Giving a Kid an iPhone or iPod touch? Do This First.

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

With its great multimedia, gaming, and Internet features, the iPhone and iPod touch are loved by kids and teens the world over—and many ask for one as a present for holidays or birthdays. Parents want to oblige but may also have some concerns about giving their kids unsupervised access to the Internet. If you're in that situation, this article offers 13 steps to take before giving your child an iPod touch or iPhone.

Kid playing with iPhone
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The iPod touch and iPhone require an Apple ID (aka an iTunes account) for set up and to allow the user to download music, movies, apps, or other content from the iTunes Store. The Apple ID is also used for features like iMessage, FaceTime, and Find My iPhone. Your child can use yours, but it's better to have your child have their own Apple ID account.

If your child has their own computer, you can set the account up there and leave them logged in. If your family shares one computer, you can set it up there, too. Just remember that each person should log out of their Apple ID when they're done. More »

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Set Up Your iPod touch or iPhone

resetting iphone
iPhone image: KP Photograph/Shutterstock

With the iTunes account created, you'll want to set up the device.

You can set the devices up on their own or do it using a computer. If you're setting the device up on a shared family computer, there are a few details to take note of.

In the Info tab, you'll want to make sure to only sync an address book specific to your child (rather than, say, all of your business contacts), a calendar specific to your child, and be sure not to sync your email accounts to the device to prevent them from reading or replying to your email.

If your child has their own email account, you can sync it (or create one for them to sync).

Close-up of iphone with passcode screen

A passcode is a great way to protect an iPod touch or iPhone. It's a security code that you or your child will have to enter every time you want to use the device. You'll want one of these in place in case your kid loses the device—you wouldn't want a stranger to get access to any family information (more on dealing with a lost or stolen device in the next step).

Make sure to use a passcode that both you and your child can remember. It's possible to reset an iPhone or iPod touch with a lost passcode, but you can lose data and there's no need to put yourself in a situation in the first place.

If you're giving an iPhone, you should use the Touch ID fingerprint scanner for an added layer of security. More »

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

If your child loses their iPod touch or iPhone, or has it stolen, you're not necessarily going to be forced to buy a new one—not if you've got Find My iPhone.

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 devices to help you track, and hopefully recover, the lost gadget. You can also use Find My iPhone to lock the device over the Internet or delete all its data to keep it away from thieves.

Learn how to use Find My iPhone in this article. More »

family using devices
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Family Sharing is a way for everyone in a family to be able to access each other's iTunes and App Store purchases without having to pay a second time.

For example, let's say you buy an ebook on your iPhone and your kids want to read it. With Family Sharing enabled, your kids simply go into the Purchases section of iBooks and can download the book for free. This is a great way to save money and make sure everyone has the same content and apps. You can also hide more mature purchases so they're not available to your kids. More »

buy apps for every iOS device?
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There are two kinds of apps you may want to install on your child's iOS device: those for fun and for safety.

The App Store is full of terrific, versatile programs: from great recipes to managing fantasy sports teams, from discovering new music to keeping up with the news. There are tons of great games and what your teen might be most interested in: free texting apps. You don't have to install apps, but there may be educational or useful apps (or games!) you want them to have.

Additionally, there are 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 tend to have both upfront and service fees attached to them, but you may find them valuable.

Spend some time searching the App Store with your child and you're bound to find some great options. More »

iphone privacy settings
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Apple has built tools into the iOS—the operating system used by the iPod touch and iPhone—to let parents control the content and apps their children can access.

Use the Content Restrictions to protect your kids from inappropriate content and from doing things like having video chats (innocent enough with friends, but certainly not with strangers). Be sure to use a different passcode than the one used to protect the phone in step 3.

If your child has their own computer, you may also want to also consider using the Parental Controls built into iTunes to prevent them from accessing mature material at the iTunes Store. More »

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

Your entire can family can enjoy unlimited music for just US$15/month if you sign up for Apple Music.

With it, you can stream virtually any of the 30 million songs in the iTunes Store and even save them to your device for listening when you're not connected to the Internet. This makes for a great way to provide a ton of music to your kids without spending a ton. And, since up to 6 people can share a family subscription, you're getting a great deal.

To me, this is an essential part of owning an iPhone or iPod touch, no matter your age. More »

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Kids have a habit of treating things roughly, to say nothing of dropping things. With a device as expensive as an iPod touch or iPhone, you don't want that habit to lead to a broken present.

Buying a good protective case won't prevent your child from dropping their iPod touch or iPhone, but it may protect the touch from damage. Cases cost about $20-$100, so shop around for something that looks good and meets the needs of your and your child. More »

BodyGuardz Screen Protector
image credit Bodyguardz

Most cases don't protect the iPhone's or iPod touch's screen, which means they can be damaged in falls, pockets, or backpacks. 

Buying a screen protector can prevent scratches, cracks in the screen, and other damage that make the device harder to use. A package of a couple of screen protectors tends to run $10-$15. That's a good investment to keep the iPod touch or iPhone in good condition. More »

iPhone image and AppleCare image copyright Apple Inc.

While the standard iPhone and iPod warranty is decent, with the device in the hands of a child, more damage than normal may be in your future. One way to deal with that, and save money while doing it, is to purchase an extended warranty from Apple. Called AppleCare, the extended warranty generally costs around $100 and extends full repair coverage and technical support for two years (the basic warranty is around 90 days).

An extended warranty isn't a requirement, but if your child tends to break things, it might be a good investment. More »

woman listening to ipod with headphones
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You'll want to learn about how using the iPod touch and iPhone can damage your child's hearing and discuss this with them. Not all uses are dangerous, of course, so you'll want to pick up some tips and stress the importance of following them to your child, especially since their hearing is probably still developing. More »

Broken iPhone
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If you're already thinking about protecting the phone with a case and buying an extended warranty, getting phone insurance instead might seem like a good idea. Phone companies will push the idea and offer to just add a small cost to your monthly bill.

Don't buy phone insurance.

The deductibles for some insurance plans are as much as a new phone, and many insurance companies replace your new phone with a used one without telling you. Readers of this site have also reported dozens and dozens of instances of poor customer service from their companies.

Phone insurance may seem tempting, but it's a wasted expense that will only frustrate you in the long run. More »

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