Trust trolls to ruin a perfectly good iOS feature.
Apple AirDrop is a very convenient way to send pictures and other information between Apple devices using only Bluetooth. It’s a great way to instantly send content to a friend or a large number of people in your immediate space. And, naturally, teens and kids love it.
But, if you don’t have the proper settings or parental controls in place, it’s also the perfect arena for cyberbullying. That’s because AirDrop, unlike regular social media platforms like Snapchat and Instagram, has absolutely zero controls regarding content. Someone can send absolutely anything to you — or your child.
Take, for instance, a mass cyber flashing event that occurred on the London Tube in 2015. Everyone within a train car (about a 30 foot radius from the flasher) received a couple of nude pics from a stranger. While the recipients could refuse the entire drop, they were still subjected to a preview shot onscreen. It also meant the flasher was inside the car, watching reactions to the flash.
Being forced to see something that can’t be unseen is terrible, but when it’s the hands of a school-aged bully, it can get worse. For instance, in a Chicago area high school, a swastika was dropped during a school assembly to hundreds of kids. The perpetrator remained anonymous.
Another example: in 2018 at San Lorenzo High School in Alameda, CA, someone AirDropped a text message threatening a school shooting at 12:30pm. It turned out to be a hoax, but it triggered a traumatic lockdown at the school. A similar event occurred at Brunswick High School in Georgia, but in that case at least the student responsible was caught.
Obviously, AirDrop has a place in a student’s life, because kids often use it for homework and projects. It’s enormously efficient. It’s simply up to parents to set controls.
How to Set Up AirDrop Parental Controls
Here are some ways to safely use Apple AirDrop.
1. Set Limits
Go to Settings, choose General, and select AirDrop. Then, switch the setting from “Everyone” to “Contacts Only.”
2. Block Receiving
Do the same as above, but select “Receiving Off” to block all files. Your child can turn them back on when they want to receive something from someone they know and trust.
3. Shut It Off
AirDrop doesn’t need to be running all the time. You can turn it on whenever you need it.
Go to Settings >> select “Screen Time” >> select “Content & Privacy Restrictions” >> then hit “Allowed Apps.” Scroll down and turn AirDrop off.
To prevent your technologically-savvy child from overriding your parental settings, you can set a passcode by going to the last Settings option: “Use Screen Time Passcode.” Find more iPhone Parental Controls here.