Just months after a group of shareholders sent a letter to Apple requesting the company address the “growing public health crisis” of childhood cell phone addiction, the tech giant is taking action. On Thursday, March 15, Apple announced a new Families page on its website, showcasing its existing parental controls in iOS and Mac OS.
While the Families page does not provide any new features, it allows parents to quickly identify and access current features that may fall under the radar. The site also provides tutorials on how to set up the features available to caregivers.
The site categorizes features by different use scenarios. For example, there is a section that highlights all of the different features to ensure your child is downloading and viewing appropriate content. It includes features like Apple’s Ask to Buy option that allows guardians the choice of approving each app purchase individual versus setting up certain static parameters where children can automatically download apps. You can also learn about in-app purchase controls that can cause unexpected charges to appear on your credit card.
In addition to providing information on lots of app-based controls, the Families page also provides guidance on how to use built-in features in iOS to restrict inappropriate content as well. Guided tutorials are provided to show parents how to restrict inappropriate media downloads through iTunes. There is also a tutorial that shows caregivers how to use built-in web filters to restrict inappropriate content on the web.
Although parental controls play a key role on the Families page, Apple is also highlighting the health features available on its products. These range from basic fitness-tracking features on the Apple Watch, to the Medical ID page on the iPhone that provides urgent health and contact information in the event of an emergency.
To be clear, the Families page does not present any new features, it provides information on all the features that are currently available. While the page makes it easier to identify and set up solutions best for your family, it’s has yet to provide any of the new features Apple promised to address cellphone misuse and addiction in children. We anticipate some of these new features will be announced later in 2018 at the World Wide Developers Conference where the company is expected to announce iOS 12 and other annual software updates.