Managing your child's iPod use with OurPact

by Eric

For his birthday last September, our eight year old asked for an iPod Touch. He’s been in his room ever since.

But seriously, when he got the iPod, we were able to set up a childrens’ account through Family Sharing in iOS8, which makes it so he can’t purchase new apps without first getting approved. We used Restrictions to turn off Safari and In-App purchases and tried to make it as safe an environment as possible.

After seeing how his parents have a tendency to be glued to their own devices, it shouldn’t have surprised us when he disappeared into his room and didn’t come out unless summoned. I looked into the different parenting apps and discovered:

  • An app that filled the screen with an alert that couldn’t be turned off until usage was allowed again (unless you reset the phone and didn’t load that app)
  • An app that used a VPN to allow you to monitor and block your child’s usage from your phone (except if the phone went to sleep, then when it was turned on again the VPN was disabled)
  • An app that produced an alarm that reminded him that it was time to turn off the phone (which, after hitting OK let him ignore and continue playing)

Finally, an actual useful solution was found - the OurPact app for iDevices (Android development is currently ongoing).


OurPact is an app you install on your device to schedule app usage on your children’s devices. Once I set up an account in the app, I was able to pair my son’s iPod to it and set up schedules where the device is blocked – where all non-Apple installed apps are turned off.


Additionally we have the ability to grant access remotely during these blocked hours (“Your homework is done early? Okay, you can have fifteen minutes of apps”) and block apps when they’re not (“Why can't he hear me calling? He’ll certainly hear me now…” – blocks apps –  “Oh, hi there.”).

You can even add multiple iDevices to monitor, which we did when I got a new phone and the younger siblings inherited my old one.

The only downsides we’ve noticed are that there isn’t yet the ability to give a daily allowance of hours and there’s no ability to block only certain apps – though we’ve been told those features are in development in future versions of the app.

OurPact is free for iOs and has been a nice way for us to help manage device usage in our home.

The beauty of a visual schedule

by Karen This is a post in an ongoing series I'm doing for Kids in the Capital to talk about our experience in going through the assessment process for our son, Brandon. My hope is to give ideas and insight to families of special needs children, as well as some creative ideas for families who want to incorporate different ideas, all while raising awareness and telling our story.


A couple of months ago, we took Brandon to a speech pathologist for a series of assessments on his speech/language skills. It was an interesting process. I got to see a very concentrated view of his transitioning abilities, which is an area we've had challenges with for a long time.

And let's face it: Change is hard!

The speech pathologist gave us two really good tactics (and even made some of the tools for us to start with)!

First Then

"First then" is a shortened visual schedule method. We've used it to emphasize pieces of the overall daily schedule at times. Other times we use it to make it clear to Brandon that before he can do what he wants, there's something he needs to do.

Having a visual reference gives a more concrete understanding of what's going on, particularly for children who comprehend visual information more readily than verbal, as is the case with Brandon (based on my personal observations).

Visual Schedule

A visual schedule is portable, flexible and gives an overview of the entire day or a block of time that has a series of transitions. When we use it (and admittedly, we don't always think about it), transitions go more smoothly. We discuss the schedule as we're laying it out and Brandon gets to provide input.

(It cracks me up when he removes bedtime from the schedule, though I'm always super serious and never let him know it's funny. Yeah, right. ;))

Our visual schedule consists of an odd mish mash of items, but as we get deeper into using this as a tool, I am thinking of lots more to add to it.

Getting Brandon involved gives him a sense of control about his activities. This is important for him. He needs to feel safe and secure in knowing what's coming next. We don't like to plan our weekends and often regret not having a plan because we haven't equipped ourselves to adequately prepare Brandon to move from one activity to the next. (We're a work in progress!)

The visual schedule and first then tools would be useful for any child, though some clearly benefit more than others. If you're interested in putting one together, here are a couple resources to help you get started (Google can tell you loads more!):

Factsheet for autism therapy: visual schedules, by Healing Threshold

How-to Templates: Visual Schedules (PDF), by HANDS in Autism

Because we're a tech geek family, I was keen to find out what was available for our iDevices. Turns out there's quite a bit! did a review of "10 Revolutionary iPad Apps to Help Autistic Children" and I think there's one I'm going to check for a free trial version with the intent to buy if it's good. They range from free to nearly $200 for more sophisticated functionality. (Depending on a child's needs, that $200 may be a cheap expense. iPods/iPads - we've found - are fantastic for helping Brandon explore and learn.)

These tools were my first glimpse of how the pros would end up helping us learn to cope differently. There is a heightened level of attention to detail required of us to accommodate Brandon's needs, but he's worth it. Besides, the right kind of attention mixed with the right frequency has never been known to hurt a child.


Karen Wilson is a wife to Matt and mom to Brandon (4), who blogs about her life at Karen’s Chronicles. She can be found at Wellman Wilson, helping businesses use social media more effectively. Karen is also committed to doing her part to keep the coffee industry alive, because who needs sleep?