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Tech Tip of the Week – Blocking explicit songs on the iPod

Michael Connolly

If your household is anything like mine, iPods rapidly become common property. If one of our kids can't find their own device, then they will grab the nearest one that's lying around. That's because we sync all our iPods from the same computer, saving time and money. If two of us like the same song, we only have to download it once. We all have our favorite playlists but we're pulling songs from the same library.

The system works well, with one exception. Up until now, there hasn't been a way to block songs with explicit lyrics. They got synced from the computer along with everything else and were impossible to keep off the individual devices. For our 9-year-old, that meant songs by Hannah Montana sat right alongside numbers from Jay-Z, Kanye and other artists that regularly got slapped with the iTunes "explicit" tag.

Now there is a way to block those songs – at least on the iPod Touch – and make sure those delicate ears don't get exposed to inappropriate lyrics at too young an age.

First, if you don't already have it, you will need to download the iPod Touch 3.1 software update. Surprisingly, Apple charges $4.95 for the update, but I guess they see all those other companies making money from their Apps Store and figure they deserve a piece too!

Once the updated software has been synced to your Touch, choose the Settings icon off your Home screen and select General. Then choose Restrictions. The first time you use Restrictions, you will be prompted for a Passcode, which will prevent your kids from disabling the settings at a later date.

Once you enter the Passcode, you will be presented with a series of Restrictions that can be set to On or Off. Here, if you wish, you can turn off the Safari browser or access to YouTube, the iTunes Store or the Apps Store. If you choose any of these options, the feature is disabled and the relevant icon is removed from the Home screen.

Right below the Application options are the Allowed Content options. To restrict access to songs with explicit lyrics, select Music & Podcasts and switch Allow Music & Podcasts Rated Explicit to "Off". Like the Applications, not only is access restricted but the song itself is removed from all lists on that device, so your child will never even know it was there!

The same Restrictions menu will also allow you to control access to Movies, TV Shows and Apps.

Do you have some helpful tech tips that you would like to pass on? Share them with The Online Mom and we will feature them in our Tech Tip of the Week!     

Comment by Joshua Bailey, posted 4/10/2011, 8:43 AM:

This doesn't work on all explicit content apparently (even on content purchased from iTunes). I still have some Insane Clown Posse music coming up without the Explicit tag, yet the song talks about killing bitches... They need to let the user mark their own content as Explicit or not, in case their own rating system fails, as it is doing today...
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