Parent Guide

Parents' Guide to Student iPad Use

"Digital Health and Wellness" is an important parent-child discussion to revisit frequently, from elementary school through high school. Experts warn that children are most vulnerable to online dangers while in their own home. The following suggestions are drawn from a wide variety of professional sources that may aid you in effectively guiding your child’s use of the iPad and other technology devices.

In accordance with the District’s Electronic Technologies Acceptable Use Policy (#524), outside of school, parents bear responsibility for the same guidance of internet use as they exercise with information sources such as television, telephones, radio, movies and other possibly offensive media. Parents are responsible for monitoring their student’s use of the District’s educational technologies, including school-issued email accounts and the internet if the student is accessing the District’s electronic technologies from home or through other remote location(s).

Filter Access

All Minnetonka School iPads have built-in filtering software blocking access to inappropriate sites regardless of whether the device is at school or off campus. However, children often have complete, unrestricted access to inappropriate sites on other devices such as home computers and personal cell phones. Experts strongly suggest installing software to filter and block inappropriate content on your wireless home network. Some possible filters to consider include OpenDNS (free version available for computers and Wi-Fi) and Curbi for cellphones. Read more about filters on our Digital Citizenship page.

Apple's built-in web content filtering software on devices, including school iPads, allows parents to block specific websites if so desired. This can be done using Apple's Guided Access and Restrictions settings. Note that school iPads are filtered independently from any filtering rules on wireless networks outside of school, so if additional site blocking is desired, this can be setup through the iPad's Guided Access and Restrictions.

Set Expectations

Regularly share your expectations with your child about accessing only appropriate sites and content, as well as being a good person when online (even when parents aren't watching). Outside of school, it is likely that your child has already been confronted with multiple opportunities to access content that parents wouldn’t approve, such as pornography, hate sites, celebrity gossip, reality tv personal blogs and more, all of which may influence your child's beliefs, values and behavior. Understand that your child's use of many technologies (such as iPods, video game systems, and cell phones) likely gives your child the ability to connect to unfiltered public wireless networks (such as in a library or coffee shop, by picking up a neighbor’s wireless signal, or connecting to the Internet through a cell service). Therefore, it is important to maintain regular, open dialog about internet use and access. Discuss your expectation for appropriate use and behavior.

Monitor & Limit ENTERTAINMENT Screen Time

In 2015, the American Academy of Pediatrics revised their screen time recommendations and now encourage parents to focus on the content on the screen itself. The AAP recommends limiting recreational/entertainment screen time to one to two hours per day for children over age two (source). There is no screen time limit for educational content and use. More tips from the AAP about children and media. Talk with your child about the amount of entertainment screen time s/he spends. Talk with your child about the amount of entertainment screen time s/he spends. On an smartphone (or iPad), simply go to Settings>Battery and tap the clock to view the number of minutes per day/week spent in each app. Set goals for reducing entertainment screen time if necessary.

Experts suggest having children surf the internet in a central place at home, such as the kitchen or family room, rather than away from adult supervision or behind a closed door. Know what your child is doing with technology and how his or her time is being spent. Technology can be a great tool and resource, but also has the potential to be a distractor. Help your child learn to focus on completing tasks or assignments first before spending time on games, shopping and social networking. Teaching today’s children how to manage multiple sources of information and potential distractions is a critical life skill, one best learned before heading off to college or the workplace.

Most home WiFi routers allow time limit configurations for devices on their network. This means if so desired, a device can be limited in the amount of time it is able to use WiFi at home. Each router manufacturer will have specific instructions on how to set this up.

Put the iPad to bed, but not in the bedroom

Parenting experts suggest parking all technology devices, from cell phones to iPads, in a common spot overnight to discourage late night, unmonitored use and sleep disruption. Don’t allow your child to sleep in a room with an iPad, laptop or cell phone. Remember to model appropriate use and balance of technology in your own life, too!


To help children, parents and/or teachers may wish to use Guided Access to temporarily limit iPad use to a specific app or set up time limits. View instructions on Guided Access.

In addition to the built-in filtering on students’ iPads, parents and/or teachers of grade 6-12 students may consider using Restrictions which allow additional websites such as YouTube to be blocked. YouTube has many educational videos and teachers use it regularly for instruction. Blocking YouTube will prevent your child from accessing these resources, completing homework and learning. Many things can be both entertaining and educational. While teachers work with students about appropriate and responsible use of tools like YouTube, the District also encourages parents to help guide their children in exploring this aspect of technology, as navigating such sites is becoming a necessary skill for their future. The District's position is that restricting access to YouTube should only be used temporarily with a goal of getting students back to managing it without restrictions and balancing their use of the tool for entertainment with the need to complete homework in a timely manner. View instructions on restrictions.

More helpful websites with technology safety tips for parents:
Photo students iPad