If you have already nailed our 5 critical tips - pat yourself on the back, give yourself a gold star and go to the head of the class. You rock!
For everyone else we cannot recommend these tips highly enough, if you want to secure your child's iPhone or iPad and protect them from the prying eyes of hackers. As always these are just the tip of the iceberg - but you have to start somewhere.
Please let us know if you find them useful and share this page with your friends and family. If you any comments or questions please contact us.
1. Update the Operating System
You will occasionally see a notification on your device's Settings app. This can mean a few different things but primarily it indicates that Apple have made an update available to the operating system, known as iOS.
This will typically include all of the features and improvements to the current iOS, but most importantly of all the security patches to correct the flaws that have been detected.
What is more the device will only show this notification if the update is compatible with the device so do the decent thing; update your iOS.
This is the best way to ensure your device is up to date and protected. Whilst nothing in the world of software is guaranteed to work perfectly 100% of the time, Apple carries out exhaustive amounts of testing to ensure they only release the best quality products. For more help on updating your iOS go here.
Obviously this is not a one-off activity but something you need to do every time an update is available which is only about twice a year. We do not endorse Apple's products but would highly recommend subscribing to their newsletter to ensure you keep up-to-date with pending iOS features and updates; start here.
2. Set Up a Passcode
Goes without saying we know but believe it or not there are children using devices that have no passcode setup or at best they are using their date of birth.
Having a passcode is the essential first step to protecting your child's device, help keep their information secure and teach them child that security and data protection are critical in the world we live in today and tomrrow.
The default passcode setting in iOS is normally for a 4-digit numeric passcode, otherwise known as a simple passcode. You can extend this to 6 digits for slightly greater protection, but if you take device security seriously - or just want to be extra sure no one gets your banking details or personal information, iOS now offers more complex passcode protection.
Look for Passcode Options when you go to change yours.
With a complex passcode, you can pick one that includes letters, numbers, and special characters. What's more, a complex passcode can be much longer than just 4 or 6 digits. In iOS 11 we were able to enter over 50 characters without receiving a warning about having too long a passcode. This makes the task of someone guessing your passcode extremely difficult.
That said, you don't want to have to spend several minutes entering your complex passcode, hundreds of times a day so try picking something like 8 to 10 characters but do include CaPiTalS, numb3rs and sp*c!al ch#ract£rs.
Further help from Apple Support: Use a passcode with your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch
3. Enable Restrictions
Restrictions in Apple's parlance means so much more than simply controlling the content your child can view on their device.
Firstly, you have the ability to protect these settings with a simple 4 digit passcode which is different from the device unlocking passcode.
You should then decide if your child really needs access to Siri (see below), FaceTime, AirDrop, CarPlay; we suggest not in most cases. Then follows the same options for the iTunes Store, Music, iBooks, Podcasts and the News app; these are quite aged dependent but we would not recommend access to the News app as you simply cannot predict the content they will be exposed to but the increased in knife crime in the UK, mass shootings in the US and terrorist incidents does not make for happy reading.
Siri: much has been written about a hacker's ability to bypass a devices security using Siri, even as late as October 2017 people were posting instructions online. Apple obviously work hard to protect your data from malicious hackers but we strongly suggest that children do not need have Siri enabled.
Secondly, consider whether or not your children should be able to install or delete apps without parental involvement. We recommend keeping these disabled until you decide that an app needs to be deleted on installed from the App Store.
Most importantly of all and if you don't want to get a huge bill from Apple, disable In-App Purchases. If you need to know why just read these headlines; Daily Mail, Telegraph, Guardian.
Please do let us know if the links no longer work so we can update our site.
Thirdly, consider the content ratings for music, film, TV, books and apps that are appropriate for you child. Not all media or content creators correctly mark their content appropriately for the age of the viewer but this will most likely improve over time.
Finally, settle into your favourite chair with a cup of tea and work your way through the various Privacy options. These are critical in protecting yours and your child's data, location and access to major apps from the other apps installed on the device.
4. Mobile Device Management
If you have a company iPhone or iPad then it probably has a configuration that is controlled by your IT department. This is known as Mobile Device Management or MDM. Consider this for your children's devices.
We have listed a view options here but for our purposes the Our Pact app was selected - it's free and feature rich. Be wary of how much you end up paying each month for subscription apps - these can add up!
Norton Family Premier
MDM essentially means you as a parent have the ability to control your childrens' devices from your own.
The features in OurPact we love are the ability to control your child's access to the apps on the device (except the native Apple iOS apps. You simply setup profiles to switch off the apps during certain times of the day or week. Our Pact then magically makes the Apps disappear. You can also Grant or Block for a set time and control individual apps with rules. Plus there's a locator, places history, text blocker and safe web filter.
Oh and at the time of writing it's free - what's not to like?
Consider this little gem - your children could earn additional time to access their apps if they do chores around the house - win/win!
5. Customize the Control Centre
The Control Centre gives you immediate access to some really useful features but consider carefully if your child needs to have these activated.
Features such as the Wallet, Screen Recording, Music, Setting and unsetting alarms are all things that some of the more mischeivous children might take joy in messing with.
Why give them that temptation?
The Camera is one that may need more thought as it can be really useful if your child were to ask someone to take a photo of them and their friends rather than a selfie. With the Control Centre access to the Camera only the photos that are taken there and then are accessible - nothing that was previously taken and stored on the phone is visible.
While you're here there's a very, Very, VERY helpful feature for us adults and that's the "Do Not Disturb While Driving" feature - definitely one we recommend all our clients activate on their own phones.