How to Set Up an iPhone or iPod touch for Kids

Take these steps to keep your kids — and your wallet — safe

The iPhone and iPod touch are loved by kids and teens, and​ these devices are commonly requested ​​​as holiday and birthday presents. These devices are also appealing to parents as a way to stay in touch with and keep track of their kids. If your kid wants an iPhone or iPod, there are steps you can take to supervise their access to the internet, limit their time on social networking apps, and decide which text messages and calls can be made.

Here are 13 tips to set up an iPhone or iPod touch for kids that will keep them safe and won't break your bank.

Create an Apple ID for Your Kids

Illustration of a child holding an iPhone with Enter Passcode, Cannot Open Page, Set Up Find My iPhone, and Protective Case
Lifewire /  Miguel Co

The iPhone and iPod touch require an Apple ID for setup and to allow downloads from the iTunes Store for music, movies, apps, and other content. The Apple ID is also used for features such as iMessage, FaceTime, and Find My iPhone.

Your child can use your Apple ID, but it's better to set up a separate Apple ID for them (especially when using Family Sharing).

After you set up an Apple ID for your child, use the child's account when setting up the iPhone or iPod touch for them.

Set Up the iPod touch or iPhone

With the Apple ID created, the next step is to set up the device. The directions to set up the iPhone, iPod touch​, and iPad are slightly different, but for all devices, you can set up the device on its own or use a computer.

resetting iphone
KP Photograph / Shutterstock

When setting up the device on a shared family computer, sync data specific to the child. If the information is for the entire family, create a special family calendar or make a group of contacts that syncs on the child's device. This ensures that your child's device only has information for them on it and not your business contacts.

Set a Passcode to Protect the Device

A passcode is an important way to protect the contents of an iPhone or iPod touch from prying eyes. It's a security code that you or your child enters every time the device is used from the Lock screen.

Enter passcode screen of an iPhone running iOS 9
ymgerman / Getty Images

Set a passcode on the iPhone or iPod in case the device is lost or stolen. That way, strangers won't have access to any family information. Use a passcode that you and your child can remember. It's possible to reset an iPhone or iPod touch with a lost passcode, but you'll lose data.

If the device offers it, use the Touch ID fingerprint scanner (or the Face ID facial recognition system on the iPhone X and newer) for an added layer of security.

With Touch ID, set up both your finger and your child's finger. Face ID only works with one face per device, so set it up using your child's face.

Set Up Find My iPhone

If your child's iPhone is lost or stolen, you won't need to buy a new one if Find My iPhone is set up. Find My iPhone (which also works for the iPod touch and iPad) is a web-based service from Apple that uses the built-in GPS features of the device to track and recover it.

find my iphone on macbook air
Laptop image: mama_mia / Shutterstock

You can also use Find My iPhone to lock the device over the internet or delete all of its data to keep it away from thieves.

Once you've set up Find My iPhone​, which can be done as part of the initial setup process or later on, learn how to use it to locate a lost device.

Set Up Family Sharing

Family Sharing is a great way for everyone in a family to access each other's iTunes and App Store purchases without having to pay for them more than once. With Family Sharing, you can, for example, buy an e-book on your iPhone and your kids can open their Books app to download the book for free.

Family Sharing is a great way to save money and make sure everyone has the same content and apps. You don't have to share all of your iTunes downloads with your kids. Hide mature purchases so they're not available to your kids.

When you add a kid who is under 13 years old to your Family Sharing group, you can't remove them until they turn 13.

Set Restrictions on Mature Content

Apple built tools into iOS so that parents can control the content and apps their children access. Use the Restrictions tools to protect your kids from inappropriate content and from doing things such as have video chats (innocent enough with friends, but certainly not with strangers).

The restrictions you enable depend on your child's age and maturity, your values and preferences, and other factors. Consider limiting access to mature content, some apps, in-app purchases, and data use.

If your child has their own computer, use the parental controls built into iTunes to prevent them from accessing mature material in the iTunes Store.

If you're concerned about your child visiting websites with adult content or content that doesn't reflect your values, block these types of websites on their device.

Install Some Great New Apps

There are two kinds of apps for your child's device: apps for fun and apps for safety. The App Store is full of terrific, versatile programs, and there are tons of great games. There's an endless supply of educational apps kids can use, plus things like free texting apps for devices without a texting plan, location trackers, homework apps, driving apps for older kids, and apps for your young ones.

There are also a number of apps that can monitor your child's use of the internet and block them from accessing adult and other inappropriate sites. These apps may have upfront and service fees. Search the App Store with your child to find some great options.

Consider a Family Subscription to Apple Music

If you plan to listen to music as a family, or if you have an individual Apple Music subscription, consider a family subscription. With it, your entire can family can enjoy unlimited music for $15 per month.

On the Apple Music family subscription, you can stream any of the over 50 million songs in the iTunes Store and save them to your device for offline listening when you're not connected to the internet.

how to set individual ringtones on iphone
Mark Mawson / Taxi / Getty Images

This makes for a great way to provide a ton of music to your kids without spending a lot. Plus, since up to six people can share a family subscription, you're getting a great deal.

Get a Protective Case

Kids have a habit of treating things roughly, to say nothing of dropping things. With a device as expensive as an iPhone, you don't want that habit to lead to a broken phone. Get a good case to protect the device. Buying a good protective case won't prevent your child from dropping their iPod touch or iPhone, but it may protect the device from damage when it's dropped.

Cases cost between $30 and $100. Shop around for something that looks good and meets your needs and your child wants. There are also waterproof phone cases and strong OtterBox cases.

Consider a Screen Protector

Most cases don't protect the screen of the iPhone or iPod touch, which means it can be damaged in falls, pockets, or backpacks. Consider further protecting the device by adding another layer of defense to the phone with a screen protector.​​

JETech 3-Pack iPhone 6S/6 Screen Protector Film
JETech

Screen protectors prevent scratches, ​avoid cracks in the screen, and reduce other damage that makes the device hard to use. To get the best protection, ​apply the screen protector correctly.

A package of screen protectors is between $10 and $15. While not as essential as a case, the low cost of screen protectors makes them a smart investment to keep an iPhone or iPod touch in good working order.

Consider an Extended Warranty

While the standard iPhone and iPod warranty is solid, a child may accidentally do more damage than normal to an iPhone or iPod touch. One way to deal with that, and to make sure that your wallet doesn't get damaged at the same time, is to purchase an extended warranty from Apple.

Called AppleCare+, the extended warranty generally costs between $100 and $150 (it differs based on the model iPhone you have) and extends the basic 90-day warranty that comes with all iPhones to two years of full repair coverage and technical support.

applecare+ warranty
Apple

Many people warn against extended warranties, saying that these warranties are a way for companies to get extra money for services that are often never used. But you know your kid better than anyone. If your child tends to break things, an extended warranty might be a good investment.

Never Buy Phone Insurance

If you protect the phone with a case and buy an extended warranty, phone insurance isn't necessary. Phone companies push phone insurance that adds a small cost to your monthly bill. The deductibles for some insurance plans cost as much as a new phone, and many insurance companies replace your new phone with a used one without telling you.

Phone insurance may seem tempting, but it's a wasted expense that will frustrate you in the long run. If you want extra protection for your phone, AppleCare is a better and often cheaper choice.

Learn About and Prevent Hearing Damage

The iPhone and iPod touch ​can be addicting, and your child may end up using them all the time. This can be a problem, especially for young ears that spend a lot of time listening to music.

woman listening to ipod with headphones
Michael H / Digital Vision / Getty Images

As part of giving the gift, learn how using the iPod touch and iPhone can damage hearing and talk with your kids about ways to avoid hearing loss. Not all uses are dangerous, so pick up some tips and stress the importance of good hearing to your child, especially since their hearing is still developing.