How to Lock Your Kids Into a Single iPad App

Geek Culture

Student on iPadStudent on iPad

Photo: Brad Flickinger, used under Creative Commons Attribution license.

Like it or not, if you own a tablet, your kids probably own it more. We’ve had a heck of a time keeping tabs on our son’s use of the thing, but I may have a solution for at least restricting him from switching into something inappropriate, or spending a mint on new apps.

At certain times, he’s allowed to play whatever he wants. He bounces between his favorite apps like a chipmunk on espresso (recent picks include Monster Dash and Car Town Streets, which are both of, shall we say, negligible educational value). Other times, though, we’d prefer that he spend time on more enriching fare, like Numbers League or the drop-dead amazing Reading Rainbow app. Until recently, I had no idea how to keep him focused on a single app. I’d check the app history and admonish him if he broke the rules, but sometimes it’s helpful to show the kids who’s boss.

So I was delighted to discover a post on OS X Daily outlining how to use the Guided Access feature in iOS to essentially lock the device into a single app. Hidden within the Accessibility settings is a switch that allows you to turn on Guided Access, set a passcode, and then triple-click the home button to turn on the Guided Access mode from within the app you’d like to lock. Just triple click when you’re done and enter the passcode to leave Guided Access code.

Sure, it’s better to trust that your kids will do as you say, but we all know that’s not always going to happen.

Update: GeekMom Cathe Post recommends the free Kids Place – Parental Control for Android. She uses it on a Kindle Fire, but it appears to work for Android 2.1 and up. Also, here’s a reminder about screen time recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics: none for 2 and under, less than two hours a day for kids over 2, and touchscreens count.

Enable “Kid Mode” on iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch with Guided Access in iOS on OS X Daily

(Image: student_ipad_school – 232, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from Brad Flickinger’s photostream)

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