The plethora of gadgetry around the modern home makes family life more convenient and connected, but you don’t want your kids to stumble on unsuitable content, ordering hundreds of dollars of goods from Amazon, or spending more time on screens than they should—especially in this lockdown era.
To help, you’ll find a host of options and tools built into your devices, as well as inside the apps that you use most often. Here we’ll guide you through the key settings you need to know, and how they can keep your kids safe.
Just mentioning the built-in options on these devices and in these apps gives us plenty of room to cover, so we’re not going to mention the various third-party tools that are available. Just be aware that you can get more comprehensive parental controls—from the likes of Qustodio, Eset, Norton and many others—if you’re prepared to pay extra.
iPhones and iPads
If you’re lending your youngsters your own iPhone or iPad, and want to restrict them to one app, the easiest way to do this is via Guided Access. From Settings, choose Accessibility, then Guided Access, and turn it on—you can set up a passcode and time limits if needed. When you’re in the relevant app, triple-click the side button to launch Guided Access (it’s even possible to disable certain parts of the screen, if you need to).
If your kids have their own iDevices, you can manage them via Settings by tapping Screen Time, Continue, and This is My Child’s iPhone. The next screen lets you set how much time can be spent in apps, the allowed age ratings for games and movies, which apps can be run, whether purchases can be made, and so on. To be able to manage all this from your own iPhone or iPad, you need to turn on Family Sharing—Apple has a full guide here.
Android Phones and Tablets
As on iOS and iPadOS, you can lock your kids into a single app if you’re temporarily lending them your Android device. From Settings tap Security, Advanced, and Screen pinning to turn the feature on (with PIN protection). Bring up the list of recent apps (swipe up from the bottom of the screen and hold on Pixel devices), and you can tap an app’s icon and Pin to keep the focus on that app and that app only, until your PIN code is entered.