to commonly asked questions.

parental controls

Parenting and Video Games

My newest article on parenting and Video Games is available now over at

Restrictions on Safari or Youtube?

can we put restrictions on both Youtube and Safari to limit content etc….?


Restrictions on Safari: sort of.
Restrictions on Youtube: not really. it’s basically all or nothing at all.

While there ARE theoretically parental restrictions per youtube account, children can easily circumvent those limitations by just logging out of the youtube account.

The best we can do as parents is set limits as more of a guide to what we find acceptable. Children will always be able to see whatever they want in the end. Whether on the devices we’ve handed to them or someone else’s.

Apple's Screen Time App Part 1: Introduction

For the next couple months I'm partnering with to write a series of articles. This weeks focuses on parental controls and the use of Screen Time to limit your child's activity. The article is available here and is published below as well.

t seems almost an impossible task these days trying to keep our children safe when it comes to the internet and every year, advancements in technology and social media makes it more and more difficult. I’d like to be perfectly clear. THERE IS NO MAGIC BUTTON to make your children safe. Just as there is no magic button that makes us good parents. It takes lots of work and constant vigilance to ensure our children understand what your family is up against when it comes to their interaction with their friends and the world when it comes to using devices like a computer, iPad or iPhone.

There may not be one magic button to solve all our parental concerns but there ARE many many helpful ones. For today let’s focus on iPhones and iPads. For years there have been several apps out there claiming to be able to protect your children by monitoring their use or shutting off apps at certain times of the day. These work as well as the locks on your doors. Just as your average lock only keeps honest people out of your home, those apps only keep honest children away from danger. But now it’s time to be honest with ourselves. There is no honest child. Oh, come on! Do you really think you have the one child in all the world who is not one bit curious about the world? They never touched the hot stove? They never stepped outside their boundaries just to see what the consequences would be? Well, if you have the perfect child then you can stop here. You’re done. Congrats. You win “Best Parent of All Time.” But for the rest of us, it’s a constant battle to monitor and guide our children into making the best choices they can based on the direction in which we point them and the moral foundation we build around them during their first 18 years or so. After that, they are who they are.

If there’s one thing 15 years of being a public school teacher has taught me, it’s that children are a: more like adults than we give them credit for and b: just like adults, they can’t always be trusted to make the best choices.

What you may not know is that there is no way Apple would have ever allowed a third party app have that much power and control over a device unless it was built into the operating system. Therefore these parental control apps I mentioned earlier are usually just obstacles for children to work around if they so choose. You have to remember, children are smarter than we are. To understand this, let’s look at the definition of technology. Technology is an advancement that was created after your birth. To you and I, a spoon is not technology. We can never recall learning to use a spoon. Its technical use was built into our society but for today’s child, a glass screen that you touch with your finger to move light is really no more challenging to use than a spoon. They can never remember a time in their lives where iPads and iPhones didn’t exist. Therefore, having grown up in this world, they can much more easily manipulate and understand the ins and outs of this technology whereas we have to sit down and proactively learn what any new app or feature does. So working around a parental control app by simply removing or editing a profile is simply an afternoon of searching on youtube whereas the average parent has no idea what a profile even means. Children really don’t either. They just know it’s in their way and can quickly find the resources needed to remove or alter any restrictions that a profile on their phone would contain.

So by now you may be saying “Geez Scotty. Why do we even bother then?” Well, I bring you great news. Last November Apple announced Screen Time. It is their answer to Parental controls your child can’t work around. And it works (mostly). Screen Time is not the magic button either, but it does contain many features that can help parents monitor their child’s use by recording things like what apps they use most, when they use those apps, or even how many times they pick their device up. It does a very good job at this and it’s protected by a four-digit code that you assign to the front door of the settings. Now here’s where you have to step up your game. As I mentioned earlier, your children are smarter than you. They know what this 4 digit code means. When confronted with this puzzle they know they have about 4 chances to guess the code before the phone slowly starts to secure itself. 5th guess – wait a minute. 6th guess – wait 15 minutes. 7th guess – wait an hour. 10th guess – phone is locked and you have to call the computer guy. They know the rules of this game very, very well, and they know it’s too dangerous a game to just sit and guess 4 digit numbers in order to find the key that unlocks the parental controls. So like a shark in deep dark water, they wait. And you are their prey. They have several ways of getting you to give them the code. And at just the right moment, they strike. You’ll never know what hit you. How do they do it you ask? Well, one way is to get you, their victim, to just show it to you. “And why would I do that?” you say. They don’t ask you for it silly. Like Indiana Jones looking for the map room, they just get you to enter it while sitting in a certain location during a certain time of day, when the sun is pointing in a certain location, and they can use the reflection on the glass of any window or door to watch you enter the code yourself then just reverse the visual path they saw you enter and boom. The attack is complete.


And then, of course, there’s the old good cop bad cop routine. But in this case, it’s good child, bad child. Johnny goes into a short term cease fire partnership with his sibling in order to get the code. Billy stands off in the distance above the staircase just out of sight while Johnny asks mom to make a change in the parental settings. Billy does recon and boom: Code acquired. Yes, your children are smart enough. They are resourceful enough. They are manipulative enough. Do not underestimate how intelligent your child is. They don’t need to guess the code when they can just get it from you. These are all 5th grade 101 concepts. You have to remember, your children have almost unlimited resources when it comes to solving problems. They meet with a board of directors consisting of about 300 people every single day at lunch to discuss how to circumvent current events. Except their board room is called the lunch room. We parents may go to a meeting at the school to hear “the guy from the FBI” speak who is always about 8 to 10 months behind the current trends anyway. But I digress.

All this to say, Screen Time does work if you are willing to put in the work. Just like parenting, nothing is easy. Next time we’ll take a look at what Screen Time can provide you and how to utilize its features. In the meantime, if you have questions or would like to know more, you can always schedule a session online at, email me, or join me every Monday evening at 7pm for free at my Town Hall online help sessions.


Screen Time: New feature in iOS 12.

Parents, lots to look forward to with the new ScreenTime feature coming to iOS 12 later this year. You'll be able to give your kids a limited amount of time to access certain apps. Finally!

More info here.

Parental Software for iOS

Scotty, is there any good parenting software out there that I can use to monitor my kid’s activity online?

SecureTeen is an interesting work around to Apple’s closed garden approach to iOS. Apple doesn’t take very kindly to apps requesting data from other apps. Yes, they grant permission in some cases as apps are approved in the App Store but it’s very rare and the app has to have a good reason to be allowed to ask permission to see content from another app. SecureTeen has an interesting approach to work around this road block. It installs a VPN onto the phone therefore routing all internet traffic through its servers. To keep up with conversations and texts, SecureTeen asks that parents login to their child’s iCloud, instagram, twitter, Facebook, etc… individually and it will harvest records from those sources directly. It tracks GPS info over a given period of time. All this allows the parent to log into a website and view info on their child.

Here’s the problem. This, along with pretty much every other parenting control app or software can be circumvented by your children in about 20 seconds in any number of different ways. I won’t list them here but trust me. It’s very easy and they’ll figure it out. Remember, they are way smarter than we are.

In the end, I say it every day. Nothing beats good parenting. If you are looking for a piece of software to be the parent, you’re doing it wrong. The dinner table discussing expectations, rewards, and consequences is what wins. Trust but verify. Being in the position of being able to touch your child’s device every day is the best way to go. Apple’s parental controls within restrictions are fine overall if you know how to use them. If you want to go a step farther, create a new user on your mac and log in to their iCloud account in the messages app. Use Find Friends to keep up with their location. If you have an old phone or iPad, use that to sign in to all their social accounts. You’ll even see their search history from other devices with iCloud enabled. All of these are easily circumvented by your children of course. But you don’t need a parenting app to be a parent.

Generally I see three types of parents in my daily routine.

1. the parents that are scared of their children
2. the parents that are overly restrictive with their children
3. the parents who try to trust their children but verify their actions

As long as you remember that in the end, your children will do whatever they want whether you realize it or not all you can hope for is to be able to communicate with them and be in the position that they allow you in their loop when their digital social lives need guidance. You can’t stop your children from exploring the internet and making social mistakes but you can let them know that you are on their side when things go wrong. Remember, you gave them these devices. You can always take them away.

OpenDNS not working

Hi Scotty -
Open DNS was not working to block content on our network.  I was able to get it to work on the mac & mac pro but it does not block content on my iPhone, kindles, or fire phone.  I saw in the tech support section on OpenDNS that it is unable to operate on Uverse.  Is it possible that the mobile devices go through the Uverse router and not Airport?  Is there a work around for this?

Any suggestions on how to get this to work would be appreciated.

There are several ways to set up OpenDNS. One method is to apply the settings necessary to each device individually. This would block access to filtered websites on some devices while allowing all content on others. Another method of applying the OpenDNS filter is to apply the settings to the router itself. When a home is using an Apple router or other third party router such as a Linksys, Netgear, etc... this is a fairly easy process. However, if the family is only using a Time Warner or ATT router exclusively and no other third party router, these companies often lock their own routers to the point where certain changes can not be made. i.e,; DNS changes.

I cannot recall which method we used in your case but it sounds like we didn’t apply the changes to the router itself but to individual devices. However, it’s important to keep in mind that OpenDNS will only filter your personal wifi network. A person could always jump to another neighborhood network nearby or turn off wifi on their phone leaving them to surf the web via the unfiltered LTE or 3G network of the phone carrier. This may also be the case.

Parent iPhone Contract

I work with a lot of parents concerning what our children are doing in today’s technological world. One particular family recently shared the contract they use with their own children. They graciously gave me permission to share it with anyone else who’s interested. Feel free to download it and customize to your own family’s dynamic.

Remember, having your child sign a contract is the easy part. Holding yourself and your child accountable for its regulations is another.

Parent iPhone contract in Microsoft Word (editable)

Parent iPhone contract in PDF form (non-editable)

Kids iPads and parental controls

Hi, Scotty!  Hope you are having a great summer!  Stephen and I really want to sit down with you and figure out how to put restrictions on our boys' iPads.
Also, I cannot for the life of me get my wireless printer to find my computer anymore.  
Can you help me?  


I would be happy to assist.  First and foremost, you may want to take a look at the parenting
newsletter I wrote a couple months back.  It’s located at  It’s very long and a little aggressive but it’s fairly accurate whether we as parents want to believe it or not.  I’ll look forward to helping you get your printer working and a few restrictions on your kid’s iPads.

Sites blocked?

Here's what they sent me to try if this third batch doesn't agree with any/all of this?

From OWC:
Here are some things to try when you have suspected memory issues:

1) The first step is to make sure the memory is installed and seated all of the way. This is the most common solution to having a problem with the memory.  If you are unsure of how to install the memory properly you can see our install videos  You can also get installation pdf instructions from Apple's site at their Do-It-Yourself center

With new memory a common problem is that people do not realize the chips take as much pressure to push in as they can and fail to put them in all the way.  Even if your old chips do not take as much force to insert new chips can take a fair amount more force on them to get them to snap fully in to place properly.
When inserting the memory you will usually be able to tell when the memory fully seats in the socket and normally will hear a clicking/snapping type sound as it does.

2)  Zap your pram.  If you need the steps you can refer to the Apple article

3) For Intel systems the next thing is to try resetting your SMC.  
   a. For Mac Pro's visit the Apple article
   b. If using a Macbook/MacBook Pro Apple has the article on how to do so
   c.  For Intel iMacs or Minis reset the SMC using the information in the Apple article

4)  Try moving your memory to different slots to see if the slots may be a factor.

   a.  If mixing memory try the new memory without the original memory.
   b.  If you bought multiple chips then try with only one chip at a time and see if the problems show up or not.  Repeat per chip or pair purchased.
   c.  If you bought multiple pairs, for  Mac Pros, try mixing the chip pairings to see if you can narrow down a specific chip or pair if problems are found.

5)  Sometimes it helps to clean the contact pins on the the chip as there may be a bit of resin residue leftover on them after manufacturing.  First take a rubber pencil eraser and buff the gold contact pins.  Then take a Q-tip with isopropyl alcohol and clean the contact pins of the chip. Do not use the alcohol on any other part of the chip and make sure to give it sufficient time to make sure it is fully dried before installing to try again.

Dust particles within the machine could also be a source of the problem so you can take a can of air and use it to blow the sockets and machine board free of the dust particles.  You can normally get a can of air at most electronics stores or local Walmart type stores.  I have even seen them carried in stores like Osco before.

6)  To make sure heat is not a factor in causing your machine problems if using a MacBook/MacBook Pro refer to the article we have posted about it

If there are still issues and you can get the machine to startup with the memory installed there are some software tests you can run.

1)  In OSX the software we recommend running is Rember.  Go to and download Rember. This is an OSX program that can test the memory and is pretty accurate.

2)  You can get AppleJack from  This software needs to be installed in OS 10.2.x or higher.  You then need to restart and boot to single user mode holding down Command(apple) and S.  Once the screen comes up for AppleJack press the X key to enter E(x)perimental mode.   It is not listed, but does exist.  Then select the option for running Memtest.  This has the advantage of leaving almost all the memory free for testing vs some of it being allocated for the system that the other two previous options require.

3.  You can boot to the disk that came with your system and run Apple Hardware Test(AHT) and use that to test the memory.  G4 Macs and later distribute the Apple Hardware Test on a system disc that came with your machine.  Each Apple Hardware Test is specific to the type and model of Mac with which it was distributed.  To run the Apple Hardware Test, you must start up from the disc:    

    a) If you have an Apple Hardware Test CD, start up from it as you would any other bootable disc:
        1. Insert the Apple Hardware Test disc that came with your Mac into your Mac's optical drive.
        2.Press and hold the C key on your keyboard as you start your system.
        3. Release the C key after the screen changes indicating it is loading.
    b) For Intel-based Macs, see the Apple article found

After you startup from the Apple Hardware Test, run the Extended Test.  You may want to run the Extended Test several times in a row as sometimes intermittent problems don't show up on every test.  You may want to run the AHT in Loop Mode overnight which can be an excellent troubleshooting step for finding intermittent hardware problems.  If Loop Mode is supported by the version of the Apple Hardware Test you are using, you run the Extended Test in Loop Mode by pressing Control-L before starting the test. Looping On should appear in the right window. Then click the Extended Test button.  The test will run continuously until a problem is found. If a problem is found, the test will cease to loop, indicating the problem it found.  If you let it run in loop mode allow it to loop 50+ times to make sure no problems are found.  You can stop the Extended Test and exit Loop Mode by either:

   a) Pressing the Command-period keyboard shortcut, i.e. Command-.
   b) Clicking the Cancel or Stop Test buttons. This can be difficult to do in Loop Mode.
   c) Manually restarting your Mac. Restarting manually, i.e. via either the power button or if your Mac is so equipped the Reset button.


These are all good suggestions and valid.  But the glaring fact remains that you put the old ram in, machine boots, new ram in, machine doesn't boot.  conclusion:  new ram doesn't work.  

Aliens have captured our 15 year old

Hi Scotty
Was wondering if I can upgrade to mountain lion if I never installed Lion. I am currently running OS X 10.6.8

Yes, you can purchase Mountain Lion 10.8 as a download from the Mac App Store on your computer in 10.6.8 and upgrade from there. 10.7 is not required to move to 10.8.

Note: You can not move from 10.5 to 10.7 or higher. If you are in 10.5 you must first get to 10.6.8 in order to have access to the app store on your computer and the only way to get from 10.5 to 10.6 is via an install disc which are fewer and farther between every day.

10.6=Snow Leopard
10.8=Mountain Lion

Saving text messages from your iPhone

How do I share the iMac’s dvd drive with my macbook air?

First go to system preferences and select sharing. Next check DVD sharing.
Screen Shot 2011-12-14 at 10.53.31 PM
Now on the air, open a finder window and find “remote disc” on the left hand column under “DEVICES”. You’ll next be presented with prompt asking permission for the iMac to share its drive with the air. After allowing to share from the iMac you’ll see the disc that is in the iMac, available on the desktop of the air.

Screen Shot 2011-12-14 at 10.52.37 PM

Parental controls block https sites

Hey Scotty, wanted to ask you about my e-mail.  Nearly once a day my e-mail stops receiving messages and I have to shutdown or restart my computer in order to get mail on my mobile me account. It does not happen on my Entourage account however,

What is causing this??? I am frustrated because it takes forever to shut down, reboot and wait for all the messages to come in!

Let me know if you can help me with this problem.  Thanks!!

It’s unusual that Entourage would be working correctly when Apple’s Mail program would not. It may be that the mail program is having difficulty syncing the mail account(s) with the server. This could be solved by deleting the accounts and re-adding them but it’s not guaranteed.

One hint at what is going on is to check the activity window in Mail by going under “Window” in Mail’s menu bar and select “Activity”. This could tell us what is actually stuck.

Consider OpenDNS as an alternative to Parental Controls

Printer is not going through form my Dell laptop. I set up the bonjour and it shows up, but when I print, it shows, printing, then print error. Thoughts?

When you added it through bonjour, did it find its own printer or choose a generic one?  Also, be sure you restarted the machine as well.  Windows can be such a pain! If that doesn’t work then try to manually select the print driver in bonjour print wizard. I have also found that sometimes windows is happier with the previous version of the driver. In your case, the 8400 series rather that 8500 series if it’s available. Just a thought. Windows support is a bit outside my jurisdiction.

Video Camera and Parental Controls

Hi Scotty - 

We forgot to go over the video chat screen sharing for the ipad to the desk computer.  Is there an easy way to do that?  and an easy way for you to explain for me how to set it up?



Currently there is no way to share the ipad screen with your computer or vise versa. You can however, use an application called GoToMeeting on the iPad that will allow you to view another computer’s screen on your iPad. It’s a paid service and not really exactly what you are looking for I’m thinking but the technology is out there. Just not mainstream yet.

Computer to computer screen sharing is very common and built into Mac OS X. The iPad has a way to go yet.

Parental controls block https sites

My iphone is not recognized in iPhoto.


This seems to be a big issue.

Everyone seems to agree on the same answer.  Deleting picts not taken with the iPhone...or there could be one pict that was taken with the iphone causing the problem.  Clearing them out and syncing may bring the iphone back to normal.  I just know it's a pain to email 166 picts at only a few at a time before deleting.  You could try just a few at a time and reconnect after a few deletions to see if all goes well.  That way you may not have to email all of them.  

Protecting your kids from the internet

My Mac is SO SLOW again and I'm betting it is because of the pictures. I dont think the deletion of duplicates task was successfully completed. Can you remind me how to do that again? And then move them onto the external hard drive?


Yea, it's a little complicated to go through via email.  It may be a matter of your iphoto library having almost outgrown your internal drive.  iPhoto can detect a library housed on an external drive but the issue is to have a separate drive connected and also have that one backing up as well.  Your current backup may be large enough to encompass both your internal drive and the external you would add if it is a 1terabyte or larger drive.  That's only one possibility.  But we do need to get those duplicates effectively dealt with first.  You should have a copy of Duplicate Annihilator on your computer already that you can run however you can also download the latest version of Duplicate Annihilator from here:  
Brattoo Propaganda Software - Products

Pretty simple to use.

Parental Controls on the Mac

How do I sink my laptop with my IMac/Apple TV?

I am heading back other residence for a bit and will be taking my macbook with me.  I'd like to update my I tunes etc on it before I leave...



When syncing AppleTV there is one main iTunes master library and then each iTunes library on other computers are sort of like additional nodes. The AppleTV can stream content from each but really only pushes any data purchased back to the main iTunes library. So there is really a better way to think about doing this. Maybe what you really want to do is sync multiple iTunes libraries and not just necessarily the appletv.

To do this, there is a new and easy way built in to the latest versions of iTunes. It's called home sharing. You can find more info on how to turn it on and drag over content from each library so your data lives in both computers. AppleTV doesn't really only exclusively hold any movies, music, or pictures. It's really just a repeater for whatever is in the main iTunes library. (in you case, the iMac) Any content purchased on AppleTV should have synced back to the iMac anyway.

Here's the info on home sharing:

iTunes 9: Understanding Home Sharing
"Note: Home Sharing does not automatically transfer iTunes Store content that was purchased before you turned on Home Sharing. You can still manually transfer iTunes Store and other content between Home Shares."

Parental Controls in the workplace


Were you able to find out answer to why my Mac e-mail had the wrong time compared to the right time on the mobile e-mail on my blackberry?


Of course the first thing to do is check the settings in system preferences to be sure you have the correct time zone selected. You can use the map to select the EST zone. Your email program should go by only what your time zone settings are.

I don't have any ideas on the blackberry issue.

Just to be sure on the time difference, also check the mobileme time zone settings. Here's how:

1. Click the Account button in the upper left of the MobileMe window.

2. Click Personal Info on the left side of the Account window.

3. Choose a new time zone from the Time Zone pop-up menu, and then click Save.

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