A sin­gle parental con­trol

Mac Format - - APPLE TALK -

I have three chil­dren: my daugh­ter is the el­dest, presently at univer­sity in her sec­ond year. She has an iPhone 4s and a MacBook Pro. Each of my teenage boys has an iPad mini and a non-Ap­ple phone. We share a fam­ily ac­count for Ama­zon Prime Video and Net­flix, but have sep­a­rate ones for the iTunes Store. I would like a sin­gle, sim­ple way of reg­u­lat­ing who has ac­cess to what on each de­vice.

I’m a sin­gle mother with lim­ited tech­ni­cal know-how, and I don’t have the time to ad­min­is­ter a com­pli­cated net­work with dif­fer­ent per­mis­sions for ev­ery­thing. Is there a de­vice that I can plug into the net­work that will take care of all of this for me? Marie Bet­ten­court It de­pends on what you are try­ing to re­strict. Let’s start with pornog­ra­phy. Most broad­band providers have a fil­ter­ing op­tion that you can en­able on their site. That will block vir­tu­ally all adult con­tent for free, but teenagers are re­source­ful crea­tures and there are lots of ways around this. They could turn on the mo­bile Wi-Fi hotspot fea­ture on their phones, for ex­am­ple, and ac­cess porn on an­other de­vice con­nected to it, un­less you also en­abled adult fil­ter­ing with their mo­bile phone providers. Even then, there isn’t much you can do to re­strict their in­ter­net ac­cess when they are us­ing some­body else’s Wi-Fi away from home.

For stream­ing TV, both Ama­zon Prime and Net­flix have a parental con­trols set­ting that lets you re­strict the con­tent that can be viewed, with a PIN code for times when you want to over­ride the re­stric­tion. There’s just one PIN for each ac­count, so you’ll have to make sure the older kids keep it se­cret. You can also use the PIN to pre­vent any­one rent­ing or buy­ing videos on Ama­zon Prime.

How­ever, the short an­swer is that there isn’t really a sin­gle de­vice or ser­vice that will give you com­plete con­trol over your chil­dren. Mo­bile in­ter­net and Wi-Fi hotspots mean that just re­strict­ing your home router isn’t enough, and ev­ery ser­vice has its own parental con­trols to man­age. My kids are about the same age as yours though, and I’ve found that a com­bi­na­tion of sen­si­ble dis­cus­sion, and hav­ing all the re­ceipts come to my email ad­dress has been enough of a de­ter­rent to keep them out of the worst trou­ble.

All video stream­ing ser­vices have their own parental con­trols to man­age.

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