What's the best filter I can use for IPod touch for my child?
January 26, 2016 8:27 AM   Subscribe

I will be getting my child an IPod Touch and my only concern is her access to the internet. We have wireless internet at home and from reading about the IPod Touch I understand she will have access to the internet. So do any of you have experience with a really good filter for that? I want it so that nothing inappropriate will pop up.

Also, I know they are about 200 dollars and then suddenly saw that the Kindle Fire is only 50 dollars. I must be missing something as to why an IPod touch is so much more money than a Kindle Fire. I mean, neither one is a phone, but they can play music and can have apps, so can you tell me what I don't see?

Thanks you.
posted by lynnie-the-pooh to Technology (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You can use Restrictions to make it so she can't have access to Safari or YouTube. You can also prohibit her from being able to download anything from the App Store, making in app purchases, etc. (You could also just turn off WiFi on the device, but I don't think you'd want to...)

If you're going to give her access to Safari, then limiting content is trickier, as far as I know. YouTube Kids can help limit access to inappropriate videos. (Depending on how you feel about, e.g., Katy Perry, which my kids were watching last night on YouTube Kids.) There are some limitations you can also impose by turning on`restricted content'; it's not clear if that's enough for you.

If she's older, and you have an iPhone/other iOS device, you might want to set up family sharing so that she can request apps but then you have to give permission for them, and so you only have to buy apps once for the family. One thing to be aware of is that In App Purchases don't share across family sharing, so if there's an app where there's an important in-app purchase (e.g., all the lessons in UTalk), then in order to share that purchase across devices, then you need to switch to the iTunes account of whoever made the in app purchase long enough to restore the purchase in the app of the other person. (For example, I buy daughter 1 Crayola Fancy Nails in app purchase, and the other daughter wants it too. Daughter 2 installs the app, I log out daughter 2, log in as daughter 1 , restore the purchase, and then log out as daughter 1 and re-log-in daughter 2.) (Yes, both daughters have old iPhones.)

In terms of Kindle Fire vs iPodTouch, that's a personal choice depending in part on what features you want (the apps aren't the same, the operating system is different) and what other devices you already have. (If you're an android house, maybe you don't want the iPod Touch; if you're already a mac/iPhone house, maybe you don't want to introduce an android? device...)

(And you can read kindle books on an iPod Touch.)
posted by leahwrenn at 8:46 AM on January 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

The Kindle Fire is priced as a loss leader. But I wouldn't consider the Kindle's hardware and software of the same caliber as the Apple product.

That said, I've heard from other parents that the Fire tablets have very good parental controls built in so that's something to investigate.
posted by LoveHam at 8:46 AM on January 26, 2016

Response by poster: Thanks so far to the two people who replied. My daughter is 11 and I do know that she wants the Star Wars app and she wants apps from I-tunes, so I think I'll for sure get the Ipod touch. We do not have Iphones or smart phones of any kind in our home...my husband and I have flip phones. I know, we are ancient but that is why I'm asking here, because we are trying to learn. This "in app" thing I will have to investigate because I had not heard of that.
posted by lynnie-the-pooh at 8:58 AM on January 26, 2016

The iPod Touch has built-in restriction settings which you can use as parental controls to limit access to apps and web sites by rating, or disable web access and other features completely.

Compared to the $50 Kindle Fire, the $200 iPod Touch has twice as much storage (very important if you are using it to store or record videos), a larger catalog of high-quality apps, much better cameras, a higher-resolution screen, faster processor and networking, and probably better build quality (more durable). The Kindle Fire also displays ads (“special offers”) unless you pay extra to turn them off.

For a kid’s device, these extras might not matter. If your child will use the camera a lot, or wants to talk to friends using Apple’s FaceTime and iMessage apps, or needs other iOS-only apps, then the iPod might be worth the extra money. If they are just using it to play music/movies/books (and a few games), then the Kindle Fire might be a better choice.

Apple often has refurbished iPods for significantly less than the new ones.

(Unrelated to price, the Kindle Fire devices are also significantly bigger than the iPod Touch. The iPod Touch has a four-inch screen—the size of a small smartphone—and will easily fit into a pocket. The cheapest Kindle Fire has a seven-inch screen and a slightly bulky design, making it closer in size to an iPad mini.)
posted by mbrubeck at 9:02 AM on January 26, 2016

This "in app" thing I will have to investigate because I had not heard of that.

From Apple: (just because it's faster than typing)
"In-app purchases are extra content and subscriptions that you can buy in apps on your iOS device or computer.

Not all apps offer in-app purchases. If an app offers in-app purchases, you see “Offers In-App Purchases” or “In-App Purchases” on the app page, near the Price, Buy, or Get button. On iOS, you also see it mentioned below the title of an app."
I always look at what the in app purchases are before I agree to download an app.

So, there are a lot of games/apps that are free to download, but then they want you to purchase extra content/stuff.

Sometimes this is totally benign: you get to play the first three levels of the game, but then you have to pay for the rest of the levels, or a coloring game where you get 5 free coloring sheets, but then you have to buy the rest of the packs.

Sometimes, this is pernicious and evil: you are playing a game to collect cats, and if you *spend real money to buy fake in-game coins* you can use those coins to buy stuff to attract the cats. Or you get 3 free hints, but after that you have to pay for hints. Ugh. (Apple calls this sort of purchase "consumable" in the linked document.)

The rule in our house is that we will never do in-app purchase for that kind of consumable thing, and that before I allow the kids to download this sort of free app (there are a lot that are entertaining enough even in the free mode without buying the 'power pack' or whatever), they need to agree that *they will not ask* for the in-app purchases (and that they already know what the answer is!)
You'll want to borrow your kid's iPod Touch (or whatever device) for a week or so and play around with it, and learn how the App Store works and stuff. Or ask to play around with a friend's phone, maybe, just to get some familiarity with whats going on.

You can always delete apps you've bought from the phone and then re-download them if you decide you want them again later.
If there's an apple store near you, you might want to consider setting up an appointment with them to discuss parental controls and in general how iPod Touches work, and if setting up an appointment doesn't work, you can even see what happens if you just drop in.

They can get you totally squared way about how all this works, with you getting to use an actual device.
posted by leahwrenn at 9:17 AM on January 26, 2016

Personal Setup at the Apple Store
posted by leahwrenn at 9:19 AM on January 26, 2016

if you have multiple devices you want to set up, you might take a look at Circle. I've been reading good reviews, although I don't have personal experience.
posted by dpx.mfx at 10:31 AM on January 26, 2016

I've had some success with OurPact, which lets you remotely manage an iPod or iPad. You can preset times that the device is usable, or grant time in blocks, or any combination of the two.
posted by JoeZydeco at 10:38 AM on January 26, 2016

I'm a 100% Android person. I have a Kindle Fire (Black Friday $25 sale) and it sort of sucks. There are ads all over it. It is far slower than my phone or any other device I own. I barely use it, to be honest, except to prop up in the kitchen for a reference for cooking. My kid would go crazy about the speed on the Kindle. Despite my Android-ness, my 7 year old has an iPad because it is far more kid friendly (and basically fool-proof) and I am confident that it will last for many more years than any of the Android tablets. His is a few years old and it can still run all the popular games. There are all sorts of parental settings. I'd strongly suggest going to the Apple Store if you're not familiar with the interface. They are really nice and can walk you through all the settings.
Honestly, I'd suggest getting her an iPad versus an iPod touch. An iPad can do so much more in terms of being a real device. She's going to need it for homework, right?
posted by k8t at 11:35 AM on January 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Indirect answer to your question: with an 11-year-old, your Internet strategy probably needs to be a little bit more robust. The fact is, children can and will access 'inappropriate' content no matter what parents do, and it might be by accident or it might be intentional. It might happen at your house. It might happen at a friend's house. Posters with older children may have more elaborate ideas, but here is what I would do:
- Start having frank conversations with your child about how to deal with content she may find online and that things she reads/sees online might not be "real" or "authentic" or "a true reflection of how the situation is" (think pornography here) and that it is important for her to be skeptical about the content that she comes across.
- Have parental settings on the device that are age appropriate.
- Have parental settings on your router if possible.
- Have a policy about the device needing to be used in "public" spaces (living room) versus "private" spaces -- although I totally believe that an 11-year-old girl needs privacy, so others may have different thoughts here.
- Have a policy that parents need to have all passwords for sites and the passcode for the device.
- Have a policy that parents will randomly check in on social media sites. (Not sure on this one, but I think that this is standard.) And then you actually do this every now and then.
- Have a policy that social media friends must be other children she knows at school/activities or relatives and that she is to never befriend a stranger on a social media site or any adult that is not related to her.
- Have the iTunes app store credit card be a temporary card - like a gift card - so that you can control the amount of money on there and not have to worry about in-app purchased.
- Have parental/family controls over any apps that she wants to install. On my son's iPad this means that a parents gets a email that child wants to install app X.

Your local community or library may have a class on tech policies for kids that would be useful.
posted by k8t at 11:46 AM on January 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

Others have covered other aspects, but if you want to set filtering at the router level, OpenDNS is a good option to do so. Here's a link that goes over how to configure it.
posted by bluloo at 11:56 AM on January 26, 2016

Here's a link on some technology safety policies for ages 11-13. It includes a contract which seems like a really good idea.
posted by k8t at 12:02 PM on January 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

We turned Safari off on my kid's hand-me-down iPhone, but I didn't want her to have no access to the web at all, so we installed Mobicip. I've been pretty happy with it so far. She can access useful stuff easily, but the filters seem pretty robust.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:08 PM on January 26, 2016

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