Trust trolls to ruin a perfectly good iOS feature like AirDrop, making it a perfect arena for cyberbullying or sexual harassment. That’s because, unlike regular social media platforms like Snapchat and Instagram, there is no specific AirDrop parental control feature, per se. Someone can send absolutely anything to you — or your child.
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 is AirDrop flashing really an issue? Oh yes.
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. And there are safety controls you can set on the phone to make things a little safer.
How to Safely Use 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.