Once you let your children loose on a tablet or phone one of the major concerns for parents is your own ‘stuff’ on the device whether that is your photos, apps, email, videos, social media accounts or beyond. Without any restrictions, it’s amazing how even a toddler can somehow delete all your photos, email your boss or tweet to the world!
There are a number of steps you can take to child-proof your Apple iPad or iPhone to avoid disaster… even if you don’t intend to let your child use your phone or tablet the steps are well worth taking just in case he finds it in your bag or manages to manoeuvre it out of your pocket when you’re not looking!
We also suggest you get a case/bumper to protect your device see more details here: Tablet cases and protection
If you hand your old device down to a child (and you will no longer use it) we recommend you first remove all your content from it – resetting it by plugging into a computer and selecting ‘Reset’ within iTunes is the easiest way. If on the other hand it’s your device or one a child shares there are a number of things you can do:
- Restrictions: These are the most useful feature on Apple devices when you have children around. You will find a section called Restrictions within Settings
> General on all iPhones and iPads. By setting a 4 digit passcode when you turn restrictions on, you can then choose what you want your children to access. You can pop back to the settings and change them easily whenever you like. We suggest you leave Restrictions turned ‘on’ all the time and change individual settings rather than turning restrictions off as it then forgets all your previous settings. Restrictions you can set include:
- Disabling Safari, Camera, iTunes store, Installing/deleting apps, in-app purchasing, rated films/music content that are permitted, not allowing changes to your calendar/facebook/twitter etc.
- Guided Access Mode: This mode locks a user into an app – requiring a 4 digit passcode to exit. However, it’s not available on first generation iPad or iPhones prior to the iPhone 4. The mode is found within Settings > General > Accessibility. Again you can turn this on and leave it on, when you want to lock your child into one app simply triple-click the Home button once you’re in the app you want her to use. You will be prompted to choose a 4-digit passcode (it can be different every time if you like – you just need the same one to exit), then choose start. The Home button, volume button and power button will then have no effect. To exit the app triple-click the Home button again and enter the same passcode, then choose End.
- Airplane Mode: If you are worried about access to the internet, posting on social media, accidental purchases or anything that requires internet access another good idea for younger children (before they are old enough to just change it back) is to turn on Airplane Mode when you hand over the device. That way they can’t use the internet. Even if they try to send emails or post to social media the messages will stay in your outbox rather than actually being sent – it’s worth checking your outboxes when you get your device back before turning the internet back on though!
- Apps: Unfortunately there is no way to prevent access to individual apps you may have downloaded. We wish there was a way to passcode lock folders but sadly that’s not something Apple offer yet. For apps that require a password for purchase or access to sensitive information, we suggest, wherever possible, preventing the app from remembering your password so that there is at least some barrier for children. We also suggest putting apps you don’t want them to use in a folder of their own separate from the content they use regularly – some children just never bother to look at them but you can’t rely on it. If you’re really worried about specific apps you can always delete them and re-download them as many times as you like.
- Email: This is the hardest thing to protect within Apple devices as there is no option to restrict email use (much as we’d like there to be). Airplane mode may be of some help or Guided Access mode, and hiding Mail in a folder that looks unappealing might minimise accidental use. However, the only really safe answer is to remove your mail from the Mail app and instead access it via webmail each time – not a great solution we know but at least safe!
For tips on any other topics related to children’s tablets visit: Tablet tips & eSafety