Have you checked your set up?

  • The Family Sharing settings on Apple products are a great way to share music, TV, books or other purchases made on the App store with all the family.
  • The feature allows you to set up ‘Parent’ and ‘Child’ accounts on Apple devices, which means the ‘Parent’ account is able to monitor the activity of the ‘Child’ Account.
  • This feature can help parents and carers keep children and young people in their care safer online.
  • Understanding how these features work is important if you want to use them effectively.
  • Use Our Safety Centre, and the advice from this blog, to get the most from Apple’s Family Sharing, and create a safer environment for children and young people in your care.

We recently spoke to some parents about their experiences of using safety settings and how these don’t always work as intended. Here’s what they said:

Sharing an Apple ID with a child in your care

I see myself as quite good with technology and able to turn on the safety settings for my 10-year-old. I set up my child’s iPad with my own Apple ID so that I could monitor any purchases. 

One day I noticed a £45 charge to my account and realised my daughter had been able to download apps and approve in-app purchases without me being notified. 

It turns out she was able to reset my password using the ‘I forgot’ button. I thought connecting her with my Apple ID would be enough for me to monitor her activity but she found a way around that.

What can you do?

A safer way to set up your child’s device would be to disable in-app purchases completely or set your child up with a ‘Child Account’ in the Family Sharing settings. Find out how to do this here.

The importance of Parent vs Child accounts

“I needed help to set up my new iPhone, and my teenager was very willing to step in and create all the settings for me so I didn’t have to worry… But I made the mistake of allowing this without my supervision. 

“When I recently tried to buy an album on iTunes I was told I needed approval. I spoke to a friend who agreed something was wrong. We had a look and discovered my account had been set up as a ‘child account’ on my iPhone. 

“I soon realised that my tech-savvy teenager had set themself up as the parent and me as the child through family sharing settings. That meant they had access to the parental controls and could buy whatever they wanted.”

What can you do?

Sharing your Apple ID with a child during set up should be avoided. Instead, use our guide below to create a ‘Child Account’ through the Family Sharing Settings.

Safety Benefits of Family Sharing

  • Monitor Purchasing: By setting up a child account through the Family Sharing settings, as a parent or carer, you can approve all purchases made through a child account and monitor any purchasing activity. This is done via the ‘Ask to Buy’ feature.

    • This is particularly useful if you want to avoid any unexpected bill shocks. There are countless stories in the media of parents being sent unexpected bills, costing thousands of pounds. Research by Childnet has found that 1 in 10 children will accidentally spend money on apps.
  • Hide Purchases: If you, as a parent or carer have downloaded Apps that are not age-appropriate for children or young people in your care, you can simply choose to hide certain purchases.

  • Control Screen Time: Family Sharing allows you to use the Screen Time feature. This feature lets you see screentime reports and turn on parental controls from your iPhone. You cannot set a specific time limit, but be sure to check out our blog on ways to manage screen time.

  • Location Sharing: Family members are able to see where each other are on the Find My Friends function. This can be switched off via iCloud settings.

Support for Parents and Carers

To make use of safety settings, it is important to understand them before sitting down as a family. Agree on these together while discussing why they are important. Use our guide below to understand how to use Family Sharing Settings.

To help you set up your Apple Devices with the Family Sharing settings correctly, check out our safety centre for more useful information. 

You can also learn more about Family Sharing on the Apple website.

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