How to Lock Your Child Into an iPhone App

We know from expe­ri­ence that all sorts of bad things can hap­pen when a child exits a kid-friend­ly app. From gar­bled text mes­sages and reset iOS set­tings to sur­prise piz­za deliv­er­ies and even $200 in acci­den­tal pur­chas­es, the poten­tial for your child to get into trou­ble seems lim­it­less. Thank­ful­ly, Apple offers an acces­si­bil­i­ty-relat­ed tool called Guid­ed Access.

Guid­ed Access gives par­ents the pow­er to restrict their child to access­ing and using a sin­gle app. By set­ting up this fea­ture, you get to decide what you want your child to inter­act with on the iPhone or iPad and make every­thing else off-lim­its unless they come to you for per­mis­sion. In this resource, we’ll teach you how to use Guid­ed Access to your advan­tage. You’ll also learn more advanced tips for restrict­ing your child’s move­ments. So, let’s get started!

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How to Restrict Your Child to an App with Guided Access

We cre­at­ed a video demon­stra­tion of how to set up and use Guid­ed Access on your iPhone with Jel­lies as an exam­ple. While we focus on the iPhone in this demon­stra­tion, the process for set­ting up Guid­ed Access on your iPad is very sim­i­lar. You can watch the video above or fol­low these writ­ten instruc­tions to set up Guid­ed Access on your device:

  • Step 1: Locate the Set­tings icon in your iPhone. Tap to enter.
  • Step 2: Select Gen­er­al” and then Acces­si­bil­i­ty.”
  • Step 3: Scroll to the bot­tom of the screen and tap Guid­ed Access.”
  • Step 4: Tog­gle Guid­ed Access to on. (TIP: You can also set up a pass­word here to make it even more dif­fi­cult for your child to acci­den­tal­ly turn off Guid­ed Access. Tap Pass­word Set­tings” to input your pre­ferred, four-dig­it pass­word. Don’t for­get it!)
  • Step 5: Return to the home screen by press­ing the Home but­ton on your iPhone.
  • Step 6: Tap into the app you want your child to use. Make sure the app is ready for your child. For exam­ple, if you want­ed your child to only watch his or her videos in Jel­lies, you would need to select Kids Mode” to open the video player.
  • Step 7: Tap the Home but­ton three times to start Guid­ed Access mode.
  • Step 8: When your child is fin­ished using the app, tap the Home but­ton three times. You’ll be asked to input your pass­word if you set that up earlier.
  • Step 9: Tap End” to dis­able Guid­ed Access. You now can use your iPhone and all your apps like normal. 

Bonus tip: You can use your fin­ger­print instead of a pass­code to turn off Guid­ed Access. This is espe­cial­ly use­ful if you already use Touch ID to unlock your iPhone or iPad and hate hav­ing to remem­ber pass­codes. In order to use Touch ID with Guid­ed Access, you’ll need to first set up Touch ID on your device. Then, instead of select­ing a pass­code in the Guid­ed Access set­tings, sim­ply opt to use Touch ID.

Control What Your Child Can Do in the App

Guid­ed Access offers oth­ers ways to fur­ther reg­u­late your child’s iPhone and iPad expe­ri­ence. Here are a few more tips if you want to dive deep­er into deter­min­ing what your chil­dren can and can’t do on your device using Guid­ed Access.

You can enable the fol­low­ing options in the Guid­ed Access Options screen. To get there, open the app you want your child to use and tap the Home but­ton three times to turn on Guid­ed Access. Then tap the Home but­ton three more times and tap Options” in the low­er left corner.

Dis­able Sleep Mode: If your device is set up to go to sleep after a cer­tain num­ber of min­utes, you can bypass that in Guid­ed Access mode. This is use­ful if your child is locked inside a video app and prefers to watch with­out reg­u­lar­ly touch­ing the screen. Keep in mind, how­ev­er, that this will drain your bat­tery faster than usu­al. To dis­able Sleep Mode, make sure the Sleep/​Wake But­ton” is tog­gled on.

Lock the Vol­ume: You can pre­vent your child from turn­ing the vol­ume way up or down by tog­gling the Vol­ume But­tons” set­ting to off.

Turn off Motion: This option pre­vents your device’s screen from chang­ing from land­scape to por­trait mode when your child turns the iPhone or iPad. Sim­ply tog­gle off Motion.”

Turn Off Key­boards: You can also pre­vent your child from access­ing any key­boards. This is use­ful when your child has access to an app with a search bar or oth­er fea­ture that requires a key­board to use. Be sure to tog­gle off Key­boards.”

Make Cer­tain Areas of an App Off-Lim­its: Guid­ed Access also allows you to des­ig­nate dif­fer­ent parts of an app as off-lim­its for your child. To do this, with Guid­ed Access start­ed tap the Home but­ton three times to get to the Guid­ed Access menu screen.

Guided Access menu screen

With your fin­ger, cir­cle the areas of the screen you want to mark off-lim­its for your child. For exam­ple, you can draw a cir­cle around the lock icon in the upper right cor­ner of the Jel­lies Kids Mode screen so that your child can­not tap that icon to return to Par­ents Mode. While Jel­lies Par­ents Mode is already locked down with a sim­ple math prob­lem, we know how smart some kids are. 

Turn Off Touch Entire­ly: Don’t want your child to tap on any­thing in the app? You can dis­able Touch to pre­vent your child from roam­ing to oth­er parts of the app or oth­er­wise inter­act­ing with the app. Just nav­i­gate to the Guid­ed Access Set­tings screen and tog­gle off Touch.”

Set a Time Limit with Guided Access

Guid­ed Access also pro­vides an option to play a sound or speak how much time is remain­ing while your child is using your iPhone or iPad. Fol­low these steps to enable this feature:

  • Step 1: From the Home screen, tap Set­tings.”
  • Step 2: Select Gen­er­al.”
  • Step 3: Tap Acces­si­bil­i­ty.”
  • Step 4: Scroll to the bot­tom of the screen and select Guid­ed Access.”
  • Step 5: Tap Time Limits.”

In the Time Lim­its screen you can set up how the time lim­it fea­ture oper­ates with­in Guid­ed Access. You’ll want to choose a sound and whether you want a spo­ken time reminder. Fol­low these steps to turn on the time lim­it with­in Guid­ed Access:

  • Step 1: Go back to the Home screen and select which app you want your child to use. 
  • Step 2: Press the Home but­ton three times to enable Guid­ed Access.
  • Step 3: Press the Home but­ton three more times and input your pass­word (if you assigned one) to pull up the Guid­ed Access menu screen. 
  • Step 4: Tap Options” and tog­gle Time Lim­it to on
  • Step 5: Set the time and tap Done.
  • Step 6: Tap Resume and voila! Your iPhone will now play a sound when time is up.

iPhone Parental Controls Only Go So Far

Guid­ed Access offers a few key tools for par­ents who allow their chil­dren to use their iPhones. This fea­ture is even more effec­tive when you ensure that your child is inter­act­ing with an engag­ing, edu­ca­tion­al, kid-appro­pri­ate app like Jel­lies. While Guid­ed Access can help you pro­tect your child from oth­er, not-so-appro­pri­ate apps and web­sites, it can’t mon­i­tor the con­tent with­in the app your child is restrict­ed to. Learn about what kinds of kids con­tent, kids videos in par­tic­u­lar, are best for your child in What Kids Videos Are Right for My Child. You can also learn more about set­ting bound­aries and time lim­its for your child’s screen usage in How to Cre­ate Your Family’s Screen Plan.

Please feel free to reach out to us on Twit­ter and Face­book with any ques­tions about Jel­lies or set­ting up Guid­ed Access. Click here to down­load the Jel­lies app.