How to Turn an iPhone into a Basic Phone

By: Brooke Shannon

There are many distractions, risks and potential dangers involved with allowing children to have their own smartphone. Mounting research confirms we should delay this technology for kids. Thousands of parents from across the country are pledging not to give their child a smartphone until at least 8th grade with the Wait Until 8th pledge. But what if you already have permitted smartphones for your children? Or what if your children are in 8th grade or high school, and you don’t think they are ready for a fully loaded smartphone? Consider turning the smartphone into a basic phone with these easy steps.

Please note, if you have or plan to sign the Wait Until 8th pledge, we ask that you do not give your child a stripped down smartphone. Instead, consider a basic flip phone. Although a strip down smartphone can essentially be a basic phone when you remove everything, it still for appearance sake, a smartphone. This is confusing to other children who are waiting until at least 8th grade for a smartphone. Once a pledge becomes active at a school, and you know who is on board, some parents share with their children other families who have signed the pledge and are waiting. If other kids see the kid with the stripped down smartphone it appears he or she has a smartphone despite pledging not to. Our policy is you should only sign the pledge if you promise not to give your child a smartphone until at least 8th grade.

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Establish Restrictions on the iPhone

(1) Go to “settings” and then “general” and then “restrictions”. Click on “restrictions” and choose “on” (not “off”).  

(2)  You will need to set up a passcode for “restrictions” if you have not done so already. Do not share this passcode with your child.

(3) Once in “Restrictions” switch everything under “Allow” off (swipe left so the button goes from green to white), including

·      Safari or any other internet browser

·      Camera

·      Siri & Diction

·      Facetime

·      Airdrop

·      Installing Apps

·      Deleting Apps

·      In app purchases

(4) Under “Allowed Content,” restrict access under each category.

(5) Under “Privacy,” go to “location services” and turn “location services” off. Also, turn off “share my location.”

(6) Under “Game Center,” turn each category off.

Please note to bypass the restrictions code, the child could erase the device and set it up as a new device according to Apple. If you are worried about this, consider a basic flip phone. We have some options pinned @WaitUntil8th on Pinterest. 

Also, be sure to confirm the restrictions are in place each time you allow Apple to update the phone.

Remove unnecessary apps on the iPhone.

If you are giving an old iPhone to your child, chances are there are many apps on the phone your child will not need.  Remove all social media apps from the phone. Also, gaming apps are very distracting. Follow these steps to remove apps such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.

(1) Go to “settings” then select “general” and go to iPhone storage.

(2)  A list of your apps will appear at the bottom of the screen; it may take a few moments to load.

(3) Tap the app you would like to delete and then tap “delete app.”

Remember to be very careful with any app you permit on the phone. We have heard from some experts that children will use benign apps such as a weather app as a portal to access inappropriate content. Plus some apps operate as disguises for ways to hide information and images on the phone. There are many calculator apps that do this. The parent thinks it is just a calculator but when the child enters a special code it opens up to a special location on the phone where texts and images are hidden. 

Use Guided Access when necessary.

There are times when your children may need to use your iPhone or their own device for a specific task.  The iPhone allows you to lock the phone on a single app. Guided Access limits users to one specific app, preventing them from switching to another program or returning to the Home screen.

To enable Guided Access, follow these steps:

(1) Select "Settings," then "General," and then "Accessibility"

(2) Scroll down to "Learning."

(3) Click on "Guided Access" and turn it on. When you want to use Guided Access, simply launch the app your kid wants to use and triple-click the Home button. A passcode must be entered to disable Guided Access. Do not give your children the passcode.

Putting healthy technology boundaries in place for children is important.  Even if your child already has a smartphone, you still can change what they can do on the phone.  Explain to them your concerns and why you are changing how they use the smartphone. Also, set a time in the future to revisit your smartphone plan and determine if they are ready for more access. 

Please consider delaying the smartphone for your child with the Wait Until 8th pledge. There are so many reasons to wait. Currently the average age a child receives a smartphone is 10 years old despite the many distractions and dangers that comes with this technology. Join more than 16,000 parents by signing the pledge today.

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