALLOW CHANGES
- Bluetooth Sharing: ALLOW CHANGES
- Microphone: ALLOW CHANGES (I allowed changes here but removed from many Apps and games.)
- Twitter: DON’T ALLOW CHANGES
- Facebook: DON’T ALLOW CHANGES
- Advertising: DON’T ALLOW CHANGES
- Allow Changes
- Accounts: DON’T ALLOW CHANGES
- Cellular Data Use: DON’T ALLOW CHANGES
- Background App Refresh: DON’T ALLOW CHANGES
- Volume Limit: ALLOW CHANGES (But if kids are young maybe not)
- Game Center
- Multiplayer Games: ON (My kids like Minecraft and play regularly)
- Adding Friends: OFF
10. Now, create a Family Media Agreement.
And talk to your kids regularly about online safety, being online, and being a responsible cyber-citizen.
Talk about communicating effectively online. Set up texting groups with family members.
Monitor, monitor, monitor.
One of the best ways I’ve found to stay connected and on top of things? Being online myself.
If you want or need a start, here:
This post is part of our Digital Kids series:
Read more about raising digital kids:
- help kids start a blog
- analog twitter wall
- game design for kids
- get kids started with texting
- texting as a learning tool
- helping kids use powerpoint
- digital wellness
- beach learning
- keep kids safe online
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