How to Set Up an iPhone or iPod touch for Kids

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

Illustration of a child holding an iPhone with thought-bubbles saying Enter Passcode, Cannot Open Page, Set Up Find My iPhone, and Protective Case

 Miguel Co @Lifewire

It's no surprise that ​the iPhone and iPod touch are loved by kids and teens the world over — and​ that they're 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.

Despite that appeal, parents may also have some concerns about an iPod for kids, citing unsupervised access to the internet and social networking apps. An iPhone for kids is equally concerning, with texting and calls that can be made between your child and anyone else with a phone.

If you're in this situation, this article covers 13 tips for ways 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

Kid playing with iPhone
Adam Hester/Blend Images/Getty Images

The iPhone and iPod touch require an Apple ID for setup and to allow downloads from the iTunes Store, like for music, movies, apps, and other content. The Apple ID is also used for features like 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 once Family Sharing comes into play, which we'll go over below).

Once you've set up an Apple ID for your child, make sure to use that account when setting up the iPhone or iPod touch for them.

Set Up the iPod touch or iPhone

resetting iphone
iPhone image: KP Photograph/Shutterstock

With the Apple ID created, next up is the setup process. Here are some step-by-step tutorials: 

You can set up the device on its 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 pay attention to.

First, when syncing things like an address book and calendar, make sure that you only sync data specific to your child or your family (you may need to create a special family calendar or make a group of contacts for this). This ensures that your child's device only has information for them on it, rather than all of your business contacts.

Set a Passcode to Protect the Device

Close-up of iphone with passcode screen

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 has to enter every time the device is used from the lock screen.

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 tip).

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 the device your child is getting offers it, you should 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, it's probably a good idea to set up both your finger and your child's. Face ID only works with one face per device, so set it up using your child's.

Set Up Find My iPhone

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 won't necessarily be forced to buy a new one — not if you've got Find My iPhone set up, that is.

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 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 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 using devices
image copyright Hero Images/Getty Images

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.

For example, let's say you buy an eBook on your iPhone and your kids want to read it. With Family Sharing, your kids simply open their Books app to 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.

The only weird wrinkle of Family Sharing is that once you've added a kid under 13 years old to your Family Sharing group, you can't remove them until they turn 13.

Set Restrictions on Mature Content

iphone privacy settings
image copyright Jonathan McHugh/Ikon Images/Getty Images

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

What restrictions you want to enable will depend on your child's age and maturity, your values and preferences, and a number of other factors. Things you'll want to consider limiting include access to mature content, the ability to use some apps, blocking in-app purchases, and limiting data use.

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 from the iTunes Store.

If you're concerned about your child visiting websites with adult content, or content that simply doesn't keep in line with your values, you may want to block certain websites on their device.

Install Some Great New Apps

buy apps for every iOS device?
image credit: Innocenti/Cultura/Getty Images

There are two kinds of apps you may want to install on 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, too. You don't have to install apps, but you'd be heavily restricting the device's potential not to.

For example, 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 the older kids, and kids apps for your young ones.

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.

Consider a Family Subscription to Apple Music

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

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

Apple Music lets you can stream virtually any of the over 50 million songs in the iTunes Store and even save them to your device for offline 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 lot. Plus, since up to six people can share a family subscription, you're getting a great deal.

To some, Apple Music is an essential part of owning an iPhone or iPod touch, no matter your age.

Get a Protective Case

iPhone battery 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 — so 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, of course, but it may protect the device from damage when it's dropped.

Cases cost about $30–$100 USD, so shop around for something that looks good and meets the needs of your and your child. There are even waterproof phone cases and strong OtterBox cases.

Consider a Screen Protector

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

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 your investment by adding another layer of defense to the phone with a screen protector.​​

Screen protectors can prevent scratches, ​avoid cracks in the screen, and reduce other damage that make the device harder to use. ​Just make sure you apply the screen protector correctly.

A package of a couple of screen protectors tends to run $10–$15 USD. While they're not as essential as a case, the low cost of screen protectors make them a smart investment to keep an iPhone or iPod touch in good working order.

Consider an Extended Warranty

applecare+ warranty
iPhone and AppleCare images: Apple

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 $100–$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.

Many people warn against extended warranties, saying that they're ways to companies to get extra money from you for services that are often never used. That might be true, generally, and might be a good reason to not get AppleCare for your iPhone.

But you know your kid better than anyone; if they tend to break things, an extended warranty might be a good investment.

Never Buy Phone Insurance

Broken iPhone
image credit Tyler Finck Open/Getty Images

If you're 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 say they add just a small cost to your monthly bill.

Don't be fooled: never buy phone insurance.

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. Our readers have also reported 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. If you want to invest in extra protection for your phone, AppleCare is a better — and often cheaper — bet.

Learn About and Prevent Hearing Damage

woman listening to ipod with headphones
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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, if they spend a lot of time listening to music.

As part of giving the gift, learn about how using the iPod touch and iPhone can damage your child's hearing and discuss ways to avoid that 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.