As an internet device, your Android smartphone or tablet, like the family computer, provides access to all the things your kids don’t need to see or participate in. Messaging, banking and more are just as important. other applications that are not only private but also vulnerable.
While you might not mind your little ones (and not so little ones) playing with your smartphone from time to time, you don’t want them to install potentially dangerous or inappropriate applications or run existing ones and inadvertently modify or delete important data.
Google’s Android comes with several features that make your device safe for children, including the ability to create and subsequently set limits for additional and guest accounts. However, Samsung and several other phone makers and cellular service providers have moved away from multi-user functionality in their feature sets.
However, multiplayer capabilities are available on Samsung Galaxy tablets (and most others). Inconsistency across devices is an annoying drawback to powerful and versatile open source Android programming.
Therefore, when discussing how to make your Android device safe for kids, we have to consider two scenarios: using native Android functions where available, or installing a third-party app for kids. The good news is that there are several, including the free Google Family Link app
Regardless of which method you use, the surest way to keep a child from using your device without your permission is to set up one of several Android screen lock options.
Lock access to your smartphone or tablet
Depending on your device, Android provides standard password or PIN lock screen options, as well as several biometric features such as face recognition, iris recognition, and fingerprint reading. Many devices, like my Note 9, for example, allow a combination of biometric and lock locks.
All lock options are, of course, accessed through the Android Settings dashboard, with PIN and password lock usually located under (depending on your device) the Security Screen or Lock Screen, and biometric locks under Biometrics and Security (or some options).
The type and levels of security you need is of course up to you. However, on phones that support biometric scanning, the chances of your child winning when scanning a fingerprint, face, or iris are slim.
Create multiple users on your Android device
If your device supports multiple user profiles, this is an effective method of limiting what your child can and cannot do. If more than one child is using your device (or sharing their own), you can create and define a profile for each of them. Here’s how to do it:
- Open Settings.
- Scroll down and click Users.
- Select Add User or Profile.
- In the dialog box that opens, click Restricted Profile.
Android displays a screen that lets you enable or disable access to pretty much everything on the device, including Chrome and the Google Search app. Most options are disabled by default.
Go through the list and include the content and apps you want to allow; Note that some of them have a Settings gear icon that, when clicked, allows you to further customize the content, mainly through age-based settings, as shown in the image below.
For example, video and TV apps allow you to restrict content using traditional ratings such as, say, PG or PG-13. Also make sure you have disabled Allow Unrated Content.
You can also prevent each user from making calls or sending text messages and emails. Remember also that for every new app you install or content you download for kids in the future, you’ll need to go back here and allow access.
You can switch between users using the Notifications drop-down menu, for example:
- At the top of any home screen, lock screen, and many app screens, swipe down with two fingers to open quick settings.
- Click Change User.
- Click on another user. This user can now log in.
Set Google Play Parental Controls
To keep your device safe for older children, you can enable and define built-in parental controls in the Google Play Store. With their help, you can limit the types of apps, books, music and movies available for download on Android.
- Open the Google Play Store.
- Tap the application menu. icon (four horizontal lines) in the upper left corner of the application.
- Scroll and tap Parental Controls.
- Move the Parental Controls slider to the right to enable this feature.
- In the Content PIN dialog box that appears, enter a four-digit number, tap OK, enter the PIN again to confirm, and then tap OK again.
- In the Parental Controls section of the Set Content Restrictions Screen, enter each section and set the content allowed level.
For example, in the Apps & Games section, you have several options from “All” (most stringent) to “Allow everything, including unrated” (least stringent). You can of course turn off or change parental controls as needed, but only after entering your four-digit PIN, so don’t forget it.
Additionally, these settings do not apply to apps and content downloaded to your device prior to enabling parental controls.
Child-Safe third-party apps
As with most types of Android apps, there are several parental control apps. One of the more comprehensive is Google Family Link, which lets you control most aspects of your child’s Android access, including setting time limits. The downside to Family Link is that it requires two devices: yours and your child’s.
Here are some others that can be installed directly on Android:
- Kids Place – Parental Controls is a launcher that essentially turns Android into a kid-friendly environment where you em > handle almost every aspect of functionality and accessibility. As with all launchers, you can easily disable it or enable other launchers.
- Net Nanny has been filtering content, blocking porn, and setting deadlines on Windows machines for several years. However, this requires limited profile users that not all Android devices support.
- Toddler Lock restricts your child to one application, period.
- Applock provides extensive control over almost all Android features and content.