Simple Steps for Setting Up Kid-Friendly Mobile Devices
Smartphones and tablets can open up new worlds for your kids, but there are certain things mobile devices provide access to that are inappropriate for children. You know what’s out there, and like any good parent, it freaks you out a little.
You want your child to have the freedom to use their device without watching over them like a hawk. Thankfully, a few simple steps and helpful tools allow you to keep the content suitable and keep them safe during screen time.
Here’s what you need to know to make your family’s iOS and Android devices kid-friendly.
Setting Up Kid-Friendly Apple Devices
If you’re an Apple fan family, your kids probably love iPhones and iPads as much as you do. Apple provides some helpful parental controls. So, take a few minutes to go through the settings.
1. Create an iCloud Account for Your Child
For kids under 13, you’ll need to set up accounts through Apple’s Family Sharing feature. This cloud storage plan allows you to manage family purchases and approve spending using the Ask to Buy feature.
Once you have Family Sharing set up, you can create an account for your child from your device. Go to Family Sharing > Add Family Member > Create an Apple ID for a Child. The folks at MacWorld say even if your kids are young, creating an Apple ID now will save you time later.
“While it may seem a little soon to, say, create an Apple ID for a toddler, take it from me: it won’t be long before your onesie-clad cutie is walking, talking and pleading for an iPhone upgrade—and when that happens, it’ll be easier to migrate her data and apps if she already has her own iCloud account.”
If your child is using a hand-me-down device, you should wipe it clean and return it to its factory settings to remove any personal data or files. To do this, go to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings.
2. Enable Restrictions
Setting up restrictions on your child’s iOS device helps protect privacy and keeps kids away from explicit content. Follow these steps to access parental controls on iPads and iPhones and begin setting up a device that’s appropriate for your child.
- Open Settings app
- Tap “General”
- Select Restrictions and tap “Enable”
- Set your password
You’ll want to keep that password a secret from your kids so the settings can’t be edited.
3. Customize Restrictions and Privacy
Apple’s parental controls let you restrict or allow access to certain types of content. Under “Restrictions” you can turn installed apps on and off depending on what you want your child to be able to use. In the “Allowed Content” section, you can prevent the playback of music, movies, TV shows, and other media with content you deem unsuitable.
For web browsing, you can set boundaries in the Safari browser by limiting access to adult content or only allowing access to a list of approved websites.
Apple enables you to manage how much your child can communicate on apps like FaceTime using their iOS device as well. Disable social apps you don’t want them using, turn off the microphone, or stop location services.
Learn more about parental controls for iOS devices from Apple Support.
Setting Up Kid-Friendly Android Devices
For families with devices on the Android mobile operating system, Google has made it fairly easy to create accounts for children under the age of 13. Google claims this entire process will take about 30 minutes.
1. Get the Family Link App
Family Link is compatible with devices running Android Nougat 7.0 or higher. You’ll need at least two devices, one for the parent and another for the child. The device your child uses will either need to be new or wiped clean (factory reset) for a fresh start. Conveniently, parents can use Family Link with an iOS device, but for now, the device your child is using must be running Android.
2. Create Your Child’s Account
Open Family Link and click the icon to create a new account, and then follow the onscreen prompts. You’ll need to enter a credit card number, and Google will charge you 30 cents to confirm your identity. Then, you’ll fill out some basic information about the child who’ll be using the account before creating a username.
Before you get things set up on your child’s device, you’ll need to place your phone next to the phone or tablet they’ll be using so that the two devices are paired. Use the Google Account you created for your child with Family Link to log in on their device.
3. Customizing Settings
There are a variety of settings and controls available with Family Link:
- Filter Google search results and web content with Safe Search
- Limit website access within Chrome
- Approve or block apps from the Google Play store
- Restrict downloads and purchases from your child’s device
- Restrict movies and TV to certain ratings
- Require parental permission to download new apps
- Set a device “bedtime”
- Monitor Locations
Any time you want to adjust permissions and settings for your child, simply select “Manage Settings” at the top of the Family Link app on your device.
A Family Link account for users under 13 includes YouTube Kids, which is a filtered, ad-free version of the popular video sharing app that should only deliver content Google has deemed suitable for that age group. Family Link also allows you to keep standard YouTube and Chrome off your child’s device completely, which isn’t as easy to do with a normal Android installation.
Learn more about Family Link in an FAQ from Google.
Using Kid Mode and Amazon Free Time on Your Device
Plenty of parents don’t give younger kids their own devices, but they do hand over their own phones for little ones to use now and then. For those situations, there is Kid Mode from Zoodles®, which includes free, educational games and videos for kids. Kid Mode may already be on your phone, but you can also get free or premium versions for iOS and Android.
If your kids use Kindle Fire tablets, Amazon offers subscriptions to the useful Free Time app which comes with its own parental controls and kid-friendly content. Find out more about how to set up Free Time.
Making Screen Time a Family Affair with TechDen™
While following these steps may not provide a 100% guarantee of acceptable content, safety, and security, it should give you some peace of mind. Still, you shouldn’t rely on technology to do all the parenting for you.
It’s also important to have honest discussions with children about developing healthy habits with their digital devices. In addition to what they’re viewing on smartphones and tablets, the amount of time spent in front of those screens is another conversation families need to have.
TechDen is a unique solution that gets children and parents involved in creating boundaries around digital device usage. By combining a helpful mobile screen time app with innovative storage and charging products, TechDen encourages balance and accountability.
While an option like Family Link has settings that force a child’s device to shut down, TechDen delivers friendly reminders when it’s time to put the phone or tablet down. Family members can place their device in the storage unit and get it back at a previously agreed upon time. A system like this shows respect and builds trust rather than causing conflicts.
TechDen brings an end to device time disputes in your home while helping you create more meaningful family time. Find out more about How It Works!