So after S moved in, I had to set up parental controls on her tablet, which the foster carer previously had set up. She has an android device and the foster carer used Google Family Link so I set it up and it was all fairly straightforward and made sense to me.
The kid was mildly annoyed that I still wanted to approve any games or apps she downloaded and set limits on screen time, but otherwise it was fine and easy to sort out.
Then I tried to set up A’s tablet and it was a total disaster!
A has a second-hand ipad, which is an Apple device, and after setting up her profile on Family Link it turned out it doesn’t work on Apple products so I had to do all her controls via my own Apple account instead.
A bit of googling later and I found some step-by-step instructions.
First, set up your kid with an Apple ID of their own, and then go to the family sharing thing in your settings and set up screen time limits, app limits etc (way more confusing than Family Link by the way).
Once you’ve set them all up, you’re good to go.
So I did all the things like set it up to shut down at 7pm and limit her screen time to xx hours per day, and only allow U or PG-rated apps etc. Took me a while to find them all as they are not well-labelled or clear.
However after doing all of this I realised that as she didn’t previously have her own Apple ID, her ipad was logged on using my account, so she could theoretically override all the settings, and she also had access to all my contacts and phone numbers etc, which has always been annoying as she might accidentally call people from my contact list.
So I realised I needed to do a proper factory reset and wipe everything off her ipad first, then log in with her own ID. Which I did.
And frankly that’s when the trouble started.
After logging her into a shiny blank ipad I couldn’t find the App store app/button to re-download all her toddler games and apps. I searched and searched but could find nothing. Even the apps that she had on there seemed to not work. Took me about 20 mins of frantic tapping to realise it was after 7pm and I’d set up her screen time to shut down after 7pm. Though there was no helpful message to say any of that!
Went onto my phone to unlock her time limits, then back in, still can’t make head or tail out of how to download her apps back on there. Another 20 mins of tapping all the things before I realise I’ve blocked her from installing apps without my permission, so go back onto my phone to unblock those settings too (but where are they? Why can’t I find them? Why has Apple made this so hard??).
Thinking I’ve finally unlocked all the right settings on my phone, I can finally see the icon to the app store so I try to re-download all her CBeebies and Toddler games. Every single time it asks for my thumbprint, then says it needs an adult’s permission, then I have to go onto my phone and approve the download, etc etc. Even after thinking I had unlocked everything it still went through a range of checks.
Couldn’t for the life of me get Netflix or Disney to install and it took another millenia to find the correct setting (movies and TV shows were set to U and therefore it wouldn’t let me download Netflix AT ALL) so I had to hunt down the specific settings and toggle them all on and off in an increasing state of hysteria.
Halfway through this process I was informed I had reached my daily limit of screen time for the day and it would be locked, so I screamed into a pillow for a bit before starting again.
Finally got most of her games back for her, and downloaded a new app that her sister has to be able to video call and message people without needing a phone number or facebook account etc. For some reason it STILL had access to ALL of my contacts in my phone despite me doing the factory reset (no I don’t know why) so I spent over an hour painstakingly blocking every single number so that my 4-year old can’t accidentally call the Doctor’s or my colleagues, or my relatives in Australia at 3am etc.
Setting this all up took HOURS and then I had to go back into my phone and re-establish all the parental controls I’d had to remove.
The next day we tried to test it out and called Grandma – BUT THE FUCKER DIDN’T WORK!! Apparently it didn’t have permission to access the camera, but when it directs you to the settings there was no camera option to approve.
Back to square fucking one, another hour of my life fiddling with all the settings until I found which hidden control needed to be toggled to allow the camera to work.
Fuck my life if it wasn’t so expensive I’d have hurled the fucking ipad against the wall about 17 times at this point. There should be some sort of medal for setting up parental controls on an ipad, and frankly if a child can work out how to get round it then they just win.
Whenever that thing dies, I’m getting her an android tablet because Family Link was literally 1000 times easier to figure out than the ipad. I love Apple under normal circumstances but this process tested me in ways I could not have foreseen. Like the trials of Hercules they just kept coming at me! It’s possible that my less-than-excellent levels of technological savvy-ness are to blame here, but I like to think I’m a reasonable person with medium intelligence and I’m pretty sure it’s more likely that Apple are evil bastards who enjoy watching parents go slowly insane as they secretly record us all from our smartphones.