iOS 12 brought about a number of changes to the iPad, an important one being the moving and renaming of the Restrictions, which used to be easily accessible under Settings/General. In iOS 12 you can still set restrictions on an iPad, but you will now find them under Settings/Screen Time. There are a number of ways in which you could limit your child’s screen time and access to specific apps if you wish to do so. Screen Time especially is a really a nifty feature for parents. It also allows you to switch off features that you do not want your child to use such as FaceTime or Message. Take note that Screen Time is not an app, it is a setting or a selection of settings.
There should be a differentiation between school screen time and free screen time for fun. School screen time is directed and led by the teachers and results in the child moving away from the iPad screen to interact with others, write or apply themselves elsewhere during an activity. It does not comprise endless hours of looking at a screen without activity. School screen time encourages engagement with the screen, written work (possibly), specific apps and peers. It serves a definite purpose. Screen time for fun is the activity that needs to be monitored and this is left to the parents’ discretion.
To find out exactly how to set up Parental Controls on your child’s iPad, take a look at this YouTube VIDEO and this explanatory Apple article.
iOS 12 will be released later this month. I have looked at the new and improved features that are available and some of them look impressive. The one new feature that really caught my eye is the new Screen Time feature which will enable parents to monitor their children’s screen time. It can also give parents a breakdown of exactly which apps their children have been using and for how long. Parents can also set times for screen time and children can request more if necessary. Screen Time certainly looks useful for parents who are struggling to manage their children’s screen time at home.
For more information on the new features in iOS 12 and especially Screen Time, take a look HERE.
For a detailed explanation of how to set up Screen Time on your child’s iPad, take a look HERE.
We all know that children love to play games, especially those on their iPads. Unfortunately the reality is that these games can (and do, in our experience) become a huge temptation and a sometimes a hindrance. In fact, they can also become a point of conflict in the home.
As a school we have asked our parents to provide an iPad for their children to use as a tool for learning. The parents manage the Apple ID’s and have full control of the iPads. We realise that, as a school, we have no say over what is downloaded onto the devices. While we did consider this, we cannot and do not want to dictate to our parents what they may or may not download. There are also some very educational games for the iPad and children can benefit from these too. We do not allow games to be played before of after school, and no iPads may be used at all during break times. We want our children to socialise and play with each other – these are important skills for a growing child. This is all part of our aim to encourage responsible use and management of the iPads by our students too.
So then, how does one overcome the games issue? At a Parent iPad workshop held at our school recently, we shared the following advice:
- Limit the number of games (our recommendation is 6 games only, if you allow them at all). Games can be rotated.
- It is also acceptable to disallow games until you feel your child is responsible enough to manage the iPad. You have been asked to purchase the device as a tool for school, not for entertainment.
- Set limits for screen time at home (distinguish between school work and fun time). There are apps to assist with this. (Screen Time on the iPad since iOS12 and Our Pact)
- Discuss this with your children and involve them in the decision-making process.
- Model acceptable behaviour. Is it acceptable to expect children to adhere to screen time rules when their parents are glued to their own smart phones?
- Stick to your decisions – this applies to the use of social media too. You are the parent, your rules apply. Be consistent.
If you are experiencing strife in your home about the amount of time your child spends playing on the iPad, consider the above points again and see where you can make changes. It is far easier to set firm boundaries and relax them a little at a later stage, than to allow a “free-for-all” and then try to pull in the reins when trouble rears its head. We have in the past heard complaints such as “This iPad is the bane of my life!” from one or two parents, and then when we make further inquiries, it is actually the parent management that is at fault, not the iPad. We have also seen student iPads where there are four or more screens of games – no wonder the temptation is too much to resist and the iPad is running out of storage space!
Parents, we urge you to make informed decisions. Make use of websites such as Common Sense Media to guide you in your decision-making. Read all school communication pertaining to the iPad and stay abreast of age restrictions. Take note of the amount of space games take up, especially on 16GB devices.
The iPad is a powerful device, an incredibly flexible tool for learning in the most creative of ways. Let’s work together to make this a happy experience for all.
Managing our children’s screen time and getting the balance right is an issue that many parents face. Today I came across a blog post about an app that might just be what parents are looking for to assist them in managing their children’s devices and to train their children to manage their screen time effectively.
Read OurPact Helps Parents Manage Their Child’s Device Use and take a look at the app in more detail here.
OurPact (Take note it is an iPhone app for iOS, but is also available on Android).