Apple OKs pre-teen iTunes accounts upon school request

Teachers whose young pupils have iTunes accounts will get more control over their devices in the classroom

Apple is allowing children under 13 to have their own iTunes accounts as part of a new push coming later this year to increase the use of its iPad in education.

Previously, iTunes accounts had officially been available only to users age 13 and older, something that could have hampered schools in their use of Apple technology for teaching young children.

But as of Thursday, Apple had updated its terms and conditions to reflect an upcoming program that will allow schools to create accounts for young children once they've obtained "verifiable parental consent."

"This iTunes Service is only available for individuals age 13 years or older, unless you are under 13 years old and your Apple ID was provided to you as a result of a request by an approved educational institution," the new terms read in part.

The change is being matched by new mobile device management (MDM) options that will give teachers greater capabilities to control pupils' iPads.

They will be able to control app setup, access to documents or printing, and account changes. They'll also be able to stop children from switching to different apps during lesson time, so they won't be able to sneak a game of "Angry Birds" when they're supposed to be studying geography.

Pupils won't be required to have an Apple ID but doing so will provide a better learning experience, Apple said. It will also allow them to be part of a new volume licensing program for apps that will also be launched later this year.

The MDM protocol is part of iOS 7, the upcoming version of Apple's operating-system software for the iPhone and iPad. Apple hasn't announced a launch date for the software beyond the "fall" in North America.

Apple competitor Google requires users of its Play Store to be at least 13, and for those ages 13 to 18 to obtain parental permission before using the service. Google announced a new education initiative, Google Play for Education, at its I/O conference this year, to help get more Android tablets used in schools.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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