Apple TV 4: Restrictions and Parental Controls

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The Passcode has one serious flaw. If you enter the Passcode with the on-screen keyboard, anyone can see the numbers you enter. You can avoid this by using the Remote app for iOS, which is free and available in the App Store. This app turns your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch into a remote control for your Apple TV. The Remote app allows you to use the on-screen keyboard on your iOS device, instead of the one displayed on your television.

The Passcode can also be removed by resetting all Apple TV settings. If your kids are smart enough to reset Apple TV, they will need your Apple ID password to gain access to services. Make sure that your Apple ID and other account information is kept private. This will prevent unauthorized purchases and access to content.

With the Passcode enabled, restricted content can only be accessed by entering the four digit code. This can be inconvenient, however, a four digit code can be entered in just a few seconds. If you find this to be too cumbersome, you can always turn Restrictions off by clicking on the Restrictions field. Next, enter your four digit Passcode. Just remember to turn Restrictons back on again after you are finished, if you want to resume access control.

Now that Restrictions are enabled and your Passcode is set, you can fine-tune access. Restrictions offer the ability to restrict both content and in-app purchases. Under the iTunes Store section, users can allow or restrict purchases and rentals. This also applies to the App Store, even for free apps. When Purchases and Rentals is set to Restrict, any iTunes or App Store transaction requires Passcode authorization. If In-App Purchases is set to Block, they are completely blocked. One must set this back to Allow in order to make an in-app purchase. Unfortunately, there is no option to restrict in-app purchases with a Passcode.

The Allowed Content section enables configuration of different levels of content restrictions. These operate as filters but can be overridden with a Passcode. You will still see these titles in the iTunes Store and App Store, however, only items with the appropriate ratings can be purchased or rented without a Passcode. For example, if you have Movies set to only allow a G rating, you will still see all of the movies in the iTunes store, but you can only purchase or rent movies with a G rating. You must enter a Passcode to purchase or rent an R rated movie.

If you already have iTunes Store purchases and rentals set to Restrict, every transaction will be Passcode protected. This may be sufficient protection for purchasing, but it won’t restrict access to downloaded items. You can also enable iTunes Store purchases, while setting movie ratings to G. This would allow your children to purchase and rent iTunes movies freely, but only those with a G rating.

Allowed Content settings for TV shows, movies and apps also provide Passcode protection for purchased and downloaded items. For example, any TV show or movie rated more mature than the Restriction setting can only be opened with a Passcode. This is why you may want to restrict both iTunes Store purchases and Allowed Content settings. If you just do the former, your children can still access any mature content that you have already downloaded. (continue…)

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