How to manage age-appropriate content on family devices and apps

Monday, December 1st, 2014

Cyber safety for kids and families with Joanna and Jodie on 103.9FM The Fish Family Morning Show

Mary Kay Hoal, Founder of YourSphere kids-only social network Photo: courtesy

Mary Kay Hoal, Founder of YourSphere kids-only social network
Photo: courtesy

Christmas is on the horizon, and many parents are faced with important decisions about the purchase of devices for children who are always very eager to jump into the cyber social realm of apps and games long before many parents are confident about managing their on-line experiences. No doubt the management of content with the diversity of devices and apps can feel confusing and overwhelming at times. Every device and every app has its own arrangement of security functions and permissions to navigate, and the stakes are high for very young hearts and minds who also need to learn how to establish healthy boundaries using this technology.

Setting limits with devices

Apple (iOS)
Mary Kay Hoal, founder of YourSphere in Davis, California, recently published an article advising parents to be careful about the Family Share Plan for iOS 8 devices. She discovered that the Family Share Plan shares everything. So if you have children with wide age gaps, wherein teenage appropriate content is not desirable for your fifth-grader, for example, then you must know that the family library of apps, movies and music is accessible to all. Also she discovered that personal contacts and other information were shared as well. This is a good heads up for any parent seeking solutions to manage the diversity of content and functional needs of a family on-line.

See related: What every parent needs to know about the iPhone 6 and iOS8

Hoal’s discovery piqued my curiosity about the strategy to safely share Apple devices and apps. So I checked in with a iOS-savvy mom who is a friend and chooses to remain anonymous.

According to her, The Family Sharing Plan is designed to allow up to six people in a family share each other’s iTunes (music, movies, tv shows), iBooks and App Store purchases, without sharing accounts. You can also share photos, a family calendar, and anyone can use the ‘Reminders app’ to send time or location reminders to the family.

“You can also share your location with the family automatically, or you can disable it,” she writes in an email. “With Family Sharing and ‘Find My iPhone’, any family member can help find another member’s missing device. Now kids under 13 can have their own Apple IDs – the parent creates it and adds the child to the family group. ‘Ask to buy’ is turned on by default.”

How to share safely using ‘Family Share Plan’

Account set up and administration. Each person should have their own Apple ID and iCloud account. If a family shares an iCloud account, they will see all of each others organizational information: Messages, Contacts, Calendar, Safari Bookmarks, Reminders, Notes, iCloud Mail, etc. This can be very problematic, for privacy sake. Note that The Family Share Plan does not share contacts so if your family is seeing your contacts you are actually sharing one iCloud account.

Caveat: Oversee “family sharing” as E for everyone. The Family Sharing Plan should be viewed as a tool to help your family stay connected, as well as support the parent oversee the media purchases. “So if a parent has allowed a young teen to download explicit music, Family Sharing will not automatically shield this from the younger siblings,” my friend explains.

Since the other younger children will be exposed to everything in every family member’s library and your teen has purchased something inappropriate for your fifth grader, you have the ability to “hide” any purchases that you don’t want other family members to see. Learn how to hide and unhide purchases.

To learn more about parent tools to manage your child’s on-line experiences, you can schedule an appointment at the local Apple Store.

Cyber Rites of Passge_wip3c _book cover(2)

Download your free copy of this e-book guide to establishing age-appropriate boundaries with the use of smart devices in the home.

Managing content on tablets – Amazon, Android and Windows

Recent tips from Kim Kommando offer guidance to share the devices more securely with your children.

  • Amazon Fire – use the FreeTime App
  • Android Tablets – it is possible to set up multiple password-secure accounts so family members can share without giving up privacy.
  • Windows tablets ( SurfacePro etc.) – Why creating multiple “standard accounts” for each family member is better than using the Administrator account. According to Kommando, “The standard account is more restrictive. You can surf the Web, run programs and download new files. However, you can’t change advanced settings or install programs without entering the administrator password.”

Related: A parents’ guide to social media


(Edited May 21, 2015)


Joanna Jullien (Photo: Christi Benz)

Joanna Jullien
(Photo: Christi Benz)

Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and speaker on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber powered world. She is a mother of two grown sons, the author of The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture, produces The Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on, and is the CyberParenting advisor on The Fish 103.9FM. Her new book, A Google World in the Garden of Eden: Five Family-Safe Strategies for Texting and Social Media is now available for PC and all eReader formats including Kindle, Nook, iPad.

Jodie Stevens, hostess of The Fish Family Morning Show 103.9FM  started a blog called, Genuine Life with Jodie Stevens

Jodie Stevens, hostess of The Fish Family Morning Show 103.9FM started a blog called, Genuine Life with Jodie Stevens

Jodie Stevens, hostess of The Fish Family Morning Show on 103.9FM The Fish offers insights and lessons learned about faith and recovery from addiction. Check out her blog, Genuine Life with Jodie Stevens, weekday mornings on the Family Morning Show.

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About Joanna Jullien

Joanna Jullien

Joanna ( and her husband have raised two sons in Roseville, CA. She has a degree from U.C. Berkeley in Social Anthropology (corporate culture). Her honors thesis was awarded the Kroeber Prize and funding from National Science Foundation grant. Joanna writes to help parents with the modern-day leadership challenges of raising children. She is a contributing writer for The Granite Bay View, the Press Tribune, the Sacramento Examiner, and editor of Banana Moments.