If you’ve got kids and an Android phone or tablet, you know too well that sometimes they are going to want to have a play or learn with some toddler apps. On occasion, you might also want to hand over the Android device to your child as a distraction: You might be stuck in a waiting room, on public transport, or just wanting them to be quiet for a few minutes while you use the phone.
However, it’s a bit worrying to entrust such as device to a child – and that’s not even considering the cost of the device. In order to ensure your data and wallet are protected from what your child might do while it’s in their hands, you need to set things up correctly from the start. Even without a malicious thought, a child on an unprotected Android device can quickly spend money, browse unsavoury websites, delete things and generally create a headache for you. Here’s what you can do to child proof your Android phone.
A Variety Of Phone-Locking Options And Tools
There are loads of great apps that will help you to child-proof your Android phone (and we’ll look at these in a minute), but there are also a lot of other things you can do to protect your phone from the random, or not-so-random, button pressing of a child. You’ll probably want to use a few of these methods together.
Lock Your Screen
The first thing you need to do is be sure your kid can’t get into your phone when you leave it lying around. Go to Settings > Security > Screen Lock and choose a PIN, pattern or password lock for your screen.
Create A New User Profile
Android 4.2 Jelly Bean users can create new user profiles. As for your regular computer, ideally you would set up a new user account for your child in order to protect your data, and to restrict purchasing power.
Password-Protect Google Play
In order to ensure you aren’t charged for apps, movies and books your child wants or mistakenly buys, you should password-protect access to the Google Play store. To protect yourself, you can go through the settings in the Google Play app. Check the box next to the “Password” option in order to use a password to restrict purchases.
Using an app like Settings Profile Lite [No Longer Available], you can choose to lock the sound, data connection and notifications for a user.
Lock Apps With Blacklist
You can use an app like App Lock to individually lock people out of certain apps unless they have the pin, essentially creating a blacklist of apps you don’t want your child touching.
Use A Child-Locked App
With toddlers, it’s possible to let them use just one app, which is locked so they can’t get out to the rest of your phone. Apps like Toddler Lock are great for this. This approach won’t work so well for older kids as they might know how to circumnavigate the lock (for instance, via the notification bar). Little kids will still need to be watched as they could accidentally get out of the app.
Child-Locked Whitelist Of Apps
For children who need a bit more stimulation and choice, it’s possible to use a locked app which creates a child-locked sandbox of the best apps for kids specifically whitelisted by the parent. Most of these are in the form of a launcher app, such as Play Safe, Kid Mode, Famigo, and Kids Place (links follow). This stops the kids from being able to use the rest of the apps on the machine and usually locks them into the app with a PIN. When they press the home button, it will redirect them back to the app. Often calls are blocked while the app is in use.
Using the right app, you can set limitations on your child’s browser usage. You can either blacklist or whitelist the websites allowed via the browser. Set-up is usually via an online parental account and can be adjusted according to your needs.
A Selection of Apps
Following is a quick look at a great selection of apps you can try in order to child-proof your Android. They all have strengths and weaknesses, so choose a combination that’s right for your child’s age and needs.
Toddler Lock is a great little app designed to keep a small child entertained and locked into the one app. Any child who can read will be able to see instructions for getting out of the app (and will not be too interested in the app itself).
Child Lock Lite [No Longer Available]
Child Lock Lite is a launcher sandbox for kids. The lite version is limited to four apps only, though.
Play Safe is a sandbox launcher app for kids, where parents can set a whitelist of apps for their kids to use. The Play Safe launcher option is a great way to keep younger kids from getting into mischief, but older kids will probably find a way around it.
Famigo [No Longer Available]
Famigo is a sandbox which automatically filters your apps to show only the ones which they have deemed appropriate for kids, automatically updating when you add more apps. This means it’s really quick to get set up. Kids can put apps on the wishlist for you to approve later, which is a neat idea. Famigo is free for a 7 day trial, then $4.99 to purchase.
The Zoodles.com website, which we’ve covered before. It includes a few educational apps, recommended child-friendly videos, video messaging to relatives, and other age-appropriate fun from within the locked sandbox. You’ll need to create an account if you want to customise the content for your child, and you will need to be running Adobe Flash for some of the games to work. It is a great choice for a fuss-free setup as you don’t have to think about which apps are appropriate for your kids.app is connected to the
Kids Shell is another neat child-proof sandbox app, with limited features in the free version. It’s worth a look as it’s simple and all that you need.
Kids World is a beautiful child-safe sandbox with a few unique features. Parents can set a time limit, after which the app shuts down and locks the screen. Parents can also choose to give the kids access to a playlist of YouTube videos or videos on your phone.
The Kids Place app is a call-blocking launcher app for whitelisting kids apps. You can also choose to restart apps if a kid accidentally exists. The app is locked with a PIN, which can be sent to your email if forgotten.
The App Lock app lets you set a blacklist of apps on your phone, all of which will require a pin to use. This is a fantastic way to keep older kids (and anyone else up to mischief) from accessing certain apps, like a regular browser, your email, your calendar and contacts.
Settings Profile Lite
Parents can manually or automatically activate Settings Profile Lite in order to set rules for various Android settings. These include notifications, volume, Wi-Fi, 3G, call blocking, auto-syncing and all sorts of other things you might like to turn off or limit when a child has your device.
The Child-Proof Phone In Action
My toddler is completely unable to get around any of the child-proofing deliberately, which is great. An older child may find it easy to get around some of these methods though, hence the reason it’s a good idea to use multiple locking tools and PINs. Often a child can accidentally get around these child locks too, usually via the notifications bar.