Technology is constantly evolving. The powerful tool in our hands has  become a necessity not only for communication but for everyday needs…and entertainment, of course! We’re constantly learning about what we can do with our devices either from our friends and family or online. We know it can get overwhelming as there is no shortage of information but where do you start? For families, you may be interested in learning that Apple just launched a new Families page on Apple.com to help parents access resources all in one clean and easy to navigate space.

Many parents I’ve spoken with don’t even realize Parental Controls, or Restrictions, on Apple have been made available soon after the iPhone was introduced into the marketplace. (You can find them under Settings>General>Restrictions).

Yes, we hope we’ve instilled a sense of responsibility in our children with their devices but with peer pressure, or just plain curiosity, kids can be tempted to wander where you’re not comfortable with. Parents can monitor and manage without having to be constantly nagging their kids…or sneaking around to find out what’s happening. Whether your parenting style is completely hands-on or at an arms length, I’ve found these resources and tools easily accessible and useful for monitoring needs.

Here are some handy tools on the Families page…

WHERE ARE YOU? I know a number of parents who have set up Find My Friends locations mapping on not only their kids devices but their own. That way, family members can keep track of where everyone is. This tracks distances and travel times as to where each person is. A safety feature we love as the kids may be en route home from school or a friend’s house and would most likely  have their iPhone in their backpacks. They many not get to respond to your texts immediately so it’s peace of mind.

ASK TO BUY:  Kids are really quick to jump on the hottest content, gaming apps and social media platforms, not to mention opportunities for in-app purchases. When you set up Family Sharing on your devices the  Ask to Buy still gives your child the choice but the request first has to be approved by the main family member set up in the Family Share. This includes requests for purchases in iTunes, iBooks, App Store, In-App purchases or even iCloud storage. Can be set up on iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

 

SAFETY ON THE THE INTERNET: You can set devices to limit adult content or even only open websites that you’ve approved and have selected. There’s also a way to install special web browsers that are designed to display kid-friendly content only.

THE APP STORE: There are millions of apps available and how do you know what’s appropriate for kids? The Kids Section is your first stop for appropriate content. Not only are they created with younger kids in mind, but Apple has reviewed each app on the list. But did you know that if you go into your restrictions, you can also set an age range on your child’s device. With that handy tool, you and your children, can focus on what’s content that is designed specifically for their age.

A quick glance in the App Store give you an overview including a suggested appropriate age audience, ratings and even a quick understanding as to what type of game it is. For example, Clash Royale has been advertised on television and pop-up ads and the graphics look friendly. A quick peek before even downloading tells me that it’s okay for kids over the age of 9, and it’s received great ratings as well as recognition for ‘Editors’ Choice’. What kind of game is it? Clash Royale is listed as a game of strategy. Glancing through the info I also see that Apple has included a note to tell me that while the game is free to download and play, there are in-purchase items  available. It also does also remind me that I have an option to disable in-app purchases. This prompting is really handy for us parents! By the way, if you’re looking for clarification on what types of in-app purchases are out there, I found this link to be handy: types of in-app purchases.

For parents of teens you will want to link to the link below to set up Do Not Disturb. This handy tool will temporarily mute messages, calls or notifications that are distractions when driving and reinstates them when the driver reachers their destination. Good for drivers of all ages, actually!

Here are some quick links for you:

Learn more about parental controls on iOS

Learn more about parental controls on macOS

Learn how to set up family sharing

Learn how to create an Apple ID for your child

Learn more about Apple and Education

Learn more about Apple and Privacy

Learn how to set up Do No Disturb

Aside from helpful tools, did you know that Apple offers in-store learning workshops for everyone from kids to adults as well as educators? These are great if you have a couple hours and want to learn something new or how to get the most out of your devices by learning a few tips and tricks.

You’ll want to check out Today at Apple to see what programs are happening in the various locations near you. I’ve gone to a few  few creative learning and lifestyle sessions including how to use draw and paint on the iPad as well as discovering how to make music on GarageBand.  Grandparents have gone in to learn the basics on how to use their devices and the kids in my family have learned how to make iMovies and iBooks at Apple’s free workshops and camps. Yes, I said free! For budding coders of all ages, there are sessions to get you started on learning how to Coding with Swift Playground .

Now that the weather is getting better, you may want to check out Photo Walks where specialists take a group outdoors and see the world through iPhone while learning how to take the most stunning images. I’m interested in their Activity & Wellness hands-on session where their creative team will share ways to set goals, what apps are great to pair with my Apple Watch and how to even build a playlist  that’s the right beat for my activities. Anyone want to join me?