If you’ve decided it’s time for your child to have a smartphone, a simple, inexpensive solution is to give them your old iPhone. You can keep it as a WiFi-only device or add it to your cellphone plan through your carrier’s “bring your own phone” option, which lets your child make and receive calls, send text messages and use data to access the Internet.
Whichever option you choose, follow these steps to turn your old phone into an age-appropriate device.
Set up an Apple ID for your child
Creating an Apple ID for your child gives you control over their phone by linking it to your account through Family Sharing. It also turns the phone into a WiFi-calling device, allowing your child to use WiFi to call or text other iPhones using their Apple ID email address, even if they aren’t on your family plan. Other benefits include:
» Tracking the device using Find My Friends.
» The option to activate Screen Time controls.
» Restricting app downloads by enabling Ask to Buy.
» Letting you share any apps you’ve already purchased.
To set up your child’s Apple ID, go to your iPhone settings, tap your name and choose Family Sharing — Add Family Member — Create a Child Account.
Erase the old iPhone
Once you’ve connected your child’s Apple ID to your account, you’ll want to reset the phone to remove any apps or information you don’t want them to access. To do this, go to Settings — General — Reset — Erase All Content and Settings. Now you can set the phone up as new.
Set up the iPhone as a new device
Sign into the phone using your child’s Apple ID and connect it to your home WiFi network. Give the device a passcode and if it has Touch ID, add both your and your child’s fingerprint during setup so you can access the phone at any time.
Choose age- appropriate apps
Once the phone is set up, go to the App Store’s account page and tap “Purchased” to see every app that you have downloaded. You can re-download any purchased apps to your child’s phone without paying again and delete any pre-installed apps they won’t need.
Enable parental controls
With iOS 12, Apple introduced Screen Time as a way to manage how much time is spent on each device. It’s not just for kids, but it’s a great way to control how (and how often) your child is using their phone. Screen Time has five key features:
» Downtime: Disable the phone during certain periods.
» App Limits: Set daily limits for apps in different categories.
» Content and Privacy Restrictions: Choose age restrictions for content in the App Store and iTunes and manage privacy and data sharing.
» Always Allowed: Always allows access to certain apps.
» Weekly Report: Generates a weekly report that breaks down how the device is being used.
You can control Screen Time from your child’s device using a parental passcode and from your device under Settings & Screen Time.
The decision to give your child a smartphone is a personal one. Once you’ve decided your child is ready, an old iPhone can offer robust tools that allow you to monitor and control the content they access, giving you some peace of mind as you navigate the tricky path of digital parenting.
Jennifer Pattison Tuohy is a freelance writer and contributor for Xfinity Mobile. She writes about mobile phone technology, consumer tech, small businesses and green living for a variety of newspapers, magazines and online publications.