The lazy dad’s guide to iDevice setup for kids

My kids are under 12. I don’t want to spend all day hovering over their shoulders as they use their new iPads.  I don’t make any guarantees that this will keep your kids out of trouble online. Here’s what I’ve done. I’ll update this as necessary:

Step 1.) Setup OpenDNS

Keep your kids off of websites they probably shouldn’t be checking out and/or generally not-kid-friendly sites that they will accidentally stumble across. 

http://www.opendns.com/home-solutions/parental-controls

Two options here. They have a free option called Family Shield which just blocks porn and then they have the Home VIP for $19.95 a year. We opted for the VIP package because we wanted more control over what  is blocked. 

With opendns, you have to make a quick modification to either the DNS settings for your internet router or for your kid’s device(s). We set ours up at the router level, that way when kids come over with their own devices and join our network, they have the same access restrictions as our kids and I don’t have to worry so much about what they’re doing online. 

Then, so that grownups can still access youtube.com and other restricted sites from the grownup machines, I just put in our ISP’s DNS entries on our computers, over-riding the DNS that’s set at the internet router level.  This sounds a little complicated but frankly takes no more than 20 minutes to do from start to finish for the router and about a half dozen devices. Time well spent. 

Step 2.) Setup a kid’s itunes account

iTunes won’t let you create an account without a credit card and I didn’t want my kids buying apps/songs on my credit card, especially when they received gift cards for christmas. 

So, to create/manage my kid’s accounts, i went to itunes and created an “allowance” account for $10.  

You can create an iTunes account for them when creating the “allowance” account. 

  • Note though, that when they first log in to the account from the device, they’ll have to lie about their age and say they are over 13. 
  • Once the account is created, you can cancel the monthly allowance. 
  • Your kid will need an email account for their itunes account. create one on gmail for them, there’s no real need for them to have access to the email account once the itunes is setup though.

Here’s a quick step by step for creating the allowance account:

http://howto.cnet.com/8301-11310_39-57559679-285/how-to-set-a-monthly-itunes-…

Step 3.) Lockdown the ipad/ipod, etc.

good overview here: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4213?viewlocale=en_US&locale=en_US

Basically, by going into the restrictions settings you can block access to some of the apps, but I was more interested in the following settings:

  • Ratings (PG-13, etc.) and age restrctions for games/apps. Now my kids can shop the store with their gift cards but not buy adult games or movies
  • Privacy settings (i don’t want my kid on twitter or facebook)
  • Accounts (locking down the account means they have to use the itunes account that I created in step 2)

 

reboot your Onkyo receiver (fix the blinking red light problem)

I was playing some LPs the other day and my newish Onkyo A-9555 receiver made a popping sound and shut off. When I turned it back on, the red light just blinked and the volume light never came on. After taking the unit apart to look for a blown fuse–only to discover the fuse was fine–I searched for a copy of the manual online and found this gem:

How to reset: To reset the A-9755/A-9555 to its factory defaults, while holding down the [PURE DIRECT] button, press the [LOUDNESS] button, and then release both buttons. The input selector indicators light up for one second, and then the A-9755/A-9555 enters On mode.

So, after doing that, everything’s fine. I noticed a lot of people on various HiFi forums whining about the blinking red light problem and how they had to pay ridiculous sums of money to get their amps fixed after experiencing the same issue. Before shelling out money, you may want to try the above.