How to set time limits on an iPad

Worried about your kids spending too much time on iPads?

I haven’t found the perfect solution for setting time limits on an iPad yet.  I was hoping for an app, that as soon as my 7-year old picked it up and started playing a timer would start and lock her out after a set period of time.  In an ideal world, I should be monitoring her use more closely, but like all busy parents I get distracted and lose track of time.

However, I have found a work around that will suffice until I find something better.   You will have to manually set the timer and it’s App specific.   In my case I wanted to limit the amount of time that she spends on Minecraft.

How to Set Time Limits

1) Firstly, you will need iOS 8 as it has the Guided Access Feature.  Go to Settings>General>Accessibility and turn on the Guided Access  feature.

2) Now when your child is in the game/app/website, if you triple click the Home Button on the Device a menu for setting the time limit will appear in the bottom right hand corner.  Simply choose the amount of time you are happy for them to have.

How to open Guided Access

Setting Time Limit on iPad


3) They will be given a warning when they are about to run out of time.


4) Then a black screen will appear letting them know that they have run out of time.

Time Expired Guided Access


5) At this point, it’s up to your discretion whether you want to give them more time.


Do you have any other solutions to this?  Are there any good apps you have used that would be better?  Please do leave a comment below.





Technology is not making our kids stupid!

Myths About Teenagers and Tech that Parents should ignore

Myths about Teens and Tech

On the weekend I read an article by Elizabeth Pearle, the Senior Editor of HuffPost  Teen called 5 Myths that Parents should ignore about Teens and Technology.  She challenges the myths that technology is making our kids thick, anti-social and causing them to have attention spans of goldfish but in fact, technology is making them more engaged, better readers and writers and more sociable than ever.

It is one of those articles, that you think, yes, she nailed it and I couldn’t have written it better. Well she is a professional writer, so it’s not surprising. The content was spot on and I found myself nodding the whole way through and was compelled to share it.

I strongly recommend you read it before you read the rest of this post.

My Two Bits

However, there are a few things that I would like to add from my own personal experience as a parent, educational technology consultant and social media addict.

‘They are not addicted to technology they are addicted to each other’

In the summer, I had the opportunity to spend more time with my 15 year old niece. I’ve been away for most of her life so haven’t got to know her as well as I’ve had liked. She does spend a lot of time on her phone, like most teens and when I say a lot, she is on it constantly even into the wee hours of the night. It winds the majority of adults around her crazy.

However, it doesn’t bother me as a high user of tech myself, I’m fully aware that she can talk to her friends and join in a conversation with me at the same time. So, instead of chastising her, I showed interest in what she was chatting about and in the end she opened up and started sharing with me.

‘Text speak is not making them stupid’

I couldn’t even hazard guess at the number of messages teens send in a day. But I know that I’ve personally sent over a 160,000 tweets which probably equates to a rather large manuscript, more than I ever wrote at school. Kids are reading and writing messages relentlessly, this can’t be a bad thing, even if they throw in creative ‘text’ spellings, they’re engaged with language. Isn’t this what we want?

‘It’s causing them to become anti-social’

Even though I spend a lot of time on Social Media sites, I’m one of the least sociable people you will meet. I hate chatting on the phone or making small talk with people when I first meet them. However, with the advent of social media, I find that I’m more sociable than ever. I seek out conversations on Twitter and Facebook, join in and often start my own conversations.

‘Teens are careless about online privacy’

I asked my niece about this tonight and she said ‘they really do care’  This may be one of the reasons that the younger generation are no longer using Facebook as they don’t want everyone, including their Nan, knowing what they are up to and migrating to Snapchat.  Teens have been private since as long as I can remember and I was too.  Getting anything out of them is more difficult than pulling teeth.

Prior to coming to the UK and applying for jobs, I told her to clean up her Facebook page.  She had an interview and the person said ‘you do realise your Facebook page is wide open’  she said ‘yes, I have nothing to hide’ which he replied, ‘yes I could see that’. So lets give them a bit more credit and space to be teens.

Safer Internet Day 11th Feb 2014

As I’ve said before the internet is an amazing place to learn and children who don’t have access to it could be academically disadvantaged. There are safety issues we need to consider, but I do worry that all of the e-safety talks and information aimed at parents ends up only scaring the hell out of them resulting in them restricting their child’s access to this resources.

Head in the sand?

One of the most frustrating things for me is other parent’s unwillingness to understand technology a bit better so they can engage in meaningful conversations with their kids. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard parents say ‘I don’t do Twitter or Facebook’ I’m not suggesting they sign up to all the platforms and lose years of their life like I have. But I do encourage them to sign up for an account, log into their kids accounts or borrow a friends to have a little look around so they can talk to their children in an informed way and show interest.

I know all the kids are now using Snapchat, I’ve personally never used it, even though my generation are starting to have a play.  However, my 20 year old niece is with us at the moment and I made her sit down with me and show me how it works.

It’s no different!

However, as a parent, with anything else are children get involved with we educate ourselves about it. If our child chooses to play rugby, we appreciate the dangers and get them a mouth guard. When they are old enough to get themselves to school we check out the route.  If they spend the night at their mates, we get to know the parents.

I’m not suggesting if your child is going to their first rave you drop a couple of Ecstasy tablets, put on some house music and dance around the lounge. However, you would educate your children on the dangers of illicit drugs? No?

So, why don’t many parents do the same when it comes to technology?

Top Tips for protecting your child from pornographic content

Do you know how to keep your kids safer online?

I first met Tony Anscombe a few months ago at a ‘Child Internet Safety’ round-table discussion and how parents felt about tackling it.  The general consensus was that parents are aware of some of the dangers of the internet, many of them are willing and want to keep their kids as safe as possible when online but many simply don’t know where to start.

Interestingly though,

‘ nearly two-thirds (66 percent) of parents are adamant that the ultimate responsibility for online safety education falls to them’.

As a technology consultant in education and a parent myself, I do feel I have a slight advantage, as I do have the technical ability to put some of the safety measures in place, however, I need to emphasize ‘slight’.  I have done a few things at home but not nearly enough.  I wouldn’t even know where to begin when setting parental controls on the router.

Tony is not only Senior Security Evangelist at AVG Technologies but also a father himself and wanted to share with you some tips for keeping your kids safer online which also includes a downloadable Guide for Parents.

Author: Tony Anscombe, Senior Security Evangelist at AVG Technologies

Potecting your child from pornography onlineOn 22nd July 2013, David Cameron announced plans to have online pornography blocked to most UK households by changing the default settings for internet providers. Going forward, customers would have to actively contact their suppliers to ‘opt out’ of this, change their settings, and ‘opt-in’ to view adult material. There was, unsurprisingly, a huge media storm in response to the proposal with fevered debate on all sides.

Away from the debate, it did, however, raise an important question – how much do you actually understand about the implications of this for you and your child? If, like many of the parents I have met over the past few weeks, you are not familiar with ‘tech jargon’ and talk of ISPs, SSLs and WPAs etc., let’s make sense of it all together.

What does ‘opt out’ content filtering mean?

As the name suggests, opt out content filtering means that you have to consciously ‘withdraw’ from the filtering service if you do not wish to use it. Our mobiles, TVs and computers are all set-up with default settings – also known as ‘factory settings’.

Unless you actively reset, change, turn off or ‘opt out’ of these settings, they become part of your computer, mobile or TV settings. Until the Prime Minister’s announcement, the default setting for blocking pornography was ‘off’ – meaning that unless you actively switched on/’opted in’ for the service, by default you and your child were not protected against explicit images and pornography online. Now, unless you actively switch off/’opt out’ of the default setting on your computer, you and your child will automatically be protected from explicit content and pornography online.

We tend to presume a level of safety protection when we go online – something that is often not the case, especially when the right precautions (antivirus, firewalls and blocking, for example) aren’t in place. Many of us weren’t even aware that default settings had to be changed to ensure our safety so the automatic filter just takes manual changes off our to do lists – one thing less to worry about!

What else should you be aware of?

  • There are other threats facing your kids online. Keeping our kids safe online takes so much more than a default ‘safe’ setting. Nowadays, there are chat rooms, social networking sites and forums that all encourage kids to communicate in ways that fall outside the filter. For example, what happens if your child is over-sharing information or compromising their safety on what the filter considers to be a ‘safe site’?
  • It’s not fool-proof. A filter is not a complete solution for protecting your child online. Time must be spent educating children about the potential risks they are exposed to online and how to handle these should they arise. It is important that you view the filter as a starting point and accompany education with additional security precautions.
  • It’s not all about filters. While ‘opt out’ and other protective filters are a key part of protecting your child online there are other basic controls you can take ownership of. Most security software lets you set time limits of their surfing, add sites to a ‘blacklist’ or organize a specifically constrained device profile for them to use – all are great ways of monitoring where and what they can access.

How can I be sure my child is safe online?

The honest answer – you can only do so much. If you have all the necessary security measures in place, and have educated your child as fully as possible then you’re in the best possible position. As they get older you need to trust that they will make the right decisions, but in the meantime here’s my advice, one parent to another:

  • Show an interest. You wouldn’t let your child out all day without asking where they had been, who they had been with and what they had done so why not ask similar questions to our child when they are tucked away with a laptop or computer?
  • Be open. They’ll often follow suit. If you openly share your knowledge and insights they’re likely to share theirs. Make sure you know what’s going on in their world so you’re always one step ahead in protecting their privacy.
  • Download the apps they are using. Most antivirus software products enable you to look at and manage the apps your kids are using. Take the time to look at what they’re doing – from here you can build a safe environment for them to use.
  • Educate yourself. You don’t need to become an internet security expert, but it’s worth having a basic awareness of the potential threats, as well as other things your children may encounter online, and what you can do about them. With the right knowledge you can teach your child best practice too – our e-book (downloadable here) is a great place to start.

If you found this article useful, do let me know as we may be planning a mini-series of posts around this topic.  If there is anything in particular you would like to know please do leave comments/questions below.













How to Keep Younger Children Safer When Using Computers

Featured Post 

More than a third of all 3-4 year-olds are now accessing the internet in their homes. My daughter has been accessing computers since she was two, and swipe technology has made this possible. She whizzes around the iPhone and iPad better than her father does and can often be seen on my lap searching the internet for answers to questions I don’t know the answer to (e.g. why don’t electric eels shock themselves?). She is truly a digital native. She is now five.

As an ICT consultant, I train teachers for a living on the use of hardware and software in the classroom and I strongly believe that these technologies can positively impact her learning.  However, I don’t want her spending day in and day out in front of the screen.

I know a lot of parents are reluctant to allow their children to access these technologies and rightly so. The internet can be a dangerous place, but I do feel that children who are denied access may be put at a disadvantage academically.

I’ve been doing a bit of research about e-safety and younger children, aged 3-5, but everything I read tends to relate to slightly older children who are able to read and write.  My daughter is just learning to read and write so I found that a lot of the information was not relevant to this stage as it was talking about chat rooms, cyber bullying, etc so I thought I’d put together a short list of my top tips for keeping younger children safer when online.

In our house, she has supervised access to iPhones, iPads and a PC.  This is where my experience lies so this article is based on that.  However, I’m sure it can be translated to Androids, Macs and other tablets.  Do chip in the comments section.

My top 10 tips for keeping younger children safer

When using an iPad or iPhone

I’ve learned a few of these the hard way – just remember that the settings are your friend.

1.) Turn off In-App Purchase to avoid any nasty surprises! I’ve written about this in the past when my neighbour nearly got stung with a £70 bill from iTunes.

You can do this in Setting>General>Restrictions and turn off In-App Purchases

How to turn of in app purchases

2.) Turn of Location Services – this one really scared the crap out of me. I hadn’t even thought about the fact that someone could identify my daughter’s location using it. Eeeek!  I have now turned it off! It’s in Restrictions as well.

Turning off Location Services

3.) Disable Safari and YouTube – My daughter and I do go onto YouTube and Google as I mentioned earlier, but only when we are together, so to ensure she doesn’t find her way on there when I’m not looking I have disabled them. It’s a bit of a pain as I have to turn it back on again when I want to use it, but I’d rather be safer than sorry.

How to Turn off You Tube and Safari

4.) Set Media Parameters, again it’s in restrictions but you can decide what age range you are comfortable with when watching films or accessing apps. However, if you are using any other subscription-based film services like LoveFilm, you may also have to change the settings there as well. The instructions can be found here.

Setting Age Restrictions

5.) On the iPad the default is 15 minutes for needing to re-enter a password for purchases.  Change this to ‘Immediately’, otherwise they have plenty of time to run up a bill buying stuff.

Change time limit for entering password

When using the PC

My daughter rarely uses the PC unless I’m with her and to be honest, I’d rather she use the iPad so that I can get on with my work or faffing around on social networks. But when she does, these are a few things that I have done:

6.) I’ve made a folder for her with a list of favourite sites, which reduces the chances of her getting onto an inappropriate site, but it’s not fail safe.

7.) I have turned on Safe Search Mode on Google so when we are searching together it reduces the chances of us coming across anything unsavoury. Look for the ‘cog’ in the top right corner and select search settings, you should see it in there!

8.)  It’s not 100% accurate, but I have also switched on Safety Mode on YouTube.

9.)  Make sure your anti-virus software is up to date in case, god forbid, they manage to download something dodgy. I personally use AVG Free.

10.) And lastly, this is true for any type of technology whether it’s a tablet, phone, computer or gaming console. Always keep them in a busy place in the house, so you can keep an eye on what they get up to. We rarely allow the iPad to go up into her room, unless I’m having one of my lazy parenting moments. We can get away with this at the moment as she is only five, but we will cross the next hurdle when we get to it.

Hopefully, this has helped in some way. Do leave any other tips in the comment section below. Go safe out there!

A huge thank you to Geek Mummy and Violet Posy for their valuable contributions to this post.







Don’t tell your mum….

On the face of it this is a pretty harmless statement.  My husband often says this to our daughter when he’s taken her for a cheeky McDonalds, given her ice-cream before dinner or sloped off for a sneaky pint at the pub.  I’ve also been know to say ‘don’t tell your father’ if I’ve bought her something she really doesn’t need and we really can’t afford.

But, just imagine someone outside of your immediate family saying this; a sports coach, an estranged family member or some other unsavoury person.  It doesn’t have the same innocent ring to it does it?

This is why I’ve asked my husband not to say it and I’m going to try not to use it either.  I do know that some secrets are safe (gifts, surprise parties or harmless whispering in the playground between friends), but some are not.  I don’t want to instil that keeping secrets is okay.

When she is old enough, I hope to teach her the difference between good and bad secrets but at the moment I think she may be too young.

What do you think?

This great bit of advice was original given to me by my good mate, AnnieQPR.