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What parents need to know about Apple AirDrop

There have been cases of people being harassed and bullied after being sent random photos or messages.

MINNEAPOLIS — Do you use AirDrop on your iPhone and iPad? If you don’t, odds are your kids do. 

AirDrop is a feature on Apple products that lets you instantly send files to other iPhone or MAC users who are physically close to you – even if you don’t know them.  All you need is WiFi or Bluetooth.

That ease of sharing has created some concerns, especially for parents.   Around the country there have been cases of people being sent random photos or messages, and sometimes they are harassing or bullying.

In one Chicago area high school, a swastika was sent to hundreds of students during a school assembly.

“It makes you nervous, like you’re seeing these things that are targeting you,” said one of the students.

There have been multiple cases of school threats delivered via AirDrop. Other times, people have received unwanted sexual pictures.

“When I receive an airdrop, you kind of don’t know who it’s from. So you can hide and do it anonymously and people don’t know. It has certainly heightened some of the behaviors around cyber bullying," said Maijue Lochungvu with St. Paul Public Schools.  She teaches families how to navigate new social media technology – like AirDrop.

Lochungvu says AirDrop has benefits in the educational setting. Students use it for homework, assignments and group projects. Teachers can send materials and assignments to their class.

But like almost any technology, it can be abused.

Luckily, Lochungvu says parents have tools to stop that.  “The features are there so you could customize who you receive these AirDrops from,” she explains.

Or you could just turn it off. Below, we have instructions on how to customize your child's phone settings. 

Lonchungvu says setting these limits is just another part of parenting in the digital age.

“I have 3 kids of my own, I have to monitor their screen time. I have to monitor what they’re doing,” she says.

To set limits on who can send you AirDrop files:

Go to settings. Tap General. Then find airdrop. You can choose “Everyone”, “Receiving off” which blocks all files. Or you can choose to allow only your contacts to AirDrop.

To Turn Off AirDrop permanently:

Go to settings then tap “Screen time” and then “content and privacy restrictions”. Next tap “Allowed Apps”, scroll down and slide AirDrop off.

Set a Passcode:

To keep your kid from overriding your settings, set a passcode.

Again, go to Settings and go to the last option which is “Use Screen Time Passcode”.

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