Apple outlines security and privacy features in iOS, iPadOS and macOS to keep children safe online
Yesterday was Safer Internet Day, Apple marked it by highlighting some important security features to keep your children safe online. Here are some of the options that you can configure on your iPhone.
Child safety features in iOS, macOS and iPadOS
You may be aware that Family Sharing in iOS 16, iPadOS 16 and macOS 13 Ventura allows you to share your purchases, subscriptions like Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, iCloud storage, etc., with up to 6 people in your household. But it also lets you manage Parental Controls for your children's devices. Once you have set your own account as the family's organizer, you may invite your family members to form a group, or create Apple IDs for your kids who are under 13.
Parental Controls allows you to set content and privacy restrictions to prevent them from accessing inappropriate content in apps, books, TV shows, and movies. You may even choose to restrict your children from downloading and installing apps, removing apps, or from making in-app purchases in apps, games, iTunes, App Store and the Book Store. iOS 16 even offers parental control options to limit the use of built-in apps (Mail, Safari, FaceTime, etc) and features. The Family Checklist settings in iOS 16 is a handy place to manage your kid's Medical ID, location sharing, set communication limits and contacts, add a recovery contact, etc. It even displays reminders to update your children's settings as they grow older. Location sharing is particularly useful as you can track their device with the Find My option on your own iPhone.
(Images via Apple)
Screen Time as the name suggests lets you restrict the amount of time your kinds spend on a device. It has additional uses, such as displaying reports about your child's device usage, and has various options that you can toggle to set limitations on how they access their iPhone or iPad. Downtime for example can be used to block apps and notifications during specific hours of the day, which is sort of like a do-not-disturb mode, but mostly used to ensure kids don't spend too many hours staring at their phone's screen playing games, or watching videos.
Apple's article also underlines the importance of the Communication Safety for the Messages app, it is an advanced feature that that uses on-device machine learning, to detect whether an image contains nudity, and if it does the app automatically blurs the image. Then, it displays a warning about the content, explaining why it obscured the image, it also offers some ways to the child to get help, such as leaving the chat, blocking the contact, contacting a grown-up that they trust (such as a parent or guardian), or even emergency services.
It is an opt-in feature, it is not enabled by default because it scans all incoming and outgoing photos, and this requires consent from the user (parent/guardian). It drew criticism from privacy-minded users, but Apple has said that it does not have access to any media, i.e. they are restricted to the device's storage, and that end-to-end encryption is maintained for all messages.
Communication Safety debuted in the U.S, and was made available in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Spain and the U.K. Apple's announcement states that the feature is being expanded to more Countries around the world.
Apple is hosting a free class called “Your Kids and Their Devices.” The 60-minute session is available online and in over 500 stores around the world, and will educate users about the security and privacy options in iOS, iPadOS and macOS. Users can sign up for a session on Apple's website.Advertisement