Although the Apple iPad is one of the best toys for autistic children, you do need to be careful to set up the parental restrictions before you let your child play with it. On your iPad screen, find the icon called settings. It’s a grey box with gears in it. Open up settings and look for the word “Restrictions” on the right towards the bottom. It will say Off on the right. Tap on the Off and it will move you to a screen that has Enable Restrictions on the top. Click on Enable Restrictions. It will ask you to create a 4 digit passcode. Once you have set the passcode, your restrictions are active..
Now you need to go through each choice and decide what you want to allow your child to do. I’ll take them in the order they appear, so it will be helpful if you have your iPad open to the settings page as you read.
The first set deals with programs your child can have access to.
Safari: This one will allow your child to access the internet. I go ahead and allow that for my kids because I have other settings below that will restrict the content they are allowed to see.
Camera: This one will allow your child to take pictures with their iPad. If you fear your child may want to take inappropriate pictures, disable this. That’s probably a good idea for slumber parties.
FaceTime: This will allow your child to participate in video calls with other Apple users. Some families find this very useful in working with their autistic children. Others don’t.
iTunes: I always disable this unless I am right there with my child. If they can go to iTunes, they can see all sorts of apps and music that they are going to want to buy. Even if they can’t actually buy anything because of other restrictions you are going to set up, they will pester you mercilessly.
iBookstore: Same as iTunes. I just disable it to stop the begging for more stuff.
Installing Apps: If you disable this, they can’t install any apps without your knowledge. Even if an app is free, I want to look at it before it winds up on my child’s iPad.
Deleting Apps: I recommend disabling this to prevent your child from deleting apps either accidentally or just to irritate a sibling. (I learned this the hard way. Deborah has a cruel sense of humor when it comes to bugging her younger sister, Jenny.)
Siri: Siri is a voice recognition program that will allow you to speak and have the iPad do things for you. If your child can’t speak, obviously turn it off. If your child has problems with motor skills, it might be helpful. For more information on Siri, go to http://www.apple.com/ios/siri/siri-faq/. If you allow Siri, it will ask you about explicit language. I certainly don’t allow that.
The next section deals with allowed content and this is where you can really restrict what your child can see on the iPad. Basically, you go through each line and set the correct ratings for your child’s age and maturity level. Set the Ratings For line for the correct country. Then decide if you want to keep it clean by not allowing explicit themes. The set the movies line to the correct level for your child. If you click on PG, for example, it will allow PG and G movies only. The same thing goes for the TV shows. For Books, you’ll want to turn off the explicit sexual content so you only get clean books. For Apps, I keep it conservative and stick to their age, but you decide.
The last two lines in this section are very important: In-App Purchases and Require Password. Unless you are extremely wealthy, you will want to turn In-App Purchases to OFF. Most apps will continually ask you to buy more stuff (coins, embellishments, added features, etc.) and kids have no sense of what things cost. As an added protection, I also set the Require Password line to Immediately by tapping on where it says 15 minutes. What this means is that every time you try to make a purchase, whether inside an app or not, you have to provide your apple ID password.
For everything in the Privacy section, I lock changes out. I do this to ensure that your private information is kept away from apps that request it. Some apps ask for your contact list or your photos. Don’t let them. I don’t even let Facebook have access to anything. Children under 14 aren’t allowed Facebook pages anyway and I don’t want mine advertised through these game sites.
For the last two sections, Allow Changes and Game Center, you’ll need to decide how much freedom you want your child to have. I don’t allow my child to mess with any of my accounts or she may delete valuable information. I also don’t allow multiplayer games or adding friends, but you may want to if you are comfortable with who your child is adding or playing with.
With the right restrictions in place, you can safely let your child play with his iPad. It is one of the best toys for autistic children.
© 2013, Margaret. All rights reserved.