Monday, December 28, 2015

Setting Up An iPhone For Kids

In an attempt to both limit our children's data consumption and teach them responsibility, I came up with the following settings for the iPhones in our house. This will get you a phone that is somewhat locked down both in purchases and cellular data consumed.

Over the years Apple's IOS has gone from an "it just works" product to something that can be quite complicated to setup. The goal of this checklist is NOT about privacy or security, it is more about limiting data consumption as much as possible so we don't blow out our data plans. If you have questions, leave a comment below and I'll update as I can. This is current as of IOS 9.2

Limit Cell Data:

  1. Prevent as many applications as possible from using data in the background while the device is off or other applications are active. If it is an application I want to stay up to date all the time or won't function without this features (Nike Running), I'll turn it on. Almost all applications I have turned off. Be sure to turn off any high bandwidth apps (SnapChat, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) Go to Settings - General - Background App Refresh and disable as many applications as you can.
  2. Prevent as many applications as possible from using your location. I do this mainly for battery life as too many apps want to track you and use the GPS in the background. It's creepy and a waste of my battery. Again, I turn off as much as I possibly can and I turn off almost all background use. Settings - Privacy - Location Services. From here I change almost every app to either "While Using" if the app needs the GPS or "Never" if it doesn't. Some apps just don't need to know where I am. On my phone I have changed every application to either While Using or Never except the Weather App.
  3. A few more location tweaks. I go to Settings - Privacy - Location Services - System Services and disable Location-Based iAds and Frequent Locations because again, creepy. I also change Settings - Privacy - Advertising - Limit Ad Tracking to On and hit Reset Advertising Identifier.
  4. Next up is limiting cellular activity. Since most apps have already been disabled in the background, this is about stopping some apps from using cell data when you launch them. For instance, our youngest has limitations around certain apps (YouTube, NetFlix, etc.) to teach her the difference between wireless and cellular. One is free and one can cost a lot! Go to Settings - Cellular and scroll down to the "Use Cellular Data For:" section. Disable away... Lastly, I turn off Wi-Fi Assist at the very bottom. Again, this prevents confusion and headaches of a bunch of cell data being used without your knowledge.
  5. Lastly, make the following tweaks to prevent unwanted/unknown use of cell data: Settings - iTunes & App Store and turn off Use Cellular Data
Require Password to Purchase EVERY time
  1. This assumes you have an iPhone 5S or later with the fingerprint reader, if not use this as your guide.
  2. The finger print reader is cool because you can use it in a bunch of place, including the iTunes Store. I have everyone's phone set up to require authentication every time because it makes them think do they really want to purchase this (they pay me for anything they buy). Go to Settings - TouchID & Passcode and enable TouchID for iTunes and App Store. Scroll down and change Require Passcode to Immediately.
Configure iCloud to BackUp and Find Your Phone 
  1. While no one tries to break or lose their phone, it happens... Because of this I make sure everything on everyone's phone is stored in iCloud. This way if the device breaks or is replaced, everything can be recovered pretty easily. To do this go to Settings - iCloud and purchase the 50GB iCloud backup plan. It's .99 month, don't be a cheapskate... (On a sidenote, some may have one Apple account for all devices, others have different accounts for everyone and set up Family Sharing. I have a link to setting this up here. Either way, purchase enough Cloud storage for everyone)
  2. From Settings - iCloud - Photos enable iCloud Photo Library and enable all the rest of the options (Upload to My Photo Stream, Upload Burst, iCloud Photo Sharing). I set our phones to Optimize iPhone Storage
  3. Not that your Photos are backed up in the cloud, let's back up all your phone applications and data. Go to Settings - iCloud - Backup. Make sure iCloud Backup is enabled.
  4. Find Your Phone is next. Your kid lost their phone in the house somewhere but no idea where, this is a life saver. Settings - iCloud - Find My iPhone. Enable Find My iPhone and also Send Last Location.
  5. Test Find My iPhone. From another phone, download Find My iPhone and login to the iCloud account used above. The device should display the location as well as the ability to Play Sound, Enter Lost Mode or even Erase the Phone
Bonus: Make Sure iMessage and FaceTime are set correctly
  1. Have you ever received an iMessage or FaceTime from one of your friends but instead of their phone number, it shows up as an email address? I have no idea why but every once and awhile, Apple seems to change this setting. If you change the default address to your phone number you are much more likely to be recognized in everyone's address book.
  2. In Settings - Messages - Send and Receive scroll down to "Start New Conversations From" and select your cell phone number.
  3. Repeat this for Settings - FaceTime - CallerID and select your cell phone number.
Bonus #2: Apple Music Streaming
  1. I honestly haven't disabled this one because it hasn't been an issue in our house but Apple Music does offer Apple Radio and music streaming which can use data. If you don't want this for your kids, go to Settings - Music and disable Use Cellular Data and High Quality on Cellular.
Bonus #3: Optimize Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter for Cellular
  1. As mentioned by Josh Atwell in the comments, you can also disable autoplay of Facebook and Twitter videos to further minimize data consumption. A lot of folks do this for international travel in particular but great for kids as well
  2. From the Facebook App (not Settings), go to More - Settings - Account Settings - Videos and Photos - Autoplay and set to On "Wi-Fi Connections Only"
  3. From the Twitter App (not Settings), go to Me - Settings Cog (looks like a gear to the right of your profile picture) - Settings - Video Autoplay and change to "Use Wi-Fi Only"
  4. From the Instagram App (not Settings), go to profile (right most button on the bottom), click on the gear in the upper right to access settings, Cellular Data Use - Use Less Data
  5. From the Snapchat App (not Settings), Tap the Ghost icon in the top center, tap the gear (Settings cog) in the top right, scroll down to Additional Services and click Manage, Turn Travel Mode to On


Josh Atwell said...

Since Facebook (and Twitter) is one of those applications that people still want remotely I have learned to turn off the auto-play of video content.

Facebook app --> Settings --> Videos and Photos --> Autoplay set to On Wi-Fi Connections Only

Twitter app --> Me tab --> Settings cog --> Select Settings
Set Video autoplay to 'Use Wi-Fi only' or 'Never play videos automatically'
Turn off Image Previews

When traveling internationally I learned that this little setting can kill a plan when browsing while on a subway/train/taxi. This let's youngins still use the apps while keeping the data consumption down. This obviously requires some responsibility still of course.

Wait a second. Are you blocking access to your blog so they don't go in and learn all the settings you turned off so they can turn them back on? :-)

Aaron Delp said...

@Josh - Brillant comment and I didn't have that set, adding it to the list for sure.

As for them setting it back, we have a trust but verify policy in this house. I audit every once and awhile and any changes brings down the hammer (which has happened).