Traveling with Kids – Pro Tip

We travel for holidays and other times throughout the year. We have a 5 year old van. It has a DVD player.

We have some DVDs but not a ton, most media is digital. The van has no way to hook it up.

Here is what I do and this is a pretty good tip if you can do it.

Find a Redbox in the city you are in – Walgreens usually has one. Rent a few DVDs for one night, maybe 5 bucks.

Then at your destination – drop them off. Works every time!

iPads and Kids

If you had kids, and an iPad, they may try to unlock it themselves. You may run into a situation where you see something like this

Image result for ipad is disabled
This is a representation of what my iPad just looked like.

In this case, there are two things you can do. Well, besides waiting 1 million years.

  1. If you have find my iPhone set up you can remotely wipe it. That works if the iPad is connected to Wifi.
  2. If you have your computer, you can connect it, open iTunes and hard reset it. iTunes will ask you to update or restore. Restore it. You can then set it up fresh or restore from backup once it comes back up

Seems like this is a problem that should be solvable somehow 🙂

The State of Parental Controls going into 2019

Kids are now growing up in a digital age. Screens are part of their lives from day one. As they grow, they want to use devices and play games and do whatever everyone else is doing. I am not going to debate if this is a good or bad thing – but it is a reality. 

Major tech companies have taken notice and they have been (and still are in progress) releasing ways for parents to keep tabs on their kids’ device and screen time usage. 

Of course, the big three – Apple, Google, Microsoft – have their solutions. Also other players like Facebook, Nintendo, Sony have solutions for their products as well.

Apple

Let’s start with Apple. There are few different things Apple has had and now just recently came out with to help parents. Up until iOS 12 they had “Family” groups you could create – not so much for managing screen time, but for creating a group where family members can share purchases, location, etc.

As a parent you can set up an Apple/iCloud account for a minor and then incorporate them into your “Family”. A parent also had to set up “restrictions” in iOS settings for each device for a kid. Kids can ask permission to install apps, and parents devices get an alert to allow or deny. 

What NOT to do: I have seen too many parents just sign in as themselves and give their kids a device. Please DON’T do this! Kids can really mess up your accounts. Another thing would be just giving kid unmanaged device with no account. You lose a lot of shared benefits of having an account for your kid under your family.

With the latest release Apple came out with “Screen Time” – for users to manage their own digital wellbeing on their own devices, but this also lets parents manage screen time on kids devices under the family group. 

Screen Time - Kid Device Management

You then get a weekly report of Screen Time for your kid and can change settings etc through Screen Time on what apps are allowed, etc. 

So, what’s missing? Well – for one – some devices have TouchId or FaceId – how does a parent set that up and still get into a device physically? Up to you. For now on my family devices, no passcodes or 2 factor auth – it is just too much overhead and messy to manage with kids. 

Google

Google has something similar for managing kids devices – it is called “Family Link” – but you need to install and configure it. Similarly to Apple screen time you can manage what apps and time spent and other settings on devices. It works on Android devices so if you are running a Google Android device but your kid has an old iPad or iPhone you are out of luck. 

Google Family Link App

Recently they announced you can run Family Link on Chromebooks (ChromeOS) as well – but I have yet to get this working. It is supposed to work similarly to Android where you can manage the apps and see usage, set screen time etc.

I have found that Google support around Family Link is more responsive than other Google support I have tried to reach out to, but I still cannot get it working on my daughters Chromebook.

One thing to note as well, and maybe I can follow up on this one after I get it working – but you need to create a google account for your kid (just like Apple). If you manage it, it should be okay. But – your kid might already have a Google Account through their school district. It starts getting tricky here. You as a parent cannot “manage” that account. I think there is a way to link them. So the kid would login to your Chromebook with their kid google account, and then still be able to get to google classroom or login to chrome (google docs, etc) with the school account. Time will tell. It is messy right now.

YouTube (owned by Google) is another story. YouTube is really a cesspool of crap if you get down the rabbit hole. There have been many articles and cries for help to Google/YouTube to let parents better regulate what their kids see. YouTube STILL doesn’t let you block entire channels. This is a big miss.

Also, if you have shared devices (like an Apple TV, etc) with YouTube and you login as the adult – the kids sees your recommendations. What kids watch screw up your recommendations. Switching between accounts is not easy (Netflix does this pretty well).

YouTube Kids is an app that is made for “kids” – and is supposed to filter out junk – but it isn’t foolproof. Parents are usually going to take the easy route, and YouTube website/main app etc are going to be the go to. In my opinion – the filtering on YouTube and parental control is one of the big problems Google needs to tackle, and soon.

Google also has a bunch of features, not so much parental controls, that they are coming out for around Google Home around reading books with your kids, stories, etc. Try them out sometime if you can, they are pretty cool. With four kids in the house, reading to one of them, while one reads themselves, while the other says “Hey google, tell me a story” is a lifesaver, especially when one parent is away for an evening.

Microsoft

Microsoft has very similar setups to Apple and Google – but of course a little different. With Microsoft, you can setup an account for your child and tie it to your “family” – but you can use an existing email (so if you have a gmail or icloud from Apple or Google you can use that).

Microsoft Family Home Page

The only real devices you can manage from Microsoft are Windows devices and Xbox.

You can allow a child to login to a Windows device and restrict time and apps. One big miss here though is that you can only manage web browsing with Edge, and not other browsers. My kid uses Chrome – because they are used to it with Google Chromebooks at school, but I cannot manage their browser usage, etc. Big bummer

Managing Screen Time for Microsoft Devices

With Xbox you can manage screen time and game limits and ratings, etc. Works pretty well

Nintendo

Nintendo has an app you can download and tie it to your Nintendo switch. You can use it as parental control and set time limits and game limits etc. I don’t use it for that as I manage that pretty close directly with my kids but a nice feature of the app is it tracks play time, and that is good even to see for myself!

Nintendo Parental Control App
Nintendo Switch – Play Time

Facebook

Facebook. Not sure on this one as I deactivated my account recently and I am about to jump ship due to their creepiness, scandals, privacy issues, etc.

I did try out Facebook Messenger for Kids this summer. It lets your kid sign up just for Messenger for Kids, not Facebook. They can add their friends, but both kids parents have to allow it. Also, parents can limit usage time and also install the app on their device and see all messages, etc.

This app works well if your kid wants to message their friend from their old iPhone using iMessage – but their friend has their parents old Android device and it won’t work.

Netflix & Hulu

I mentioned it earlier, but Netflix does have a way to create a “profile” that is deemed “kids” and is pre-filtered to kids specific shows. You can set it for “little kids” or “older kids and younger”. This works fairly well in practice.

It is easy enough for kids to just change profiles though. Maybe having non kid profiles pin controlled would be a good addition? Also, we have one for “Family” that has things we might all watch together vs just Paw Patrol episodes 🙂

Profile for Kids in Netflix
Edit Profile – Kids – Netflix

Hulu has a very similar setup. Profile for kids, can see kids shows.

Choose Profile Screen on Hulu – Web
Set Programming to “Kid Friendly” – Hulu

Sony

Sony has a way to set up parental controls on Playstation. You can set up a profile for your kid – but you need an email address. You can restrict games and screen time, etc.

I have a Playstation but haven’t set these up myself as my kids don’t play on it. Yet.

Amazon

Amazon has a way to set parental controls, I really can’t speak to them as I have no real Amazon devices where you set this up – but here is a link to assist if you’ve read this far.

Summary

Okay, so there is a lot going on here. Your mileage may vary. Your family is going to be different than mine. More or less kids, different ages. Also, your tech profile won’t be the same. Different devices, platforms and operating systems.

As you can see, for the big companies, you need to set up an email address for your children and manage their profiles, and connect them to your family. Then they offer you ways to restrict time on devices and also different types of content, etc.

There are also ways some of the smaller or ancillary players let you manage children use time and parental controls. I hope you found this useful, hit me up in the comments with any questions!

Why The Surface (and Windows 8.1) Makes The Most Sense for Parents and Kids

I use many different devices. iOS, Android, Windows. iPad, Chromebook, Macbook, Surface, etc. I like to compare and contrast differences between systems and devices.. This post is about how the Microsoft Surface and Windows 8.1 works for parents and kids.

Why? Well, it isn’t so much the Surface and Windows 8.1, but Microsoft Family Safety. This has been around in Windows for a while, through the “Live Essentials” and what have you, but now it is built into the OS. Since previously I didn’t have kids, I had no use for it. Now with younger kids that want to play on my devices, I tried it.

On my Surface, I just created a kids account, and linked it to Family Safety. Now, when the kid plays, it tracks what they do. I can control what apps, what sites, levels of app ratings, time, etc. I get a report every week

If she tries to play a game or install something it won’t let her. It asks for password, it even asks “is your parent here now” so I can just put in the password. Pretty awesome.

Other systems and devices have nothing like this that I have seen, nothing built in anyways. With an iPad (or iOS) you really don’t have this control. Maybe if they have their own device, but if they share your’s you are out of luck since there are no accounts in iOS.

I have no problems now just giving her the Surface to play with – and I can track usage and set limits, pretty awesome. If you are a parent and have a Windows 8 or 8.1 device, check out the children accounts and family safety. You don’t even have to set up an email address for your kids, it just works as a local account if you want. Score one for Microsoft!

Welcome Back

It’s been a loooong time since I have posted here. Well, time to change that. The experiment is over. Always been toying with other things. Twitter, Google+, Facebook, svbtle, medium, blogger, whatever. But I guess this is where I belong. Hell, I’m getting requests from this guy.

I focused on some other things.. stevenovoselac.com, which still is an experiment. Orignally it was a lifestream, on a few different services, then Posterous, which Twitter bought, so I moved it to WordPress, then Squarespace (which locks you in HARD btw) – and now decided to take some of the posts and move to svbtle. We will see what I do with it. Like I said, still an experiment.

In all reality I haven’t posted here since 11/2012.

What’s changed since then?

steve and olive

  • Life: Olive is almost a year old, our house is coming along
  • Work: I’ve promoted some awesome people and I have many less direct reports. I am getting into other technologies and projects.
  • Health: I started cycling. I’ve lost 65 lbs since 11/2012.
  • Tech: Chromebook? Macbook? Android? WP8? iOS development? Chromecast? Everything else? check. And more.
  • Music: Still rockin
  • Homebrewing: Yep, still doing that too. Need to do it more. I plan on it.

steve novoselac

I’ve cleaned up the theme a bit. Cleaned up some links etc. Still some categorization to here. Oh yeah, still have ads too. It pays for the hosting, and a beer every few months. 🙂

brewing

Looking at my Google Analytics, I can tell you exactly when Google Reader shut down…

Not even sure if anyone still reads blogs… do they? I know I do. Feedly is my drug of choice for a reader.

kom

What do people want to read about? Let me know in the comments.. which I guess I might see one or two. Otherwise I will just make up stuff as I go, which is pretty much how I operate anyways.

fam

Oh yeah, I love that Mase song – listen to the YouTube, it’s awesome.