[Updated December 2012]
You CAN restrict iMessage
Contrary to popular belief and contrary to my earlier version of this article, you CAN restrict iMessage on an iPod touch or iPad. I did not find this documented on the Apple web site, or anywhere else on the internet. I discovered this by accident after the most recent update to iOS 6.
Setting parental controls for iMessage is a 2-step process:
- Disable iMessage (Turn it off).
- Lock the ability to change account settings. This is done under Restrictions settings. By doing this, your child cannot turn iMessage back on. Only those with the Restrictions password (mom or dad) can do so.
Note that you will need iOS version 6 and possibly the updated iOS 6.0.1 for this to work on your child’s iPod touch or iPad. You can check what version you have by going to Settings – General – About.
Turn Off iMessage
1. Go to Settings – Messages.
2. Turn iMessage off.
Lock Ability to Change Account Settings in Restrictions
1. Go back to Settings and scroll up to Restrictions.
If you’ve already set up restrictions, you’ll be prompted for the passcode. If not, choose Enable Restrictions and enter a pass code. Be sure to use a 4-digit passcode that you will remember and your kids will not guess.
2. Scroll down to Allow Changes: and click Accounts.
3. Click Don’t Allow Changes.
Confirm that iMessage is not allowed
Now navigate back to the Home screen. You will still see the icon for Messages (on my daughter’s iPod it is down at the bottom). When your offspring attempts to get in to the Messages app, they’ll see a warning.
What happens if someone tries to iMessage my child?
When their iMessage is turned off, a message sent to them will not go through.
Why would I want to restrict iMessage?
This all depends on your reasons for giving your child an iDevice in the first place. If the main intent is to listen to music and play games, or if your child is very young, you may want to restrict messaging. If that’s the case you may also want to restrict installing apps, or allowing apps over a certain age rating. Keep in mind that there are other messaging and chatting apps available on the App store.
I find it handy for my daughter to have iMessage. We use it to communicate when I’m at work. She only has it available when on Wi-Fi, such as at home. Since she doesn’t have a cell phone (yet) this is convenient for us. She chats with friends who have iPods (which is a growing number). I review her messages on occasion, with her knowledge. It has led to a few good conversations on what is okay to share and what isn’t, and how to handle some of the pre-teen drama that comes up from time to time.
So that’s the scoop. You can disable iMessage on the iPod touch or iPad by preventing account changes.