It’s not Apple’s job to be a parent to your kids

I can understand how some parents would be upset if Apple didn’t have some kind of controls to limit the use of the iPhone and iPad, but the fact is they do.

I read Sarah Perez’s story on TechCrunch “Apple’s iPad Needs A Kid Mode. Like, Yesterday” and was kind of amazed at how much blame was put on Apple.

The simple fact is, as parents, it’s up to us to monitor what our kids do with technology or any toy. If you choose not to use the included controls because they are a hassle, then that’s your choice. You made that decision.

Apple’s built-in controls allow the parent to disable Web surfing, the ability to watch movies or TV shows, deny the ability for purchases including in-app purchases, you can even disable a child’s ability to install or delete apps.

Apple provides more controls than most of the toys our kids play with. What’s next, are we going to call Crayola because the kids colored the wall with crayons?

  • KvH


  • One thing I haven’t seen get enough play on iOS is “Guided Access” – you can, with a simple triple click of home (and a passcode entry), disable the home button, locking kids into the one app you hand to them. You can even highlight areas of the screen to block, preventing kids from getting to the smurfberry store, and more.

  • DanPierce

    It’s not a kid mode that iOS needs. It’s multiple user accounts. Because it’s inconvenient to have to turn all the restrictions on everything you had your kid the ipad.

    Of course, the best solution is to just not give your kid your ipad unsupervised.

    • I agree with you Dan if your kid isn’t old enough to understand Right from Wrong they shouldn’t have an iPad unsupervised… Why don’t techy parents just get the kids leapsters or whatever kiddy tablet ToysRus is selling nowdays. They could even keep it OG and go back to normal toys and let the kids be kids.

      • koopapoopas

        The Leapsters are educational.

        Some parents think that’s too hard on the kids.

  • When I was 7, my mother caught me calling some overtaxed service to be able to talk to Santa or something. She was so mad and angry when she found out, she slapped my bottom and gave me a good correction. I never did it again. She never sued the company of the service because I was stupid.

  • gjgustav

    I agree that it’s not Apple’s fault, but you can’t sit right beside your kids all the time – so when I can’t, then the kids don’t get the iPad.

    It sure would be nice if Apple remembered which restrictions I set after I turned them off. But it doesn’t – so when I turn them off so I use the iPad, I have to set them all over again when I give it back to my kids.

  • tylernol

    perhaps Apple needs to put some tutorial videos on their website on how to use “guided access” ?

  • It sure would be nice if undereducated kids weren’t the ones having kids in the first place.

  • Techpm

    Of course if Apple did make a kid’s corner the articles would be “Apple further positions iPad as kids’ toy, ignores pro users”

    • hannahjs

      Sigh…these days, Apple can’t win for losing…

    • Billy Henshaw

      Microsoft would sue the crap out of Apple if they made a Kid’s Corner just like on WP8. But this feature is needed to an extent on Apple products. Being a Microsoft person, i may perhaps be a little limited on my knowledge on this, but trust me, i can understand how unrestricted use can be frustrating. It just can’t be like Kid’s Corner on WP8 if Apple makes one. That is the dilemma.

  • Chris W

    My wife and kids share an iPad. It’s cumbersome in iOS 6.1 to switch between restricted and non-restricted use. It would not be hard for Apple to fix this.

    • Android has multiple users now, but not sure about the restricted use mode, never looked for that in my Nexus 7. IT would be nice in your case to have both.

    • It wouldn’t be hard for you to fix it either. I guarantee it’s a lot cheaper for you to by another iPad than what it costs Apple to re-engineer the OS.

  • Parents need to learn to be parents. No one really would hand a boy his dad’s Playboy and say, “Here, now just read the articles and don’t look at the pictures.” Lazy parents need a little owness.

  • Tom

    Part of the trouble is that despite all of the parental controls you list now, they were iterated into iOS, and not part of it’s initial offering (and thus, it’s image).

    Apple needed them, and they should have been there earlier (hence, the lawsuit). And now those are in place, there is clearly (as evidenced by the article and your response to it) not a general knowledge that such controls exist.


    This entire story has been pissing me off ever since it broke. It’s part of the larger “it’s someone else’s fault” mentality that has overtaken this country. And while I agree with those that say that iOS needs multi-user support, the lack of it still doesn’t let absentee parents off the hook.

    The iPad, iPhone (or any other computing device) is NOT a babysitter.

  • ort888

    While overall I do agree with your thoughts on the matter… it is true that there are several pretty easy things Apple could do to make their iOS devices more kid friendly.

  • GTWilson

    If it is D-Con’s responsibility to label rat poison, “Do not eat”, it’s Apple’s responsibility to maintain your child’s moral compass.

    I guess that’s the way it works.

    • mattack1

      Are you sure it’s D-Con’s responsibility to do that? It’s probably due to regulation.

      • itsgene

        Don’t forget the iPod shuffle ads, which reminded, in the small disclaimer type, that you should not eat iPod Shuffle. Sometimes I feel like we are living in the Star Trek universe, where high technology has been mistakenly given to cavemen. Now we know where the Prime Directive came from.

      • GTWilson

        Sadly, every product warning you see means someone has done that very thing and he/she (or surviving family members) has attempted to sue afterwards.

        Makes you wonder how we managed to evolve beyond the hunter/gatherer stage.

  • accidentaldesign

    I agree that it would be good to be able to save parental control profiles for quick activation.

    A great way to restrict your kids usage is to let them pick an app/game they want to use and lock it in with Guided Access feature. They won’t be able to leave that app unless you let them.

    This does introduce more nagging for you to change the app for them, but it teaches them to stick with a decision and learn a game. Most kids seem to constantly quit and launch games and apps, stick with none of them, and get into mischief.

  • It’s the dilemma of making something that non-technical people can use, then blaming them for being not technical enough to protect themself. It’s so easy to turn off In App Purchases… just hit the Settings icon, then General, then Restrictions, then Enable, then type a 4-digit passcode twice, then turn In App Purchases off. Oh yeah, that’s assuming you know there is such a thing as In App Purchases in the first place, and that you know you want to turn them off. I bet most parents discover IAP when they get a bill for it.

  • ” It’s not Apple’s job to be a parent to your kids”

    Why not? Isn’t it easier to abdicate your parental responsibilities to a multinational corporation and the app developers whose job it is to make money off your children?

    What’s wrong with expecting Apple and developers to bow to your demands and lack of ability to discipline/teach your children?

  • Parents need to be less whiny and act like grown ups. I’m really worried what the world is going to look like in 20 years with people like that as parents.

  • DMadrid689

    Yes it is

  • mattack1

    “to disabled Web surfing”

    Editing is needed!

  • Mathew Rice

    I typically find the comments in Loop posts to be witty, sarcastically funny or informative…, but the majority of comments on this post are ridiculous.

    Seriously, First world problems from whining parents of privileged children.

    I got 99 problems but apps aren’t one.

    Get a grip parents and face the music!

    Your ignorance is not someone else’s problem, it’s their revenue.

    There is a line in Sarah Perez’s article where she mentions having her kid to go outside and play.

    That’s where the article should have ended.

  • itsgene

    Astonishing how people are blaming Apple for things like ads in apps or apps pushing for additional purchases. Apple already has robust parental controls but it seems like people would rather blame them for their own parenting failures. This is like blaming your TV manufacturer because there are too many ads on TV. Or more to the point, blaming Dell because you clicked on a virus in a spam email.

  • T

    “Only after the apps are in the kids’ hands do they realize that wow, that app may not have been the best choice after all.”

    Is this parental laziness, irresponsibility, or both?

    “But now it’s the kid’s favorite new thing and deleting it would not go unnoticed. So the apps remain.”

    Who is in charge here?

    Take the 5 minutes after installing the app to see if it does the things you don’t like. Asks too much or makes it too easy to purchase things? Not intuitive enough for your child to use? Then it is not a good kids app to begin with! Delete it before your child ever sees it so they will be spared the apparent pain of you removing it later.

    This piece of “journalism” is ripe for a Macalope take down.

  • abis866i

    No, Apple’s job is to make profit…

  • hannahjs

    I did decorate the wall, not with crayons but with shoe polish. Black, it was! I was admonished, but that was the extent of it.

    In the old days nobody dreamt of suing the Kiwi shoe polish company, or excoriating its management, for the misuse of their products by children. A shoe brush to the backside sufficed. Lesson learned, social and emotional growth advanced.

    What is this world coming to?—I suspect, one in which everyday occurrences, however mundane, are recognized as valuable grist for the Internet mill, a veritable fountain of anecdotes to be appreciated by millions—and clicked on, to the enrichment of their authors—to a planetwide chorus of tongue-clucking.

  • Thank you.

  • blackmartian

    Man if i was that kid i would have been wipped to death lol parents are africans so you know what i mean

  • Someone really needs to get a dose of reality.

    Not all parents understand how to ‘monitor’ what their kids do. If a tech company, any tech company, can make this easier for parents then why not ask for them to do so? And yes, Apple has a certain responsibility to do this as their product is actively pushed as a tool/toy for kids.

    I can set up proxies and multiple user accounts with restrictions on what apps are available on my OS X based computers and let my kids run riot, but that’s not so easy on an iOS device. How do I restrict access to the messages app? How do I stop kids using my facebook app?

    You are forgetting the basic question that should be asked of any product, how can this be made better?

    • “Not all parents understand how to ‘monitor’ what their kids do.”

      Then those parent are going to be awfully disappointed when their kids hit junior high school.

  • Mergatroid 69

    I see so many comments here blaming the customer. Look if you are going to design a product that you know kids will be using, make the interface easy so that “your potential customer for life” doesn’t get any unecpected surprise. If Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD 8.9 can have these parental features, why didn’t Apple make theirs easy too, especially since Apple’s marketing entre is how easy their products are to use?

  • Its definitely not.

  • Someone should tell Apple that it’s not their job. How many apps has Apple rejected because they were playing parent?

  • On one level, I agree but I wrote about this a couple years ago: It was about Android but iOS was part of it too. The comments were interesting too.

    Mind you Apple has way better restrictions now but my point is it isn’t all about parenting. Apple has room to grow in this area.

    • Here is one thing adding restrictions does that’s bothersome (just noticed after son returned from spring break): it will delete your folders/change your Springboard so your device icons are now all over the place.


  • Steven Clark

    i agree with your posts guys but as a father to an autistic son who uses an ipad with an app called proloquotogo for communication i find it hard to understand why the ability to have multiple log ins is so hard to do. yes i can put the guided access on that one app that stops him from affecting setting etc but as his obsessions also including watching videos of trains and signs on youtube having guided access on means he cannot switch between the two and get frustrated when we have to change it for him each time. so what do we do buy him two ipads one for each of his favorite apps and put guided access on both? windows 8 phone users have a feature call Kids Corner where you can lock off your phones programs such as settings etc but grant access to apps you choose for your children to use why is this such an impossible feature to add to the iPhone, ipad and itouch?

  • jsh

    It amazes me how quickly people turn a simple request for a UI feature into a raging debate about parenting! This has nothing to do with parenting. It has to do with an adult having an iPad and handing it over to a child that can do little more than poke around on the screen with little or no understanding of what they are doing. It happens when I visit my nephews and they want to play with my iPad.

    The solution to this problem is already baked into iOS. It’s called Guided Access. It’s in Settings, but in the Accessibility section; not Restrictions. It allows you to restrict someone to a single application temporarily and to disable parts of the screen and to disable screen rotation. It won’t solve every problem with every game, but it goes a long way. And then you can supplement with Restrictions settings, if necessary.

  • Renea67

    My issue is with the fact that Apple has marketed iPads in conjunction with the Configurator program for use in schools with one to one (each student has his own) ipad use. Many schools have bought into this bright idea of going essentially “paperless” and have been able to make wonderful use of textbook apps and many other educational enhancements. As the IT admin. at one of these schools I, along with others, are frustrated with the fact that while Configurator is good for a lot of things, it cannot prevent the students from accessing (and of course changing them)the settings that we have adjusted to prevent internet access to ALL KINDS of content through some otherwise very useful apps. Had this program not been marketed to indicate that such access could be prevented, I would be less frustrated. On my personal Ipad, I have fewer restrictions set, but do not give my children access without supervision, but when we give kids ipads for ALL of their schoolwork and homework, we’d like to be able to know that they can have some SAFE independence.

  • Jon

    Totally agree with the article. Parents have to monitor and it is their responsibility. Our kids and what they do is our own responsibility, not Apple’s or anybody else. Why American parents can’t take responsibility? Why they always want their kids to grow up fast and be independent and then this happens and companies have to pay them for their negligence? Absurd.