If you have kids who use iOS devices, you know how frustrating it is that iPhones and iPads have long lacked the kinds of parental controls you want. New iOS 12 features that allow you to block apps and websites on iPhones and iPads are an improvement.
Still, there are limits on how much peace of mind you can have as a parent when you hand your kids an iOS device. Here's what you can and can't do with Apple's new Screen Time feature to keep your kids safe, and how you can go further.
The first step in unlocking Apple's new parental control features is to add your child as a new family member on your iCloud account.
Step 1: Open Settings on your iPhone or iPad, and tap your name at the top of the screen. This will take you to the Apple ID menu.
Step 2: Tap Family Sharing, then Add Family Member. Select Create a Child Account. You will see a disclosure explaining the child's account will be attached to your family until the child is at least 13 years old. Tap Next. (If you select 'Invite a Person', you just need to enter your child's Apple ID and password to initial the process.)
Step 3: Follow the directions. You will enter your child's birthdate, the security code matching your credit card on file for verification, and your child's name. Then you will create the Apple ID, create a password and choose 3 security questions and answers.
Step 4: Make sure 'Ask To Buy' is left on. This is the default, so all you have to do is not deselect it. Agree to the terms and conditions, and you're all set.
Now, when you open Screen Time in your Settings menu, your child will be listed. You won't be able to use the features until you set up your child's device, however.
If this is a new iPhone or iPad for your child, just go through the regular setup process. The difference now is that the ID you set it up with will be attached to yours, not independent like it was before.
Step 1: Turn on the new iOS device or reset it to start the setup process. To reset, back it up to iTunes first if desired, then go to Settings, tap General, then open the Reset menu. Choose Erase All Content and Settings.
Step 2: Follow the instructions for the setup process. Enter your child's new Apple ID, not your own.
You now have parental controls over your child's device you can access from your own, thanks to Screen Time.
No matter what web browser your child uses (Safari, Chrome, etc.), you can control what web content they can access via Screen Time.
Step 1: Open Settings, then the Screen Time menu. Select your child's name.
Step 2: Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions and enter your passcode. Turn this function on to unlock all your parental control options for apps and websites.
Step 3: Tap iTunes & App Store Purchases. In this menu, choose whether to allow/not allow installing apps, deleting apps, or making in-app purchases. It will require your password be entered for all purchases by selecting Always Require.
Step 4: Tap Content Restrictions. You will notice the default setting under Web Content is Unrestricted Access. Tap to open Web Content settings.
Step 5: To block/allow specific websites, tap Limit Adult Websites. Under Always Allow, tap Add Website to add sites you want your child to access. Under Never Allow, tap Add Website to add sites to which you want to block access. You can also choose to be more strict by selecting Allowed Websites Only. This will block any site, not on the list.
The Screen Time menu also allows you to set limits on the amount of time your child can spend on apps. You can also set up 'downtime' hour, when your child will not be able to access any apps except the ones you allow. You can also block all access during downtime.
This new parental control menu is handy if you want to block, or at least limit, your child’s access to video content and social networking sites and apps like Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube.
One of the advanced features of OpenDNS (domain name system) is web content filtering. This feature offers parental control services to block and filter individual websites on their children's iPhone or iPad. To emphasize an important point, only when the device is connected with WiFi network can this advanced feature be applied. Here is how it works:
Step 1. Go to Settings and click WiFi.
Step 2. Click "i" button displayed next to the connected WiFi.
Step 3. After that, change the settings of 'Router' and 'DNS' to the servers offered by Open DNS: 188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206.
Step 4. Now the content filtering feature can be used with OpenDNS for a particular WiFi network. To block a website, you need to register an account to visit the OpenDNS dashboard.
Step 5. On the settings page, choose the WiFi network that you wish to make adjustments.
Step 6. Tap on Web Content Filtering and select the filtering level, then click Apply and you'll successfully block the web content.
As great as the new Screen Time parental control features are, they won't help you determine what content your child is viewing.
As your children get older, they will want you to ease up on their restrictions. You can block sites again at any time with Screen Time, but how will you know if you need to? Screen Time only generates reports on how much time they spend online and on their apps. You will not know what they're actually looking at.
MoniMaster Parental Control, previously named Spymer, is a tool designed to make sure you have the ability to monitor what your kids are looking at online easily and remotely.
With MoniMaster, you can monitor your child's browsing history. You can see the bookmarks they have made on their devices. When you see something inappropriate, you can help them make better decisions and tighten restrictions as needed.
You do not need to install MoniMaster on your child's device. Simply download the software to your Mac or PC and connect MoniMaster to your family's iCloud account, and you will be able to:
monitor up to 18 types of data.
see the current location or location history of your child's device.
access all data, including deleted data, on your child's iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.
All from one easy user interface.
Being able to block and allow websites on iPhone and iPad is great, and Apple has definitely made it easier with iOS 12. But as your kids grow up, they will want more freedom. Keeping them safe will be less about blocking their access and more about talking with them about what they're looking at online. MoniMaster grants your access to your kids browsing history and bookmarks so you can have those uncomfortable, but important conversations. This tool is available as a FREE trial version for both Mac and Windows PC.