So the question has been put to us: “how can we child proof our phones?”

Are you wanting to control:

  • Accidental phone calls?
  • Internet access?
  • App purchases?
  • Downloads?

There are a range of options, depending on your type of device. Below I will outline the basic options for Apple iPhone/iPad, Android and Windows Phone.

Apple iPhone/iPad

The Apple devices have some good options built in to the iOS software, but you may find it doesn’t cover everything you need. For instance, you can’t stop access to the phone app and accidental phone calls.

Using the “Restrictions” function, you can limit internet access, camera and FaceTime (video calling) use. There are also controls over access to iTunes, App downloads/deleting and in-app purchases, which are important in controlling the spend on an account. Additionally, you can set ratings limits on music and video content, so kids aren’t listening to or watching your more mature content on your devices i.e. movies with violence.

The new Family Sharing features in iOS8 also allow some other controls over purchases.

So, how do you setup Restrictions on Apple Devices?

Go to Settings -> General -> Restrictions.

You then enter a four-digit PIN to protect the settings. TIP: make this different to your normal passcode on the device, as kids might know this one or work it out.

The main disadvantage to this option is that you have to go the the effort of putting in the PIN each time to activate the Restrictions mode, and there are no home screen shortcuts to go through the menus to get there. Translated: it isn’t something you will necessarily do the let a child play with your phone for 5 minutes, due to the effort.

For a step by step guide, we made this video two years ago, of which not much has really changed:

Once Restrictions are activated, any blocked apps will just not show on the home screen or in relevant apps.

Android Phones/Tablets

Android’s big advantage is that you can customise your device in all sorts of ways with widgets and home screens, plus custom launchers that change the layout of the phone screens.

What most Android devices don’t offer though, are many inbuilt options, so the extras are certainly needed!

I have broken down a couple of options, based of your childs age.

Toddlers

Toddler Lock

Toddler Lock - screenshot thumbnail

“Child lock with colorful graphics and soothing sounds to keep your kids entertained without having to worry about them making calls or starting other apps. Teach your child shapes and colors. Optionally enables airplane mode while application is active, so as to not irradiate your little darling.

Also lots of fun for adults!”

Older Kids

Famigo: Kids’ Educational App

Famigo: Kids' Educational App - screenshot thumbnail

“Famigo brings kids apps, games, video and web-browsing together in one educational space with an optional child safety lock. Famigo curates educational content on your device so families never have to search for kid-friendly, age-appropriate educational games, apps and video again.”

Famigo has some paid subscription levels, from free to $5 per month.

All Ages

Vodafone global has a great app which offers many great functions similar to the Apple Restrictions, and a few more. The app is free, and offers controls for app usage, as well as blocking certain numbers and limiting calls and SMS to reasonable hours of the day.

Here are a few screenshots:

The app can be downloaded here.

Windows Phone

I’m not really a fan of Window Phone, due to limitations in apps, but one of the things I do love about them, is the built-in Kid’s Corner function.

Kid’s Corner basically locks off a part of the phone for kids only, where they can access pre-defined apps, and nothing more! The only way to switch to normal function is by entering a PIN to get back to the home screen.

Only you can add items to Kid’s Corner, but children can open and use it on their own. They can also change the name, accent colour and background picture.

For a step-by-step and video guide, have a look at the official Windows Phone site.

So that’s a little summary for you.