Born of my experiences and grave concern for today’s families, I started studying Apple’s parental controls 18 months ago. I wanted to be prepared for the Pandora’s box I knew I would be opening when I bequeathed my 11-year-old daughter with my hand-me-down iPhone, and I wanted to better understand the angst of my generation.
Since then, I’ve spent 100-plus hours researching the existing functionality, talking with experienced parents and conducting focus groups to understand the complexities involved when parenting technology, and what the barriers are to using Apple’s parental controls.
After counting 393 steps to set up parental controls for the five devices I manage, I can tell you that not only is Apple’s existing offering onerous and labyrinthine, but also that we parents do not have the technology we need.
Raising kids in this digital age is a tricky game, and I often feel as though I have a devil and an angel on my shoulders. Although I want to encourage our kids in their development of 21st-century skills and prepare them for future STEM careers, I’m also concerned about the addictive nature of these devices.
Further, I find it negligent that there is no automatic notification of available parental controls when we create an Apple ID or set up a new device.
In my research, I found that parents just don’t know, and how would they without proper outreach? This is particularly alarming when the default settings on all Apple devices are set to allow explicit content.
I don’t believe this, and that’s why I sent Apple chief executive Tim Cook this three-page letter offering to share my insight with his engineering team.
Barring the chance he reads it and actually does something about these ideas, I have created this Parental Controls Resource Guide for parents of younger children to inform them of Apple’s basic functionality and to show them how to use it.
In my experience, parents are increasingly playing the role of chief technology officer of their households, and we are on the front lines dealing with the daily aggravations these devices impose on our interactions with our kids. It could and should be so much easier, and I’m concerned that Apple doesn’t understand the severity of the problem.
Instead of just sitting back and accepting what Silicon Valley hands us, we need to advocate for the technology we need. We cannot afford to be bystanders to our future.