Child-proofing your iPad/iPad mini/iPhone

Child-proofing your iPad/iPad mini/iPhone

Summary: We tech types put elaborate systems in place to prevent hackers from infiltrating out digital kingdoms, but we give little thought — or preparation — to what an innocent-looking toddler can do to our iPads, and the software and data they hold.

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TOPICS: iPad, Apple, iOS, iPhone
12

Put the iPad into "single app mode"

iOS 6 introduced a new feature called Guided Access that allows the iPad to be locked into a "single app mode". Problem is, like most other things in iOS, this is buried in the Settings app.

You can find Guided Access in Settings > General > Accessibility > Guided Access.

Enable Guided Access and set a passcode, which can be different from the PIN code you use to access your iPad.

(Image: Screenshot by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet)

To enable Guided Access, fire up the app you want to lock into single app mode and then triple press the Home button. This will allow you to lock the iPad's user to this single app.

(Image: Screenshot by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet)

To exit Guided Access, triple press the Home button, and enter the PIN code you set earlier.

Locked-down browser

If you want to allow a child to browse the web using an iPad, then it is a good idea to make a browser available that keeps them focused.

A good app for the job is Sandbox Web Browser, which limits browsing to a predefined whitelist.

You can prevent a sneaky kid from switching browsers by either using the iOS restrictions to hide other browsers, or Guided Access to lock the iPad into a single app mode.

(Image: Float Mobile Learning)

The Sandbox Web Browser app is free for a limited period; it previously retailed for $2.99.

Topics: iPad, Apple, iOS, iPhone

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12 comments
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  • A user account system would be a much better solution

    I guess this guide is better than nothing, but it is a clumsy design for an obvious issue. Most people are not going to deal with digging through settings anytime a child wants to play with their ipad or worse leave those settings on all the time.

    I just don't understand why there isn't a bigger focus in iOS or Android to support multiple user accounts. One of the best features I've encountered in Windows8 is the ability to create accounts for children with the restrictions and monitoring it offers. Something similar for mobile devices is overdue.
    Emacho
    • Good point

      Even the new Blackberry has separate modes for business and personal.
      happyharry_z
      • Blackberry has one thing going for it

        No kid would touch one.
        ssaha
    • Agree that it is better than nothing... kinda

      Most "robust" cases are too pricey to make to make it worth while. Pay $80 bucks to protect a $25 glass digitizer? I'll find a $10 case on eBay and teach my kids that they can't walk all over the house with it thank you.
      In terms of protection on the software level, Android has had launcher replacements for at least a couple years (IE: Kid Launcher). When you hand the device to your kid just switch to that launcher and they only get access to you pre-configured child approved apps.
      budderduck@...
    • Android 4.1 has separate accounts

      ...at least my Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7" does.
      radleym
  • Hey! I have a novel suggestion.

    How about just not letting the little nippers play with your devices? Hmmm?

    Try being a RESPONSIBLE parent first.
    IT_Fella
  • There's one problem with your suggestions, Adrian

    None of them would prevent your child from using your iPad as a toboggan.

    However, I have a simple solution: don't put it into their hands when you're not around to catch it. I've had a 3rd gen iPad for more than 8 months now, and my two-year-old has gotten expert at using it, for watching videos, looking at pictures, playing games, doing FaceTime with his grandparents, even taking the occasional set of photographs. He has even thrown it onto the (carpeted) floor. But I have always given it to him in situations where he could not do much physical damage to it if he dropped it, and I've always been logged out of any apps that might contain information that I didn't want damaged.
    But the most trouble I've had happened only recently, when I purchased a case with a flip cover. My kid spends more time playing with the flip cover than the tablet, and I've had to take it out to feel safe about it.

    The ultimate solution? Smart parenting.
    ssaha
    • That works for an 8 month old

      but what happens when they are age 2, 5, 8, 10, 12, 15....


      At some point they are going to need to learn about independence and want to do things on their own. This is were ADK suggestions might come in handy, even if they are lacking or cumbersome to enact.
      Emacho
      • Ummm...

        The iPad is 8 months old. His child is 2.

        A friend of mine has a 3 year old and a 1 year old - they use guides access all the time with the 3 year old and the first time she misbehaves that's it, no iPad for the rest of the day/weekend. She learned very quickly to accept what she was allowed and not to complain about what she wasn't.
        Ben_E
  • What you can do

    You omitted easiest solution, trade it in for a Windows 8 tablet and you dont have to worry about what your child can do with your data or over spending your credit card .
    Also by trading it in, it gives you the chance to do more with your tablet and if you are worried about your apps, then get an Iphone that you can synch with your Windows 8 tablet.

    The combination (in termers of Apps) is awesome, Iphone + Windows 8 tablet.
    Philip Taylor
  • iPad-enabled Kids

    My son has had an iPad since he was 1 (my old 1st gen.) He has always had a hard protective case from fisher-price (about $25) and he loves it. (I've even written an app or two that he uses!) He's 2.5 now and it is still helping him grow and explore intellectually.

    For those who think he's spoiled because of this -- well, it's an edge I can give him because of my tech life and career. I can't give him an edge in high finance or wielding societal influence, because those are fields I don't know about. I know tech -- and it's my job as a parent to give him any edge I can. (My 6 month old daughter is already eyeing his iPad, and I can't wait to watch her conquer technology.)

    Nothing replaces good parenting. Access to technology is just another tool to be used wisely, such as books, toys, education, etc.
    vineel@...
  • iPad has one thing going for it.

    It will survive a toddler better than any other computer/tablet that has been/is around. my 5yo boy with Down Syndrome has benefited greatly from playing with his iPad, yes his, i bought it for him. it took him months to understand that the iPad is not meant to be thrown around - down flights of stairs, across the rooms etc, or have water spilled over it. the iPad has survived. Barely, but survived and he is still using it. I'm convinced nothing else would have survived. Too bad I can't post photos of it here...
    lskong