How to control your kids music on their ipods

Cory Hardware, Security, Web

I have four kids. Two of them are old enough (4 and 5) for ipods (I guess) and have recently each received one thanks to their very generous grandma. So among the iphones in the house, we now have an iPod4 and an iPod5.

The kids love their music. We have tons of home videos of them moving to the beat of their favorite Disney Pixar film or an old classic such as Mary Poppins. But they’ve been streaming said music from Pandora. They started off sharing my one and only Pandora account, which was fine, but then all of a sudden my oldest found the button that creates playlists and soon enough there were 100 kids music playlists in my account. Thankfully the ones I have been building for years were not mysteriously deleted. So I set up their Pandora apps under my other Pandora account – here they could go nuts. But soon, “going nuts” was driving my wife and I crazy. There’s no censorship within Pandora nor is there a way to keep the kids from following the breadcrumbs to music we didn’t want them to listen to Kelly Clarkson. So I had to come up with an idea to manage their music and I have to say my procedure is both simple and effective and I wish I had thought about it sooner.

Here’s how I now manage my kids music on their Apple iPods:
(Since people like numerical lists, I’ll layout it out just as such.)

1. Create a Google account. I created a Google account for my oldest some time back to use as an Apple ID and Facetime so that he and I can, well, Facetime during the day. I also wanted to secure an email account for him so that one day he can have a logical email address instead of something like ‘[email protected]

2. Get a bunch of kids songs. I recently just got over 1000 Disney songs for my kids. Got ’em all up on the computer, in an organized folder, separate from itunes.

3. Setup that Google account with Google Music. Google Music isn’t just for the web and Android devices. If you haven’t heard (you must live under a rock), Google Music lets you upload up to 20,000 songs for free to listen to from anywhere. It’s pretty amazing. When you setup your Google Music account, it will let you download the Music Manager. Within the computer app, you can tell Google Music where your folder is with all those kids songs in it. Then it’s just a matter of letting Google upload the scores of finely controlled and monitored music tracks you will allow your children to listen to.

4. Get an ad-free Google Music app. Go to the App Store on the iPod and find an ad-free app that will play your Google Music. I did some research and found gMusic to be the best. It’s worth the $1.99 to give my kids an ad-free, mess-free, minimal-messup interface.

After just those 4 steps and about the 15 minutes it took to setup, my kids are dancing around the house to Brother Bear and Aladdin, without a way to venture off into the abyss of uncontrolled, uncensored music. Wifi required.

Here are 3 main things I really like about this setup (numerical list #2):

1. Music is controlled from a central location, by me, not some robot.
2. Music is not stored on the iPod which means my son can actually have some games to play on his 8G iPod 4 (which doesn’t have nearly enough free space for music after all the photos of his arms and eyeballs he likes to take).
3. More than one iPod can sync with the Google Music collection. That’s right. Both of my kid’s iPods are synced with the same Google Music account and they can play the songs simultaneously. And since you can buy one app from the App Store and install it on your other iDevices for free, both of my kids are enjoying the same experience.

Not bad eh? Hopefully you’ve found this article useful and are also locking down your kids iPods to keep them safe and responsible.

Have any questions about how to better control a device or computer? Leave it in the comments.