iPads grow old, and slow down. There are certain steps you can take to speed them up again, but eventually you will find that the tablet simply doesn't serve your needs any more. Instead of throwing it away, why not pass it on to your kids?

Tablets are enjoyable and potentially (under the right circumstances) highly educational for youngsters, who you're likely to find will grasp the essentials quicker than adults who grew up before touchscreens were mainstream technology. However, you need to make sure that any device you hand over is child-friendly, with unnecessary or inappropriate data and settings removed, and parental controls put into place to stop them finding dodgy content or racking up huge app bills.

So what can you do to make such an iPad useful and safe for your child? These steps are a good place to start.

How to set up parental controls on iPad & iPhone

Wipe the device

When giving an iPad or iPhone to another person, it's imperative - for general security reasons as well as ones specific to younger users - that you remove all your data from it.

Back up the device first if you want to restore that data to a new tablet, then open the Settings app. Select General, then scroll down and select Reset, and then Erase All Contents and Settings. Enter your passcode. You'll get one last warning: confirm you decision by tapping Erase one last time.

For more details, have a look at How to reset an iPhone or iPad.

How to set up an old iPad for kids: Reset


iOS offers broad options to switch off Safari, YouTube, iTunes and Ping, and to disable the ability to install and delete apps. Additionally, you can allow app and media downloads based on their rating - restricting movies to U and PG ratings, and apps to ages 12 and over, for instance - and prevent your child from making in-app purchases, playing multiplayer games, and adding friends within Game Center.

To set up restrictions, launch Settings on the iPad, tap General, and then tap Restrictions. Everything will be greyed out until you tap Enable Restrictions at the top of the screen, whereupon you'll be prompted to enter and confirm a four-digit passcode.

(This doesn't need to correspond to your usual passcode, if you use one, although it may be easier to remember if it does. Just make sure your child doesn't already know that one!)

If anyone tries to change your settings, they'll first need to enter the code you selected at this point.

How to set up an old iPad for kids: Restrictions

Now that Restrictions are enabled, you can toggle specific apps and functions on an off - if the slider next to an item is green, the child can access it; if it's white, a passcode will need to be entered in order to either access the function or to disable the restriction entirely.

We look at how to set up parental controls on an iPad in more depth elsewhere.


If your child hasn't got an email address, you can obtain a free one from a source such as Gmail or Yahoo. Both services ask that the owner of the email address be at least 13 years old, although they have no way of confirming the owner's actual age.

Unwanted email can be a problem with iOS devices because, unlike with macOS's parental controls, you have no way of limiting the addresses your child can receive email from or send email to on the device. Gmail and Yahoo allow you to create limited whitelists of senders the recipient should always receive messages from, but offers no way to block senders who aren't on the list. The same applies to iCloud email accounts. You can set up basic filters on the iCloud website, but they can't prevent the sending of mail to your child's iCloud email account.

For this reason, you should be completely sure that your child can handle the responsibility that comes with an email account (and is willing to tell you if they are receiving inappropriate messages).


It's not just within apps or on the iTunes App Store that kids can end up spending their parents' money without realising. In July 2013, a 14-month-old girl accidentally purchased a car using the eBay app when she was playing with her dad's iPhone. In this case, to prevent a child from being able to access your iPhone or iPad at all, you'll want to set up a device passcode.

How to set up an old iPad for kids: Passcode

To set up a passcode, open Settings and tap 'Touch ID & Passcode', then tap 'Turn Passcode On.'

You can then choose your passcode. By default it will ask for a six-digit code, but you can select an easier-to-remember four-digit one instead, or a more complex alphanumeric code if you want better security.


There have been a few high-profile incidents where parents were faced with huge App Store bills after their kids unwittingly downloaded apps and in-app purchases, so it's worth taking precautions to ensure that your children aren't able to do the same. In another article we have more information on how to disable in-app purchases.

If you want complete control over the apps that your child can install on the iPad, switch off restrictions if they're enabled, sit down with them, and choose some appropriate apps. When you've finished, switch restrictions On and toggle the Installing Apps option from green to white. This prevents your child from installing apps.

If you've got a young child, you should take responsibility for selecting apps on their behalf and purchasing and downloading the apps through your own App Store account. That way, not only will you know exactly what's on their iPad, but you can also deal with organising and configuring the apps yourself.

Older children will want an Apple ID of their own. If you let them set one up, they'll appreciate having the independence to download the apps and media they want, rather than simply the ones you've decided are appropriate. But there are some other benefits too: their apps are tied to their account and they won't have access to yours, some of which may be inappropriate for children. (If you go down this route, you may want to create a separate account for them on your Mac or PC too.)

Apple recommends that, for children over 13, you should create an individual Apple ID for them to use. While this removes the nuisance of having to turn restrictions on and off every time you want to use it, you will need to switch from your Apple ID to your child's and vice versa. However, the benefit is that you can ensure that your child's Apple ID has no credit card on file, meaning there's no money for them to spend in the first place.

How to set up an old iPad for kids: Sign out of Apple ID

In order to switch between Apple IDs, you'll need to go to Settings > iTunes & App Store and then tap on Apple ID to log out.

Gift cards

If you want to give your child a limited amount of money to spend on their own Apple ID, you can buy an App Store & iTunes Gift Card for them to use.

Of course, the other option is to keep your iPad or iPhone out of their reach completely.

Complaints and refunds

Back in 2014, Apple agreed to refund at least $32.5m (about £20m) to parents whose kids racked up huge bills through in-app purchases in the US. The agreement was made to settle a Federal Trade Commission complaint. As part of the settlement, Apple was also required to change its billing practices by 31 March 2014 to help prevent these occurrences from happening in the future.

According to the FTC, Apple received tens of thousands of complaints about unauthorised in-app purchases downloaded by kids.

On 30 January of that year, the UK's Office of Fair Trading (OFT) announced the introduction of new in-app purchase standards that were decided following a year-long investigation, and gave developers two months to update their apps to comply with the new guidelines.

From 1 April 2014, all apps were instructed to clearly disclose information about the costs associated with a game before it is downloaded, ensure that users are not led to believe they are required to pay in order to proceed if payment is not necessary, provide information about the app developer to enable the consumer to get in touch to make a complaint, and insist on "informed consent".

Additionally, the new principles also mean developers are no longer able to use language that disguises the commercial intent of any in-game promotion or paid-for content. For example, if an app uses similar language to encourage the player to buy one thing with in-game currency and the other with real money, it's unlikely to comply with the OFT standards as it's difficult to distinguish when real money is required. Another example is if a game encourages the player to play an aspect of the game that cannot be completed without making a payment.

These new guidelines should help prevent children from unintentionally spending real money within apps, but the easiest way to make sure that your kids don't end up downloading any apps or in-app purchases on your iOS device is to ensure that they never get hold of your password.

Each time they want to download or purchase something, it will ask for your Apple ID password. Enter your password yourself every time.

Put a case on it

Children don't try to break things, but it does seem to happen quite often. For this reason we strongly recommend making sure the iPad you're handing over has a reasonably robust case.

There are plenty of suitable options out there, and we've put together a guide to the best iPad cases for kids.

How to set up an old iPad for kids: Cases

The talk

Here's a general piece of advice: whenever you give - or rather, consider giving - your child access to a piece of technology, you should first sit down and chat to them about its benefits and dangers. In this case, the talk should address the importance of setting limits on iPad use, asserting your right as a parent to check up on your child and warning of the dangers of giving out personal details on the internet.

Bear in mind that, in order to be effective, the approach should be age-appropriate. You don't want to terrify younger children with visions of internet bogeymen, nor should you overprotect a teenager. Your advice should be similar to that for a traveller in a new city: get the lay of the land, learn about the dangers and opportunities and have a good time.

Additional reporting by Christopher Breen