Keeping Kids Safe on Tablets

Some lucky children might unwrap a tablet computer on Christmas morning. Although there are toy-style tablets made specifically for children, by Leap, V-Tech and other toy makers, many children will be using one of the more grown up devices such as iPads, Samsung Tabs etc – or they might frequently be pinching Mum or Dad’s! As a result, parental controls are a subject I often get asked about. How can I stop my kid spending £100 on Candy Crush Saga lives, or seeing things I don’t want them seeing online? As always with discussion about tablets,the answer depends on which tablet you have – Apple or Android.Children on tablet

Apple have built-in parental controls, called Restrictions. These are found under Settings, and the General option. Restrictions allow you to block or limit access to various apps, restrict access to websites, stop changes being made to privacy settings and importantly, turn off in-app purchases. You can also restrict access to apps and content on the iTunes store, which is rated by age (4+, 9+, 12+ and 17+). The iPad will ask you for a 4 digit PIN to enable Restrictions, but if you forget it, you will need to factory reset the iPad. Another option is to use Guided Access to temporarily let a child access the iPad. This locks the iPad to use one app – so you open the app or game your child wants and turn on Guided Access to prevent access to anything else. You then need to enter your PIN to restore normal use. This is found under Settings > General > Accessibility.

With Android tablets, Android system version 4.3 and above lets you set up profiles for each member of the family, with defined access. The Kindle Fire tablet has built in parental controls (found under Quick Settings and then the More option) but most Android tablets do not. The Google Play store does have an option to filter apps and require a PIN for purchases, but this only works for apps, not films, books etc. I would always recommend installing a parental control application on the tablet as well.

There are many apps available, which can restrict the websites your children can access, the amount of time they spend on the device, monitor what they are doing, or alert you to potential cyber-bullying, to list a few examples. Some of the best apps available are:

  • MobileMinder (paid app) This gives you a free trial before you buy, and has extensive parental controls to restrict and monitor.
  • Kids Place (free app) This will only allow the child to run apps that are added to Kids Place, and is good for tablets that are shared between the family.
  • Care4Teen (basic version is free, pro version is paid but has a free trial) As the name suggests, this app is more suitable for older children, and restricts both apps and web browsing access.

If you need assistance with setting up parental controls, or with any technical problems at home or work,
please contact [email protected] or ring 01531 888256.