A few unsettling reports have come in from parents using iPads with their kids recently. It seems there are a few issues with pop up ads appearing on free applications for kids. These ads are linked to websites that are definitely not intended for kids. Understandably parents are surprised and dismayed to find their children unwittingly accessing explicit material. I’m sure they are wondering how this could possibly happen?
Well the answer is simple – iPads can connect to the internet so they carry the same risk as computers and other devices that can also access the internet. With this in mind it is so important to treat the iPad in the same way you would kids with computers connected to the internet.
If your children must access the internet via the iPad this should be done under supervision. The best way to protect kids is to be around and checking in on what they are watching or accessing. I bet you’re thinking “I can’t be everywhere”, or “it happens so quickly!” well you are right! It can happen very quickly and in the case of the recent reported issues the children were not intending to visit the attached websites, they just pressed a colourful button!
The quickest way to prevent kids from accessing the internet is to disable internet access on your iPad. This can be done by selecting “airplane” mode in the settings panel. If your kids are extra clever and need something more secure you can “enable restrictions” using a separate password (one you never let slip to the kids!), and select from a range of restrictions including limiting access to the internet or apps that use the internet e.g. “YouTube”. If your kids can’t connect to the internet then they can’t get to any websites!
In the above example, parents felt safe using a particular application as it was designed for children. When I reported the issue to the application developer they too were concerned and investigated the problem. They also made a good suggestion, when you purchasing an application that is free, generally speaking you will find they are more likely to contain ads. Perhaps consider purchasing the full version (that is usually inexpensive), and this will take care of the annoying ads!
The take home message for the internet here is when in doubt – disconnect!