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Lock It Down

I'm a fairly techy (if that is a word) guy, so over the years I've had countless people ask my advise on locking down phones and devices from harmful content.  Whether that is someone fighting issues with pornography or a parent trying to protect their kids who got new devices for Christmas.  Everyone was looking for a simple, single solution.  Unfortunately, simple solutions haven't been easy to find until now.  Check out two ways that you can adjust your phone settings to protect yourself and those that you love.  (I will be sharing tips for iOS users with the Chrome browser because those are the devices and browsers that my family and I use.)  So, here it is:

1.   Enable SafeSearch in your Google search settings.  While SafeSearch isn't 100% accurate, it’s designed to help block explicit results, like pornography, from your Google search results.   With the click of one button, your Google searches can be filtered and protected from unwanted content.   Learn how to enable SafeSearch here.

2.  Set limits within the iOS Screen Time settings.  Screen Time includes settings that some use to limit the amount of time spent on devices.  Just as important, it set's limits on what can be seen on and done with devices, too.   With just a few clicks, you are ready to go.  Let's start by opening Screen Time and clicking on Content & Privacy Restrictions.  (The language here feels strong, but trust me, there are some good protections here.

  • Click on iTunes & App Store Purchases and choose the Installing Apps option.  Choose don't allow.  This will keep apps and browers from being added that might bypass SafeSearch and other protections.  You may also want to disable In-app Purchases if gaming and purchases made within apps becomes an issue.
  • Click on Allowed Apps and disable Safari.  Remember the safe guards that I am recommended start with the Google Chrome browser.
  • Click on Content Restrictions and choose the allowed content for the device.   Under Web Content, check Limit Adult Websites.  This will keep adult content from being displayed on the device even if workarounds such as Incognito Mode are attempted.

Once these settings are in place, return to the landing page for Screen Time and select Use Screen Time Passcode.  Here, you can set up a 4 digit passcode that prevents unwanted changes to Screen Time.  Here's a hint from my experience:  put that passcode in your phone notes or in a specific location at home so that you have access to it when you need it.  When you are setting things up, you could never imagine forgetting the code you have selected, but trust me, you will.

If all of these steps seem overwhelming, you can also use the Family Link App to manage device settings and permissions.