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Setting Up a Child's First iPhone, Part 2: Practicalities

This post is part of a series called Setting Up a Child's First iPhone.
Setting Up a Child's First iPhone, Part 1: Considerations

In this, the second tutorial, I'll show you some of the practicalities of setting up an iPhone for a child. I'll look at the apps to consider, online safety, the physical safety of the device and ongoing device management.

If you have not already done so, read the first part of this tutorial in which I look at the best ways to select an iPhone, the checks that you should do before buying and selecting a contract.

Online Safety

The world is a very different place to when I grew up. It's a lot smaller as a result of the instantaneous worldwide sharing of knowledge and communication. With this comes advantages and disadvantages.


Before giving your child an iPhone, or other smartphone, it is important to discuss with them good netiquette, how they should conduct themselves online and what they should do if they receive unwanted attention.

This is especially important given that a survey of more than 4,700 teenagers revealed almost half think cyberbullying is a bigger issue than drug abuse among young people. 

Age-Restricted Content

An iPhone is a powerful, pocket-sized computer that happens to have the ability to make phone calls. It is so much more than a telephone.

As such, you'll want to ensure that your child can only access age-appropriate content. To do this, you'll need to turn on Restrictions, Apple's name for parental controls.

With Restrictions, you can restrict apps and features, types of content, changes being made to privacy settings, changes being made to settings and accounts and features within Game Center.

Apple has a knowledgebase article regarding Age Restricted content / Parental Controls: 

Also take a look at Internet Matters which has it's own, broader approach to the subject in an interactive guide to parental controls

Filtering Web Content and Online Safety

By default, most mobile phone service providers restrict, to an extent, the content that can be accessed via their mobile data network. 

It is sensible to have a discussion, with your child, as to their use of the device and what sort of content it is acceptable for them to access. Their ability to access distasteful content will be restricted, somewhat, through the use of Apple's Restrictions. But this is not a panacea. 

OpenDNS Family Shield controls content on your behalf
OpenDNS Family Shield controls content on your behalf

You can take take it a step further by employing OpenDNS's free Family Shield IP addresses. You can implement these on the router/airport at home to apply to all devices in the household. You can even take it further with customisation of permitted and blocked sites if you pay OpenDNS for the service.

Again, OpenDNS should not be seen as a catchall to prohibit access to distasteful Internet content; a conversation with your child regarding their rights and responsibilities is still necessary to shape them into a good netizen. 

Useful Apps

It's likely that giving your child their first iPhone is for the purpose of communication. Of course, iPhones do so much more.

Find My iPhone

Find My iPhone is an accurate and reliable way to locate iDevices
Find My iPhone is an accurate and reliable way to locate iDevices

Originally a part of Apple's £60/year MobileMe subscription package, Find My iPhone is now a pre-installed and free app for all iPhone users. 

It's important to note that it is necessary to activate this service when setting up the iPhone. Find My iPhone Is an opt-in service as it is able to track the phone.

I'd recommend that you enable Find My iPhone on your child's iPhone.  Should the iPhone become lost or stolen, it'll be possible to ping the device, send a message and/or sound to it and even remotely wipe the device should it's return seem unlikely. 

Find My Friends

Find my Friends is built in to iOS9 and can be used to locate your child
Find my Friends is built in to iOS9 and can be used to locate your child

Find My Friends is a free Apple app that allows iPhone users to share their location permanently or temporarily with others. Since the introduction of iOS 9, this app ships, by default, as one of the included Apple apps and can not be deleted. 

There are ethical implications to the tracking of another person, so it's best that you have that discussion with your child, first. It'll also depend upon their age. Whilst it is useful for younger teens, as your child gets older 

However you decide to use it, Find My Friends provides an easy and invaluable way of locating your child and could provide peace of mind that they're on their way home from that after school club or they've reached their friend's house. 


Telegram is the best the fastest and one of the most secure messenger services
Telegram is the best, the fastest and one of the most secure messenger services

Telegram is a cross-platform messaging app that has apps available for both desktop and mobile. 

Whilst iMessage is native to Mac and iOS, it's not the best solution if you use a mix of Windows and Mac, iPhone and Android. 

The advantages of using Telegram over iMessage go further. Telegram is super fast, super reliable and is able to show you when your message has been delivered and when it has been read. It is also extremely secure. 

WhatsApp does not have a desktop client app, though it does have a website implementation. iMessage depends upon the recipient first permitting read receipts. 


The cost of mobile data remains high, relative to bundled minutes and SMS, with most phone contracts. Many people rarely use voice communication and many rely on text chat via applications such as iMessage, WhatsApp or Telegram, all of which bypass the mobile phone provider and only use data. 

Keeping a track of data usage is a good idea. Text messaging via chat applications will consume little of a data allowance. Start sending photos and video, or downloading or streaming video content over cellular data and you'll see the data allowance consumed in no time. 

It's important to explain the difference, to your child, about the difference in consuming cellular data and Wi-Fi data. Give them the responsibility to monitor and understand their data usage through an app such as Dataman.

Physical Safety


If you are risk-averse you may wish to pay for insurance
If you are risk-averse, you may wish to pay for insurance

An iPhone is an expensive device. Whether you choose to insure it, or not, depends upon your aversion to risk and the likely hood of your child losing or damaging the device.

For those of a nervous disposition, an insurer such as Protect Your Bubble (other gadget insurers are available) can provide you with some peace of mind, for a price.  For loss or damage, that price is £6.99 per month for an iPhone 5S 16GB. Terms and conditions apply, and you won't be able to insure a secondhand device with this company. 

Put it into context, though. That works out at £167.76 over two years and there is an excess of £75 for loss, and £50 excess for damage, of an insured iPhone. Consider if you'd be better off saving that amount each month. 


A decent case could prove to be a better investment than insurance
A decent case could prove to be a better investment than insurance

When it comes to the physical protection of the device, I like to use a good case and a screen protector.  My approach is proven. I've dropped my own iPhone countless times and it is still in perfect, 'as new' condition when I come to sell it. 

The way that I do this is to place my iPhone in a Speck CandyShell case. These have a hard plastic she'll and a softer, rubberised material on the inside that helps to absorb knocks and drops. The case does not add too much, in the way of bulk, to the iPhone and it is a stylish way to protect the device. For £20 or less, this case has saved my iPhones on countless occasions, even when dropped onto had concrete.

Tempered glass screen protectors are superior and smoother than thin plastic film
Tempered glass screen protectors are superior, and smoother, than thin plastic film

For the screen, I've long used plastic screen protectors, but these are not as smooth as the glass screen of the iPhone and they do tend to pick up scratches over time. The plastic screen protector can be difficult to apply and you'll often end up with bubbles or specks of dust between the iPhone screen and the screen protector. 

Instead, I now use Anker 9H tempered glass screen protectors. These have a much smoother feel and, although noticeably thicker than plastic acetate-type protectors, once applied the tempered glass protector is almost indistinguishable and is much more pleasant to use. It's purported to be much tougher than conventional, flexible protectors.


In this series of two tutorials, I've shown you some of the things that you need to consider when setting up an iPhone for a child. I have covered the best ways in selecting a device, the sort of software and controls that you need to consider and the physical safety of the device itself.

If you have any more ideas or suggestions, for repurposing an iPhone for a child, please share them in the comments below to benefit all readers of Envato Tuts+.

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