Wednesday, November 7, 2012

iPad Restrictions: Parental Controls for the iPad

I had an interesting conversation with a parent this week.  Her child was using their iPad to watch funny YouTube videos and in the process ran across a video that was not appropriate for a ten year old.  She, of course, was concerned and her first consideration was to install spyware on her child's iPad.  I don't personally believe in this approach, even if I do understand the concern.  However, in order to be informed myself and able to talk to parents about this type of issue I did a little research.

There are several "spyware" programs out there that cater to the iPad.  After reviewing them I realize that many of them (if not all of them) require you jailbreak your iPad.  This is not an option for anyone that has Apple Care as the warranty would become null and void immediately if you jailbreak your iPad.  But there are ways parents can have some of the control they may need or crave.

First, if the child's iPad is WiFi only, a web filter is a great thing to use.  I have suggested that parents who have iPads contact their internet service provider in order to see is they provide this service.  There are also other web based services such as OpenDNS that could be employed in these situations.  These types of options do not require you to install software on any of your devices and anyone using the wireless at your home would be under the same restrictions as the child (although there are override codes adults could use).

Second, there is the restriction settings on the iPad that can be set by an adult.  If you go into the System Settings of the iPad and tap on "General", you will see the word restrictions on the right hand side of the screen.  Tap that in order to set up restrictions on the iPad.  See my video below for this process. Changing the restrictions on an iPad is a good way to help filter the information a child might access from the iPad.  For example: you can set the age restrictions for movies and TV shows on the iPad.  This could prevent the child(ren) from renting inappropriate movies and shows from iTunes.  You can also set music to not allow sexually explicit material and Siri to ignore explicit language.  Basically, there are a fair amount of options here.

This solution does not solve my original query about filtering YouTube  but after a little looking there is one thing you can do in order to filter YouTube videos on a computer.  This solution works on both the iPad and any other device that uses a web browser to access YouTube   The downside to this is that in order to be thorough  you would need to repeat the filter process on every browser on the device.  For example, if you turn on the filter in Safari on the iPad, but not the "Google" app (which is also a web browser).  In order for the filter to be turned on in both web browsers, you would need to go through that process on each browser individually.

Here are your steps in filtering YouTube:
  1. Open the browser and go to
  2. Log in to  If you don't have a YouTube or Google account....get one.  They are very useful and required for what you are about to do.
  3. Scroll to the very bottom of the page.
  4. Change to "Desktop" mode by clicking on the word "Desktop" (blue text) in the bottom right hand corner of the page.  What we are looking for doesn't show in the default mobile view.
  5. Now that you are in "Desktop" mode, scroll back down to the bottom of the screen.  you will see several YouTube options in black lettering.
  6. Locate the option for "Safety" (you should see the word "off" next to it with a down arrow)
  7. Tap on the down arrow next to the word "off".
  8. Select the "On" radio button
  9. Tap "Save"
  10. Logout
Now that you have turned the YouTube filtering on, it cannot be turned off on that browser unless it is turned off by someone logged into YouTube as you (which is why it's important to log out when you are finished).  Don't forget, this is only good on each browser this process is completed in.  

This process does NOT work on proxy browsers such as Rover and Photon (browsers that allow you to view flash content by using a "proxy").  The YouTube browsing experience through one of these browsers isn't as nice as a standard browser, so reduces the "fun" factor for anyone choosing to view YouTube that way.

I would be interested to hear about what other people are doing to filter and secure iPads for kids.  Please feel free to leave a post with any of your ideas or you can email me at  More information about iPads, including iPad video tutorials, can be found on my website at

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