This post was originally posted on Kidgrade.com. It has been edited a bit for this blog.

 

I recently watched a story on our local news about several parents being shocked to get huge credit card charges on their iTunes accounts. This is due to the fact that their young children are playing games on their iPhones and iPads and making in app purchases. One child managed to rack up a $1400 bill. How is this happening? When you download a game and put in your iTunes store password the session stays open for 15 minutes. In this time kids can start a game and rack up the goodies. It takes only a couple of clicks for a child to purchase extras for games such as the Smurfs, Zombie Farm, and more. In the case of very young children who cannot read, they do not even realize that they are spending real money. They just click the button and its done. My girls both have one of my old iPhones. They use They are 8. I have laid out the rules that they cannot download an app or make in app purchases without talking to me first. But, even though they know this and I trust them, I went one step further. I enabled parental controls on their phones.

Enabling parental controls gives me peace of mind while my girls are bouncing around like teens dancing with their iPhones. This prevents any accidentally *bad* content viewing.

Here is how:

1. First, make sure that your iPhone or iPad is updated to at least iOS 4.3 to get the new parental control features. I actually recommend uploading to iOS 5 which is the latest, if the phone (iPhone 3Gs or iPhone 4) or iPod Touch can handle it. To check your version, click on Settings–>General–>About on your iPhone. You will see Version halfway down the page. You can easily update by hooking up your iPhone to your computer and running iTunes.

2. Once you are updated, on your iPhone you can go to Settings–>General–>Restrictions. Click on Enable restrictions and set a passcode to be used to unlock items. I recommend turning off Installing Apps, Deleting Apps, iTunes, and In-App Purchases. This way your kids will not be able to purchase anything by accident. You should also change the “Require Password” option to immediately. This is so that if you do use your password to download an app it will time out right away and be required for the next download as well. The main complaint from parents was that the password was staying in memory for 15 minutes, which allowed kids enough time to wreck havoc on their parent’s iTunes Store account bill.

3. You can also change the Music & Podcasts Rating to turn off the allowance of Explicit lyrics. Other options depend on how much freedom you want to give your children to download items. If using them you can set options for movie ratings, TV show rating, and app ratings. Using these few simple options will make it so your kids will not surprise you with any big bills and they will have safe, fun iPhone or iPad play.

 

Follow these few simple steps and you can rest assured that your child is browsing safe on your (or their) iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad. Of course, this does not protect them from wrecking havoc on them by dropping, slobbing, throwing… Ok, let’s keep this at happy thoughts. 🙂