Kids are tech-savvy. They learn all the tricks quickly and can use those tricks to get into things they shouldn’t access when you give them your phone.
When they have access to your phone, they could:
- Make purchases
- Mess up your apps by altering or deleting data
- See your private messages and information
- Be at risk from online predators
- See adult content
- Install damaging apps
So before you hand over your phone to a child, whether they are a toddler or a pre-teen, there are some steps you can take to make sure they only access what you permit them to see.
Lock Your Phone
The first step to take to keep kids safe is to keep them from accessing your phone without your knowledge. Use a PIN or password to lock your device so that your kids can’t access it. If your kids are a little older, you may want to change the PIN regularly so they can’t figure it out.
Setup Parental Controls on Google Play Store
To prevent your kids from making unauthorized purchases in the Play store, you should set up parental controls so they can’t make purchases without your permission.
Open the Play Store app and tap on the three-horizontal-lines icon on the top left. Swipe down and tap on “Settings.”
Swipe down once more until you see the “Parental Controls” option and tap on it. Toggle it on in the upper-right corner, and you’ll need to create a pin.
Once you’re in, you can restrict music that is marked explicit, and by tapping on Apps and games, you can choose the ratings the apps must have. In Settings, right under Parental controls, you’ll also see an option to require authentication for Google Play.
Use a Touch Lock App
If you want to give your phone to a toddler or younger child, you can use an app to keep them from leaving a window that you have provided for them, such as a video.
One app that works for that is Touch Lock – Touch Screen Locker for Video Players.
To use it, download the app from the Play store. When you open it, the app will ask you to create a pattern to unlock the app.
After setting the pattern, go to YouTube or another video platform and choose a video to watch. To lock the screen, pull down the notification bar and tap the notification “Touch Lock Tap to lock screen.”
A red lock icon will appear on the screen. It becomes translucent and doesn’t take up too much room. When you are ready to unlock, tap the lock icon twice, then enter your lock pattern to use the phone normally.
Use a Kids Home App
Older kids won’t be satisfied to be stuck on only one screen. A solution to keep these kids happy and safe is to use a launcher designed for kids that they can only exit with your input.
If you have a Samsung phone running at least Android Pie, you should have easy access to the Kids’ Home setting. This setting allows you to set up apps and browsing options for a child to access.
To get it,
1. Swipe down from the top of the screen to access the Quick Settings panel.
2. Tap the Kids’ Home button.
3. Enter a Kids Home Pin (the default pin is 0000). My phone just used my biometrics to give me access.
4. The Kids Home PIN allows you to set parental controls. Best of all, kids cannot exit Kids Home without it. If your phone uses biometrics, it’s even better because the kids can’t just find out the password to gain access. You would physically have to look at the phone.
For more information on how to set up the Kids Home on a Samsung, visit Kids Home Feature on your Galaxy.
On other Android phones, try an app like Kids Place – Parental Control
These will create a safe place where your kids can launch apps that you have approved ahead of time.
Lock Your Apps
If there are certain apps, images, or files that you don’t want your child to have access to, you can lock these in a secure folder. On a Galaxy phone, pull down the notification bar, find the icon for Secure folder, and set it up. You can move apps to this section of your phone that requires another layer of security to enter. You can put apps in there and delete them in your regular app drawer.
For other Android phones, try an app like AppLock to enable a similar feature and keep your private apps and data out of the hands of your kids and anyone else who may use your phone.
In many ways, it may be easier to set up a separate phone for your child than to make your phone childproof. However, as I stated earlier, kids are very savvy with technology. They may be able to subvert your attempts to control their phones. As a former elementary teacher, I would recommend restricting them to your phone with supervision until at least until age 12. This restriction will make it easier for you to protect them from unwanted content or dangerous people lurking on the Internet.