Parent's Guide to Kid-Proofing Your iPhone or iPad

As par­ents, we know the impor­tance of prepar­ing for every dis­as­ter, no mat­ter how unlike­ly. That’s why it’s crit­i­cal to take cer­tain mea­sures before hand­ing your expen­sive iPhone or iPad into eager, lit­tle hands. Not only do you need to pro­tect your child from stum­bling across inap­pro­pri­ate con­tent in apps, you need to make sure your device sur­vives your child. Here’s a look at the best ways to pro­tect your child (and your device) using built-in iOS fea­tures and some stur­dy equipment.

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How to Keep Your Child From Leaving an App

Say there’s an app your child real­ly loves. It’s fun and edu­ca­tion­al, so you love it too! Prob­lem is, it’s one of many apps on your iPhone or iPad, all of which you don’t want your child exper­i­ment­ing with. How do you allow your child to play with their favorite app with­out wor­ry­ing that they’ll stum­ble out of it and into some­thing they shouldn’t?

Thank­ful­ly there’s a built-in fea­ture on all iPhones and iPads that solves this prob­lem. It’s called Guid­ed Access, and it locks your child into an app of your choos­ing (and out of the inter­net, Ama­zon, or any apps that man­age your bank account, for exam­ple). Fol­low these steps to set up Guid­ed Access on your iPhone or iPad:

Pre­fer to see Guid­ed Access in action? Watch our video tuto­r­i­al.

  • Step 1: Locate the Set­tings icon in your iPhone or iPad. 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.

There are many oth­er things you can do to safe­guard your child with Guid­ed Access. Con­trol what your child can do in the app by lock­ing the vol­ume con­trols, turn­ing off the key­board, even make cer­tain areas of the app off-lim­its. Guid­ed Access also pro­vides a timer fea­ture for par­ents who want to lim­it their child’s screen time. Learn about all these Guid­ed Access fea­tures for par­ents in How to Lock Your Child Into an App.

Screen Time With iOS 12

What about when you want your child to access mul­ti­ple kid-friend­ly apps with­out buy­ing half the App Store or stum­bling into any­thing scary?

Apple added an even more pow­er­ful fea­ture for par­ents with iOS 12. Called Screen Time, it gives par­ents access to a bunch of parental con­trols, from cre­at­ing dai­ly time lim­its for cer­tain types of apps to pre­vent­ing your child from buy­ing things from the App Store. It also pro­vides data about your child’s screen time activ­i­ty so you can step in before poten­tial prob­lems arise.

To use Screen Time effec­tive­ly, you need to get famil­iar with three key features:

  • Down­time: This allows you to block off cer­tain times of the day when you don’t want your child inter­act­ing with their iPhone or iPad. We rec­om­mend doing this for din­ner­time and bedtime.
  • App Lim­its: With this fea­ture you can lim­it the amount of time your child spends on cer­tain types of apps. For exam­ple, you could lim­it gam­ing apps to only an hour a day while mak­ing edu­ca­tion­al apps acces­si­ble for much longer.
  • Con­tent & Pri­va­cy Restric­tions: These fea­tures let you dive into your child’s screen expe­ri­ence. You can block your child from installing new apps or delet­ing exist­ing apps from your device, set con­tent rat­ings, and even set a vol­ume lim­it so your child can’t crank the sound up all the way. There’s a lot more to con­trol here, so take your time when you go through the options.

Screen Time can be a lit­tle con­fus­ing to set up, so check out our video tuto­r­i­al and writ­ten guide on get­ting start­ed with parental con­trols on iOS 12 for help.

Protect Your Devices With Cases and Screen Protectors

What’s installed on your device isn’t the only cause for con­cern. You’ll want to make sure to pro­tect your iPhone or iPad with a screen pro­tec­tor and a durable case before hand­ing it off to your child. 

The durable case is a must as it encas­es the entire device in a pro­tec­tive shell and lim­its the amount of dam­age done if your child drops or throws the device. A screen pro­tec­tor serves as an added lay­er of pro­tec­tion against rough han­dling. While your device’s screen is already scratch-resis­tant to a degree, the screen pro­tec­tor might pre­vent you from need­ing to pay for a cost­ly screen replacement.

For pro­tec­tive cases:

  • Go for bulky, heavy-duty cas­es. It’s a near cer­tain­ty that the device will slip out of your child’s hands at least once, so don’t be tempt­ed by thin­ner, sleek­er versions.
  • Make sure the case extends up in the front in case your child drops the device direct­ly onto it’s screen.
  • Pur­chase a case that’s made for your type of iPhone or iPad. If you buy a case for an ear­li­er ver­sion, for exam­ple, you may find that it the holes for the charg­ing ports don’t line up.

For screen protectors:

  • Plas­tic film is cheap­er but offers less pro­tec­tion. It only pro­tects against scratch­es. Depend­ing on the type of pro­tec­tive case you get, you may not need much more than that.
  • Tem­pered glass costs more, but isn’t about to break anyone’s bank. It’s stur­dier and pro­tects against scratch­es and falls. It also feels more like the actu­al screen on your device.
  • If you go the tem­pered glass route, look for pro­tec­tors with oleo­pho­bic coat­ing. This coat­ing allows you to use a micro-fibre cloth to clean away fingerprints. 

Don’t for­get to read reviews and shop around for the best price! Pro­tect­ing your device shouldn’t cost too much, though you may want to invest time in find­ing the right one for your family.

Final Thoughts

Set­ting up Guid­ed Access and Screen Time are great first steps to pro­tect­ing your fam­i­ly. Unfor­tu­nate­ly par­ents need to con­sid­er a lot more when it comes to ward­ing off all the dan­gers that come with chil­dren and tech­nol­o­gy. We reg­u­lar­ly post help­ful resources for par­ents on top­ics from choos­ing the right kids videos to decid­ing when it’s appro­pri­ate to post about your child on social media. Keep learn­ing about par­ent­ing in the tech age on the Jel­lies blog.

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