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Tag: iPad

This Mistake will Doom your iPad’s Photos and Videos

Are you backing up the media files you want to iCloud? I wasn’t, and I didn’t know it. And then the unthinkable happened. Here’s how to avoid my iPad’s fate.

Once upon a time, backing up the content on my iPhone and iPad used to mean regularly tethering them to my iMac. It was something of a laborious process, but necessary. Then iCloud showed up, and everything started to back up magically on its own. It was easy.

Set it and forget it. That’s progress, right?

But removing the chore of physically backing up my digital life also eroded my awareness of the details needed to ensure that my precious data was being properly backed up in the background.

Over the past couple of years, I must admit I haven’t thought about this much. And during the same period, my 11-year-old son effectively became the primary user of the family iPad.
(Minecraft, photo taking, videos of our cat)

How I Lost all of my Son’s Photos and Videos
Everything was working great, until it wasn’t, and the family IT guy was called in to help the iPad out. I quickly realized the iPad needed some real support and brought my iPad’s problems to the experts. It was decided to wipe the iPad, give it a fresh start… and then reload all of its data that was safely backed up in iCloud.


Except all of the iPad’s data wasn’t being backed up. When my iPad completed its restore, all of my son’s photos and videos from the past few years were gone.

You might imagine I was a tad disturbed by this. And I may have become slightly catatonic when it was determined that the little setting to back up the iPad’s Photo Library to iCloud had not been activated.

It’s a rookie mistake. And while a huge part of me wanted to push blame elsewhere, it was ultimately my responsibility.

My son handled the loss much better than me. (He immediately began shooting new photos and videos of our cat.) He was also especially relieved that his many Minecraft worlds survived the iPad’s wipe.

Simplicity and Complacency
So, life goes on in the Lester home. My son hasn’t complained about his lost photos and videos. All seems normal.

I tell myself that this cautionary tale is a good lesson for my son to help him understand the importance of properly backing up his future digital files.

And it’s a painful reminder for me how simplicity can create complacency.

On the positive side, I’ve got better backup systems for the content in the remainder of my Apple hardware.

All this said, it’s probably a good idea to occasionally check any device’s settings for its iCloud backup plan. (Don’t just set it and forget it.)

Here’s how to do that.

How to Back Up Correctly to iCloud
To create a full backup of what’s on your iPad via iCloud, you first need to pay for enough iCloud storage to handle it. My family’s Apple devices are collecting sharing the 200 GB iCloud+ storage plan. ($2.99/month)

Then, you’ve got to tell your iPad what to back up. This is how to find the right setting for your Photo Library:

  • Tap “Settings”
  • Tap your name and face on top
  • Go to “iCloud”
  • Tap “Manage Storage”
  • Tap “Backups”
  • Tap your device’s backup
  • Tap “Choose Data to Back Up”
  • Look for “Photo Library” on top…
  • Slide the digital switch to the green setting!

Then, do the same for everything else you want to back up to iCloud.

Easy, right? But, you’ve got to do it.

Finding Peace with my Mistake
It’s been a few weeks since the ‘Lester iPad Incident’, and I’ve remained unsettled. Sure, I can attribute my error to the flaws of humanity and this human in particular. But I know I would feel better if it made more sense.

And then I figured it out…

A couple years back, I wasn’t paying for an iCloud storage plan. So, of course, the free 5 GBs of iCloud storage wouldn’t be enough for my son’s photos and videos. And so they sat there in the iPad, unprotected.
(Bad daddy)

When I finally upgraded to the 200 GB storage plan, I didn’t consider my son’s media on the iPad, and I didn’t update its iCloud storage settings to finally include the iPad’s Photo Library. (Forgetful daddy)

I had also chosen not to activate iCloud Photos, which would sync the photos to mirror images in iCloud as opposed to generating a backup file. That’s because I had wanted to keep my son’s digital media in a separate ecosystem from my own.
(Shortsighted daddy)

Looking to the Future
I think it’s time to properly recognize my son’s digital media creation and generate a child account for my son to use on the iPad. He needs his own digital space.
(Better daddy)

Yes, my son is growing up, and I need to keep up with all of his developing interests.
(More present daddy)

But it’s not only about flicking a couple of digital switches and paying for cloud storage. You’ve really got to own, organize and properly back up your digital content.

It’s a life-long endeavor and an important reminder for children of all ages.

How Parents Can Take Control of Notifications on the Family iPad

If your children are starting to read iMessages on your iPad or iPhone that aren’t meant for them, it’s probably time to change the settings in your device. Here’s how…

So, my almost eight-year-old is playing Minecraft on my iPad in the living room, and he turns to me and says, “Mommy is writing me a message!”


I’m a little alarmed, because even though my wife wasn’t at home, she never uses electronic communications with our son and certainly not using something like Minecraft.
(You can probably guess that I’ve been thinking a lot lately about who he will be interacting with when he eventually engages in multiplayer video games online.)

I jump over to take a look.


It’s a simple text message banner that popped up at the top of the iPad screen from my wife to me about camp plans for our second grader this summer.

It has absolutely nothing to do with the Minecraft platform.

The Early Taste of a Texting Stream
My wife referenced our son’s name in the text, which is why he mistakenly thought it was written to him.

Yes, he can read now, but he got confused by the style of my wife’s texting banter with me.
(Plus, it’s probably one of the first texts that he’s encountered.)

So, this wasn’t really a problem other than an iMessage to my iPhone also showing up on my linked iPad that my son happened to be using.

Ironically that feature is supposed to be a nice iOS bonus provided by Apple.
But it was clearly time to turn the option off on my iPad.

Our son doesn’t need to be privy to the Lester family texting stream…
(Well, at least… not yet!)

How to Turn Off Pop-Up Text Banners
Using iOS 11.3 –

  • Tap the ‘Settings’ gear icon
  • Tap ‘Notifications’
  • Tap ‘Show Previews’
    You’ll probably find that it’s defaulted to ‘Always’
  • Tap and change to ‘Never’

But that’s not all you have to do…

There is No Global ‘Off’ Switch
I decided to visit the Apple Store in Grand Central Terminal to gather a little more advice.

An Apple Genius told me that you also have to individually turn off each app from proactively trying to send you banner notifications on your device.
(He mentioned that detail to me several times. I imagine I’m not the only one who might be confused by the extra step.)

To ‘completely’ halt your iMessage banners…
While in Notifications, go down your list of apps until you find ‘Messages.’

  • Tap ‘Messages’
  • In ‘Allow Notifications,’ slide the little circle to the ‘off’ position

And that will finally get the job done!

Now, you’ve got to repeat this step for your other apps…

There are a few other settings to consider if you want to be a little less draconian about muffling your iPad or iPhone, but I was satisfied with hobbling my iPad to keep my young Padawan away from the constant buzz of the Net. My iPhone was providing that Borg-like public service to me quite sufficiently, thank you very much.
(I know I’m mixing my science fiction metaphors.)

But then I began to think about my own experience with my iPhone’s many chatty apps…

Less is More
After considering the issue for a moment, I decided that I was, in fact, being interrupted by way too many banners from apps wanting to share ‘critical’ news.

Perhaps I should take a few minutes to review all of them and silence the ones I didn’t want to hear from all of the time.

And that’s exactly what I did!

Of course, I kept ‘Messages’ fully activated, but I did turn off ‘Repeat Alerts’ from ‘Once’ to ‘Never.’
(I usually get it the first time.)

You Can’t Hide Your Child from the Connected World Forever
Now, I find that my iPhone is a little less ‘disruptive.’

My iPad shares nothing from the outside world with my son.

And I fully acknowledge that this is only the beginning.
It’s a long journey ahead for me and my boy.
(I know that as a parent, I can’t keep the ‘off switch’ activated forever…)

My son has asked for multiplayer mode in Minecraft for his 8th birthday… so he can play remotely with his friends.

To be continued…

How Much Screen Time Should Your Child Get?

Once upon a time, my six-year-old son lived happily in a limited universe of video exposure. Now, he’s asking for more. What’s a parent to do…?

Once upon a time, my six-year-old son lived happily in a limited universe of video exposure. Now, he’s asking for more. What’s a parent to do…?

How much TV did you watch when you were a kid? As for me… I wasn’t allowed a whole lot of television, especially during my elementary school years.

That said, I do remember watching “The Wonderful World of Disney” on Sunday nights after I took a bath and got into my pajamas. There was also “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom,” which my parents green-lit.

A few years later, I began to stretch when I got my TV time. For example, I watched the half-hour animated “Star Trek” series on Saturday mornings if I had made a noticeable dent in my homework.

I recall a few other shows, including “H.R. PuffnStuf,” “The Monkees,” and the original “Star Trek,” which was on WPIX TV in reruns at an inconvenient time slot on Saturdays at 6pm… my family’s dinner hour. So my mother had to figure out some fancy dinner scheduling to allow me to sneak into my parent’s bedroom to watch the next adventure of the crew of the Starship Enterprise while my dad ate his dinner.
(Remember, there was a time before VCRs existed.)

Lean TV Diet
Certain ‘educational’ shows also passed muster with my mom. A few were fun like “Sesame Street.” Others were kind of boring… but I was told they were good for me…so I struggled through.

I also remember the occasional Sunday afternoon black and white movie ‘classic’ on TV.
(Like 1939’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” with Charles Laughton.)

But I think it’s fair to say, my relationship with TV viewing when I was young was fairly limited.
(It was certainly not an all-you-can-eat buffet.)

Not an Expert
So I take this past experience and try to use it today for reference as my wife and I try to figure out how much screen time our-six-year-old son should be allowed to watch a week.

It’s such a complicated media landscape with the potential for my son to access so much screen exposure both at home and at school.

I know I’m not the first parent to contemplate such questions, and I’ve got to admit I don’t have rock-solid answers.

I expect this is going to be something of a Pandora’s box, but let me share what is most certainly NOT the final word on this topic.
(It’s extremely fair to say it’s a work in progress.)

I gladly invite other opinions to help guide my own perspective…

But a reader brought the topic to me last week.
So I thought I’d give it a go…

Consistency Matters
The core of my answer over the past couple of years has simply been this:

But as our son has gotten older, that simple recipe has been challenged…

First off, the length of time between when he pops out of bed and when we end up having breakfast can vary anywhere between 45 and 90 minutes.

That variance creates an inconsistent number of shows he gets to watch from week to week. And that doesn’t work so well for him.

So we’ve had to adjust the morning plan to a specific and consistent number of videos.

Okay… that particular adjustment wasn’t so hard to handle.

Outside Influences
Recently, he’s started asking about programming that isn’t quite age appropriate for him yet. I imagine he’s simply been exposed to the existence of this other content through conversations with his kindergarten friends.

My wife and I have successfully held the line on these requests and not introduced other content simply because other kids in his class are talking about it.

For example, he’s mentioned “Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders” a few times. Not that Scooby-Doo and Shaggy are really going to rot his brain, but I know there’s better content out there.

LEGO Assault
More challenging scenarios have developed when he’s personally uncovered new video opportunities. This has recently begun happening through the main page of Netflix Kids.
(‘Top picks for kids’)

Then, he’s really pumped up.

The major example to date has been through the universe of “LEGO Ninjago.”

A few months back, he ran into one of the Ninjago books at the library and was immediately enchanted with the four little Lego Ninja warriors and their Sensei Wu. It didn’t take long for him to figure out that there was a companion animated LEGO series available on Netflix Kids.
(“LEGO Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu”)

And yes, after he found it, we tried out the first episode together.

Guess, what…?
It was like eating sugar for the first time.

If we let him, he would have binge-watched all three seasons on Netflix on that first day. He really loved the continuing storyline.
(Seasons 1-6 are available on Cartoon Network.)

We wrestled a bit over how many episodes he could watch per sitting.
But even one or two episodes a pop totally disrupted the peaceful pace and balance of his previous media consumption patterns.
(We had all been cast out of our gentle Garden of Media Eden.)

After he finished Ninjago, Netflix offered up a “LEGO Bionicles” series (“The Journey to One”) based on the Bionicles he loves to build.
(Netflix, please stop being so helpful!)

Parental Guidance Required
I gave it a thumbs up, but I had my doubts… gives this Bionicles’ series a reasonable review, although they do rate it as age 7+.
(There’s a lot of cartoon robot fighting.)

Technically, by that standard, our boy is still a year out from when he should be watching this level of content.

But I also recognize that children mature at different rates, and their ability to absorb challenging content and imagery varies.
(Ultimately, I was okay with my six year old and “The Journey to One.”)

I know a couple parents who took their six year olds to “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” My boy is nowhere near ready for that level of screen intensity. I’m certainly eager to introduce him to the Force, but it will first be through the much gentler “A New Hope.”
(Still, Darth Vader is a pretty scary dude.)

Family Movie Night
One successful idea my wife and I have used to guide the direction of new video content for our son has been the creation of our ‘family movie night.’

I put the iPad away and power up our hulking HDTV on the occasional Saturday…

We treat it like something of an event, and we all settle in together to watch an age-appropriate movie that my wife and I choose.

My son has generally enjoyed family movie night on the big screen, although he’s still getting used to the idea of being presented with ‘unknown’ content.

One time, he wasn’t so sure he would like 2006’s “Charlotte’s Web.”
(There weren’t any cool robots in it.) But this irresistible movie with an all-star voice cast for the animals quickly melted away any doubts.

Questioning the Rules
So I know my wife and I are still at the beginning of our journey to guide my son through a limitless supply of video opportunities and to help him consume ‘quality’ and age-appropriate content during his early years.

I imagine what I’ve documented here might draw a few opinions. Some may point out the discrepancy between my own upbringing and the relative loose set of rules I’ve employed to date.

(Welcome to parenthood.)

But if sharing my story has been of assistance to anyone with some of the same questions, then perhaps I’ve contributed my small piece towards the greater good.

Let me know your thoughts…

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