If iPads Were Meant for Kids

A couple of years difference in age can make a big difference. Why would someone assume that what’s appropriate for an eleven-year-old is also appropriate for a kid who’s eight or younger (I’m guessing the kid in the ad is supposed to be at least eleven)?

I don’t actually know how Android and MS perform in this respect (see my questions above), but I do wonder if part of these issues have to do with Apple not really wanting users to share iOS devices. iPads do not readily make separate accounts available and the OS is not intended to quickly switch to different user settings/permissions (think the old macOS Fast User Switching).

From what I understand Android tablets usually make this easier. I always imagined that Apple doesn’t want to make this too easy for regular consumers (FWIU they do have something like that for edu users) because at the end of the day they earn their money by selling iPads, not iOS licenses or ads, or auctioning off people’s privacy to whoever bids highest. They’d rather sell you a second iPad (maybe cheaper or older-gen, but second nevertheless) on top of your fancy iPad Pro for you to give your kid, than you just sharing yours with her/him.

I’m not at all sure about this, but I could imagine that these kinds of parental controls would be a lot easier to implement and use if iOS readily offered multiple user accounts and fast switching. If Apple doesn’t want that kind of FUS, they might have made parental control harder to realize and/or definitely less convenient to use.

In the 80’s, broadcast standards and the need to reach a mass audience kept the content to a certain quality and “family-friendly” level. And the cable channels didn’t veer too far away. But on the Internet, you can have everything. It’s definitely easier to find something you like, that doesn’t mean it’s easier to block something you don’t like.

BTW, TVs did, and still do, have mandated controls so those “silly markers” can prevent then watching of shows with, say, TV-MA rating.

I wouldn’t assume so. But I do know that when Steve was talking about how he would never have given his kids an iPad unsupervised, he was not talking about toddlers, he was talking about for example, an 11 year old.

That’s part of it, but not all of it. Each iPad is signed in to a user and each kid does have an Apple ID already.

It is totally obnoxious that there is no multi-user capability - they finally created the capability for the education market. It ends up being a good way for Apple increase their sales to a slice of their market. Our family has 4 iPads. We’d have 2 if they had user switching.

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That’s really the crux of it. You could have much better parental settings if you could designate a child’s account (cheap Amazon tablets can do this), but of course Apple knows that would mean selling fewer iPads. Apple is all about one person per device because that’s what sells units. Given Apple’s push to sell more iPads, I doubt that feature leaves the education market anytime soon.

I don’t disagree with your device sales points. But it has close to no impact on parental controls. As I said, each kid already has an Apple ID. Those IDs are part of the Family Sharing plan. One you have IDs, setting up user access controls is straightforward. Apple hasn’t done it, for whatever reason.

What features that a kid iPad needs? But this one i never would have done because my kids’ first exposure to computers always involved passwords and I disagree with not having them.

Of course, iPads have fingerprint sensors, so the need to enter a password is less frequent,

You can enable do not disturb.

Or you simply do not turn them on in the first place. You can also disable them entirely with Apple Configurator.

There is no Wallet app on my son’s iPad nor on my iPad Pro. Neither device has Apple Pay enabled either.

You can, though this takes Apple Configurator.

I’ve often wondered if it’s a RAM/resources issue, since Apple is infamous for including the bare minimum of RAM in devices (there’s barely enough for multi-tasking features in non-Pro iPads).

But since Apple has enabled this in the education market, it’s definitely sounding more intentional.

So: I have a 4.5 yr old. What I allow her to do is very different from what you might let a 6yr old, or a 10yr old.

We have very strict limits on what’s installed, and she pretty much uses it to watch PBS Kids, Netflix (with a profile) and amazon Prime (with a per device ratings lock). We haven’t even gotten to edugames or anything else yet.

She has this iPad because it’s the oldest spare in the house, and it’s just recently moved from an iPad 3 to iPad mini 2. We don’t let her use it for more than about 45 min.

Many of the points raised were dealt with, very nicely, by an MDM system called OurPact. It’s been hugely helpful. It took my non-technical spouse (wife as it happens) about 5 min to set up, and the basic, free version allows a single rule for a schedule, and on demand grants of time. It removes (almost) all the other apps when it’s out of time.

They have a commercial option, but for now, we’re OK w/ the free one, since she doesn’t read, and can’t really do much yet.

Commercial option allows allowance time, and some other more complicated options, and puts the apps back into the same location, supposedly.

Either way, not having to hide the iPad was a huge help. It just turns on the apps at 5pm, and off at 5:45, and that’s it.

Strong recommend. Not a log of options, but really solid, and it’s not a passcode they can break, since it’s MDM. If the iPad is online, it’ll pick up the rules.

Now: I’d really like more of the things mentioned in the article. Until then, there’s OurPact.

(Reminder: 4yr old. Not the same problems as a 6, 8 or 10yr old. Don’t have one, but… they’re wiley! I sure as heck was!)


If anyone would be interested in reviewing OurPact for TidBITS, let me know (or maybe Josh can do it, since his kid in the target demographic too). I’d never heard of it before, and it sounds like it could be a great solution for parents.

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I could probably do it, I’d at least be interested in trying.

Great, I’ll drop you a note in email and we can talk it through.

Quite possibly, but even then, you have to mean “I watch the screen the entire time my child ever uses the device.” You can’t even turn around nd for half a minute without running into some of these difficulties.

Apple Configurator is not designed for individuals and seems to be designed to to make it not for individuals. Furthermore it is poorly designed for the task for which it is supposedly designed. My take is that Apple has lost its software mojo and probably can’t program iPads to do what the author suggests is wanted.

So many great points here. I just complained on Twitter over the weekend (for it feels like the 50th time) that Apple’s Restrictions feature feels like it was designed for someone who’s never used it, or at least has never used it for a kid’s iPad.

A couple others I’d add:

A way to prevent iOS update prompts to ever appear, and require at least the Restrictions passcode to install updates. My kid’s iPad is running an older version of iOS because so many educational apps are still 32-bit and won’t run under the current OS. (Ask elementary schools, which often use older software that doesn’t get updated and can’t afford to buy new replacement apps, how much they like this change to iOS.) Yet she gets prompted every day to install iOS 11, and if she declines, she has to deal with the “Remind me later” screen that requires her passcode. When she was younger, before she understood that she shouldn’t accept OS updates, she installed an update I didn’t want – while I can restrict her from installing app updates, I can’t restrict her from updated the entire OS :headdesk:

A much better implementation of family sharing. When I want to install an app on my kid’s iPad, I have to:

  1. Disable app-install restrictions on her device
  2. Open the App Store on her device
  3. Find the app
  4. “Request” to install it
  5. Enter my daughter’s Apple ID password (it’s secure, so I have to go into 1Password on my device to find it and type it in manually on hers)
  6. Wait for the request to come to my device
  7. Approve the request on my device, entering my Apple ID password
  8. Go back to her device, enter her Apple ID password again (opening 1Password again on my device because I don’t remember it from five minutes earlier ;))
  9. Re-enable app-install permissions on her device

And if I want to, [DEITY] forbid, install multiple apps on her device at once, I have to repeat the above steps for each app. (Don’t get me started about things like restoring an iPad from backup. If it’s interrupted during app restore, you get prompted for the kid’s Apple ID password for every app. It’s easier to start over again.) I should be able to either push apps to the kid iPad, or enter an “admin/parent” mode that lets me do whatever I need to.

As a few people have mentioned, MDM systems can “fix” a lot of these shortcomings. My older kid’s middle school manages everyone’s iPads – if you use it at school, even if you own it, it has to be managed – and gives parents access to the MDM settings during non-school hours. It allows us to do many of the things Dave wishes iOS could do; iOS should have similar features built in. But normal people aren’t going to set up an MDM system, or even Apple Configurator, for their family devices.

Sure you can. When my youngest was younger we made great use of Guided Access to lock a specific app on the screen, and my wife uses this feature every day when teaching elementary school kids. She launches the app, locks that app, and hands the iPad to the kid. Without a PIN, the kid can’t use anything on the iPad but that app.

Well, I was thinking of the in-app purchase popups, eg for coins in a game. I don’t think you can turn that off, even in guided access. I could be wrong.

Settings =>General => Restrictions lets you disable in-app purchases.

Thanks! Good to know.