Till the time your kids become responsible enough to get their own smartphone, you will have to share your Android phone with them. However, your phone contains your personal data as well as certain apps that are not suitable for kids.
So as a responsible parent you can’t just hand over such a powerful device to your child and expect him to only watch his favorite YouTube channel. But what you can do is to make your Android device suitable enough for your kid’s usage.
By taking advantage of a few Android security features and getting help from third-party apps, I’ll show you how you can make your Android phone kids-friendly. Let’s take a look.
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Enable Security lock
A very basic measure, a password lock will help keep your phone out of your child’s hand when you are not looking. Most reliable options that are available on almost all the Android phone is a pattern lock or a password or if you prefer face detection or a similar unlock method, it should work fine as well.
To add a security lock:
- Go to Settings > Security.
- Tap Screen lock, the security lock options available for your phone.
I would recommend Pattern lock as it is easy to use and just as secure as password lock, but you can choose any security lock you prefer.
Make Google Play Store child-friendly
While using your phone your child can easily go to Google Play Store and download anything from a kids video game to an adults app or game. On top of that, your curious little one can make in-app purchases without you knowing. Here’s how to take control over apps and purchases in Google Play Store:
As a solution, you can restrict the types of apps that should be allowed to show on the store by turning on Parental controls in Google Play Store.
Here’s how to do it:
- Tap Main Menu at the top-left corner and go to Settings.
- Tap Parental controls.
- On the next page turn on the toggle button.
You will be asked to provide a 4 digit pin that will be used to make any changes in the parental control options. Make sure the pin is hard to guess and your kids don’t already know it.
Afterwards, you will see all the available Google Play Store products based on the availability in your country, such as apps and games, movies, and books, etc. Tap on each product and select the appropriate age restriction according to the age of your children.
To restrict unauthorized purchases:
- Tap "Require authentication for purchases".
- Make sure "For all purchases through Google Play on his device" option is selected.
With this option enabled, you will have to provide a password for your connected Google account whenever you want to purchase something.
Note: Do keep in mind that you will have to go through this setup process for each Google account that you are using on your phone.
Disable downloads from unknown sources
Google Play Store is not the only place where your kids can download apps and games. A simple search in the browser can also allow them to download APKs and install them. You can disable Unknown Sources in your phone settings to stop installation of apps and games from other sources besides Google Play Store.
To do so:
- Go to phone Settings > Security
- Scroll down and toggle off Unknown Sources option.
Do keep in mind that if your kids are smart enough, they can easily turn this feature back on and install any app they like. So you should keep an eye on this feature, or resort to more strict options that I’ll be mentioning at the end.
Get YouTube Kids
YouTube has been my biggest problem while making my phone child-friendly. My son loves the shows on YouTube, but YouTube gives me no reliable option to control what my son can see and many times recommend things that are inappropriate for him.
Thankfully, YouTube Kids solved this problem and gave me control over what my kids can see. It’s the official YouTube app by Google that is tailored to children viewing. You can simply tell it the age of the kid and it will only show channels that are appropriate for that age.
On top of that, all the settings are protected behind a password that only you will know. YouTube Kids hasn’t disappointed me yet, I have never noticed a single video that I find inappropriate for my son’s age.
Lock down sensitive apps
Instead of locking down the whole phone, you can lock down only the sensitive apps for your kids. A good app locker tool can do this for you in a jiffy, and I recommend AppLock for this purpose. You can use all of its features in the ad-supported version and it gives full control over locking apps.
The app lets lock down any system or third-party app installed on your phone. More importantly, it can also stop users from receiving calls, downloading apps from Google Play Store, and uninstalling any app. You can also hide the app from the app drawer and prevent others from uninstalling it.
You can use this app to hide apps like Gallery, Calling app, social media apps, or maybe your banking app. And your children can freely use the phone as they please.
Create a safe zone inside your phone
You can also create a safe zone for kids right inside your phone. I personally prefer this option as my son can do whatever he wants in his little entertainment corner and I won’t have to worry about him messing with my personal stuff.
For this purpose, I use the app Kids Place. As far as its basic function is concerned, you simply allow kids friendly apps in its interface and the child will not be able to move away from it.
The app will automatically re-launch if they back out using the "Home" button. Even if they restart the phone, Kids Place will automatically open up if it was running prior to restart. The only way to exit is to provide the password that only you will know.
Apart from this, it allows you to manage which apps can access the WiFi, block incoming calls, automatically restart the app if it closes (good for toddlers), and many other parental control tools. The only problem I ever faced with Kids Place is that it sometimes takes 1-3 seconds to get back into the app when the child presses the home button.
Use Screen pinning
In case your child only needs to use a single app, then you don’t have to go through all the above-mentioned hassle. If you have an Android 5.0 or above device, then you can use the built-in Screen pinning feature to pin a single app on the screen. This will allow you to let your children use a single app, and they won’t be able to exit out of it.
To enable Screen pinning:
- Go to Settings > Security.
- Scroll down and tap Screen pinning.
- Toggle "on" for Screen pinning on the next page.
- Select "Ask for unlock pattern before unpinning" option for added security.
To pin an app:
- Open it and press the Overview button. You will see a tiny Pin button next to your app.
- Tap on it, the app will be pinned.
- Press and hold the Back and Overview buttons simultaneously.
Even then, the phone screen will immediately close and you will have to enter the lock screen pattern to open the phone.
To sum it up
I believe creating a safe entertainment zone for your kids on your phone is the best way to protect your data and keep your children happy. Although Screen pinning is also a great option if your child just needs to access a single app, like your toddler who enjoys rhymes on YouTube.
If you know any other ways to make an Android phone kids-friendly, do let us know in the comments.