If you’ve got kids and an Android phone or tablet, you know too well that sometimes they are going to want to have a play or learn with some toddler apps. On occasion, you might also want to hand over the Android device to your child as a distraction: You might be stuck in a waiting room, on public transport, or just wanting them to be quiet for a few minutes while you use the phone.
However, it’s a bit worrying to entrust such as device to a child – and that’s not even considering the cost of the device. In order to ensure your data and wallet are protected from what your child might do while it’s in their hands, you need to set things up correctly from the start. Even without a malicious thought, a child on an unprotected Android device can quickly spend money, browse unsavoury websites, delete things and generally create a headache for you.
Here’s what you can do to child proof your Android phone.
1). A Variety Of Phone-Locking Options And Tools
There are loads of great apps that will help you to child-proof your Android phone (and we’ll look at these in a minute), but there are also a lot of other things you can do to protect your phone from the random, or not-so-random, button pressing of a child. You’ll probably want to use a few of these methods together.
2). Lock Your Screen
The first thing you need to do is be sure your kid can’t get into your phone when you leave it lying around. Go to Settings > Security > Screen Lock and choose a PIN, pattern or password lock for your screen.
3). Create A New User Profile
Android 4.2 Jelly Bean users can create new user profiles. As for your regular computer, ideally you would set up a new user account for your child in order to protect your data, and to restrict purchasing power.
4). Password-Protect Google Play
In order to ensure you aren’t charged for apps, movies and books your child wants or mistakenly buys, you should password-protect access to the Google Play store. To protect yourself, you can go through the settings in the Google Play app. Check the box next to the “Password” option in order to use a password to restrict purchases.
5). Lock Settings
Using an app like Settings Profile Lite [No Longer Available], you can choose to lock the sound, data connection and notifications for a user.
6). Lock Apps With Blacklist
You can use an app like App Lock to individually lock people out of certain apps unless they have the pin, essentially creating a blacklist of apps you don’t want your child touching.
7). Use A Child-Locked App
With toddlers, it’s possible to let them use just one app, which is locked so they can’t get out to the rest of your phone. Apps like Toddler Lock are great for this. This approach won’t work so well for older kids as they might know how to circumnavigate the lock (for instance, via the notification bar). Little kids will still need to be watched as they could accidentally get out of the app.
8). Child-Locked White list Of Apps
For children who need a bit more stimulation and choice, it’s possible to use a locked app which creates a child-locked sandbox of the best apps for kids specifically white listed by the parent. Most of these are in the form of a launcher app, such as Play Safe, Kid Mode, Famigo, and Kids Place (links follow). This stops the kids from being able to use the rest of the apps on the machine and usually locks them into the app with a PIN. When they press the home button, it will redirect them back to the app. Often calls are blocked while the app is in use.
9). Browser Limits
Using the right app, you can set limitations on your child’s browser usage. You can either blacklist or white list the websites allowed via the browser. Set-up is usually via an online parental account and can be adjusted according to your needs.
10). Settings Profile Lite
Parents can manually or automatically activate Settings Profile Lite in order to set rules for various Android settings. These include notifications, volume, Wi-Fi, 3G, call blocking, auto-syncing and all sorts of other things you might like to turn off or limit when a child has your device.
11). Heavy-Duty Case
Children aren’t renowned for taking good care of belongings. Hand over your $800+ device, and you’re likely to see it go crashing into a wall, taking a fall, or being sat on.
The solution is a heavy-duty case. There are several good cases available in the market. You could also take a more kid-friendly approach: Amazon sells iPhone cases featuring everything from Pikachu to Mario.
12). Screen Protector
For some people, it’s not practical to put their iPhone in a case. For example, if your kid plays with your work-supplied device, you can’t realistically strut into your next meeting with a dinosaur-themed design on it.
However, at the very least, you should use a screen protector. In fact, kids or no kids, it’s a must-have iPhone accessory.
13). Electrical Safety
Depending on how old your child is, charging your device could have a few risks.
Young children should never be around a live current. Their propensity to put objects in their mouths, fiddle around, and generally explore their immediate environment places them in jeopardy of getting an electric shock.
So don’t ever let toddlers play without close supervision on a device that’s charging. And remember, you should always put plug protectors in all your exposed electrical sockets as a safety standard.
14). Family Sharing
The Family Sharing feature lets you share your iTunes, iBooks, and App Store purchases with up to five other users. It also enables you to create shared calendars, photo albums, and iCloud storage.
One person in the Family Sharing account is the Family Organizer; all purchases use that person’s credit card. Each user will still have their own Apple ID.
For managing children’s habits, Family Sharing is excellent. You can ensure you receive an Ask to Buy alert every time your child tries to download something. You can then approve or reject the download (and purchase) as you wish. If you create an Apple ID for someone under 13, these alerts are enabled by default.
Family Sharing is also is also useful for times when you’re away. For example, you could temporarily allow a grandparent or babysitter to approve purchases.
15). Guided Access
If you want to keep your children using the current app and prevent them from switching to another, you should use Guided Access. This feature will disable volume controls, motion controls, touch controls, and keyboards.
To turn on Guided Access, go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Guided Access. And to enable Guided Access during regular use, triple-press the Home button.
16). Use Third-Party Apps
Remarkably, iPhones still don’t support multiple users. The lack of this support makes it a challenge to keep your important documents, emails, and photos away from your kid’s fingers. After all, your child might have their own accounts that they want to add.
Instead of piling all your mail accounts into Apple’s native email app, why not download different third-party apps and add your email accounts separately?
You can do the same with third-party apps for the various social networks, as well as calendars, browsers, and other productivity tools. Doing so will keep your messages, agendas, web history, and everything else entirely separate.
17). Use of Folders
iOS has supported home screen folders that organize your apps for a long time. So instead of leaving all your apps jumbled up with your kid’s apps, why not put your apps into two separate folders? Each folder can act as a portal into that user’s iPhone world.
Using separate folders also enhances the benefits of using multiple third-party apps as we just mentioned.
If you don’t want to keep flicking through lots of apps in one folder to find what you’re looking for, get in the habit of using Spotlight.
18). Use iTunes Gift Cards
As your child grows older, you might want to start teaching them about the value of money. A good approach is to use iTunes gift cards to add a small amount of money to your kid’s iTunes balance each month.
You will still have to approve the purchases, but it will take some of the heat off your credit card while simultaneously giving children control over their spending.
19). Gift Apps
Lastly, did you know it’s possible to gift apps from one Apple ID to another?
Therefore, our final suggestion is to make an Apple ID specifically for the device your kid uses, then buy the apps using your own Apple ID and gift them across as needed.
If you pay attention to the 10 points we’ve discussed, you’ll be well on the way to providing a safe and enjoyable Android and iOS user experience for your children. Remember, constant supervision is always the key.