Four questions to answer before buying your teen an iPad

Your child is stupendously manipulative, independently wealthy, or unbearably charming. Or maybe you're a good parent looking to give the best tool to help your kid in school. Either way, you are considering letting this kid have an iPad. Before you send those $500 to Cupertino, answer these four critical questions.

1. What is your AUP?
Most schools and businesses establish an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) for technology. Consider writing up a family AUP for technology between you and your child. You could clearly define how, when, and where the iPad should be used. Establish what types of websites he is permitted to visit, what kinds of games he can play, and what media he may consume. Explain why you have these rules in place before you purchase the device. Get these rules in writing and have both of you sign it. You could review the details of the policy after six months to meet changing demands and increased maturity.

2. Who controls the Apple ID account?
In order to get past the welcome screen on a new iPad, you must register the device with an Apple ID and password. You may already have one if you use iTunes or have another Apple device. You need to decide if you are going to control this account, or will you let your teenager have administrative control. Each time you download an app, purchase music, or rent a movie, you need to enter the Apple ID password associated with the iPad. If you want full control over everything that happens on the device, register it with your own password. Unfortunately, your teenager is going to ask you to enter your password each time an app needs to be updated, which is about as often as she asks for a ride to the mall. You could take the other approach and give full account control to your child by giving her a credit card and her own account. Beware. One parent ended up with a five-digit iPad bill because his kid made a bunch of in-game purchases to keep his virtual fish alive. Since you trust your child enough to provide an iPad, perhaps you should allow her to control the account, but provide an iTunes gift card when registering the iPad rather than a credit card to keep a fixed cap on the expenses.

3. Will you enable restrictions?
Even if your child has control of the Apple ID account, you could still enable password protected restrictions to lock down certain apps or hardware elements. To access the restrictions settings tap Settings > General > Restrictions. The iPad will ask you to provide a four digit password. Then you can enable and disable native apps like YouTube and FaceTime. You can also restrict all apps by their rating in the iTunes store. If you don’t want your kid watching rated R movies, uncheck the R rating in the Movies page. As long as you have control of the restrictions password, you have control of what apps and media your child uses on the device.

4. Where will the device live at three in the morning?
No one is going to stop a teenager from reading comic books under their covers all hours of the night with a flashlight. Give up on that battle. However, you can keep him from Facebooking when he should be sleeping. If your child is losing sleep because of any technology, this is a serious problem. Confiscate the device during bedtime hours. Write it into your AUP. Besides, if he’s using it all night, when are you going to break his Angry Birds record?

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