Should Your Child Have an iPod Touch?


Today the iPod Touch provides many forms of entertainment and useful services. It started as a simple device to store and play your own music collection, whereas now it can be used to play games with friends across the country, watch movies, check Facebook, send emails, surf the web, play with learning activities, and many other unimaginable things. You can find an application for almost anything and everything these days. Because of the various activities an iPod Touch can be used for, there are many ways a child could get into mischief. As a parent, it is critical that you are aware of what your child is capable of accessing when they possess an iPod Touch and what problems may occur.

First of all, one good thing is that there are parental controls on the iPod Touch that can be used to block certain content and disable certain features. You can navigate to these through the home screen. First you tap 'Settings', then 'General', then 'Restriction'. From there you tap 'Enable Restrictions' and enter a four-digit PIN to lock the settings. Some of the features that can be switched off include Explicit iPod Content, Safari, YouTube, iTunes, and Installing Apps. 1 Turning off access to Safari eliminates a lot of options. YouTube has to be blocked separately. In theory, it does not allow pornography, but it may show up occasionally. Be aware that YouTube naturally tends to have some rather mature content. Explicit iPod content includes anything that iTunes defines as Explicit. Content can be downloaded, but it cannot be accessed and is unavailable. Nevertheless, there are applications that allow you to monitor your child's use of the Internet and block them from accessing inappropriate sites and material. 2

There is the possibility that your child may discover ways around parental controls. There is a reset button that returns the iPod Touch to its original state, which not only includes removing passwords and restrictions, but also erases everything. If kids are really looking for trouble, they could get into jailbreaking, which disables Apple's restrictions also. This allows them to install unauthorized software. HidePod, a different program, allows pornography and other media to be hidden. It appears as though it is a calculator, but one key combination will reveal everything. In order to uncover HidePod, you would need the iPod Touch's serial number. 2

Another factor to consider is cost. With an iPod Touch, the user is required to set up an iTunes account if they plan on adding any applications to it. If your child has their own iTunes account you need to keep tabs on it, especially if it is your credit card that their account is linked to. A credit card is required to make the iPod Touch usable and once that information is stored in the profile, all that is needed is a simple user password to make all the purchases you want. Also, for the next five to ten minutes you are able to make unlimited purchases without having to reenter the password. You should know how much your child is spending and what he or she is spending it on. Content can also be loaded onto an iPod using a computer, so iTunes' parental controls should be enabled on the computer as well. 3 One idea to control your child's spending is to provide a periodic allowance.

Next, an iPod Touch is a fragile device. Although you can buy a case for extra protection, they are still easily broken. Children are also more likely to lose items and are not as responsible. You may want to consider insurance when you give a child access to such a fragile and expensive device. Another drawback is that hearing damage is always a possibility with any type of iPod or MP3 player. Children need to avoid playing their music, movies, or games too loud especially when they use headphones. One more thing to be aware of is the amount of time your child spends using the iPod Touch. There are many activities available that may become addictive or that may be distracting at inopportune times.

If you do have questions or concerns regarding any Apple device, you can go to apple.com. Then click on 'Support' in the top bar, and click on 'Communities'. There you can submit any questions you may have, and other Apple product users can share tips and solutions that may help you. In the end, it is all up to you as the parent to make a wise and well-informed decision on whether or not it is a good idea to give your child an iPod Touch. Although there may be many benefits to allowing children to play with an iPod Touch, you must decide whether or not the benefits outweigh the problems that may arise.