Kids and iPads are a natural combination. Kids gravitate toward the easy-to-use, intuitive devices anytime they can, and it’s obvious why. The good news is that a plethora of educational apps and creative programs can give your child brainfood even when they’re being babysat by your device.
You can buy a sturdy case for whatever model of iPad you have, and an iPad mini in a shock-proof iPad mini case even is not likely to break even if your child drops it from the couch. But that’s not the only kind of child-safe there is. If your child has a choice between tangrams and Youtube kids, what will he choose? Is your child mature enough to avoid clicking on inappropriate advertisements, and can you be sure they won’t rack up huge phone bills for long distance phone calls to random strangers?
The good news is: they don’t need to have that maturity yet; it’s something they’ll grow into. And in the meantime, there are parental controls that can turn your iPad into something safe for a child of any age. You wouldn’t hand your child a loaded gun, and you wouldn’t give your child unlimited access to an unguarded iPad. But an iPad with child-appropriate settings can be a very good thing for your little one, and is as important for protection as that best iPad mini 6 case you just splurged on.
Here’s what you need to know about parental control on the iPad.
Browse the app store, and you’ll see a plethora of parental control apps that work on the iPad. Most are subscription based, and they’ll allow you to view your child’s activity from your own phone or browser.
One of the most popular is the app OurPact, which works with Android as well as iOS phones and tablets. The apps features include an app blocker, app rules, and alerts whenever your child downloads a new app. There’s also geofencing capabilities, a way to set up schedules and a porn blocker.
Other great options include Kaspersky, Norton Family, and Qustodio. These are all paid apps, but most have either a free tier or a free trial so you can try out the service before you commit.
Parental control apps are great. But what is even better are your iPad’s own parental control settings; settings that allow you to customize your child’s iPad experience and turn it into a positive, child-friendly one.
Apple’s native parental controls, AKA screen time, are built into the iOS— you won’t have to download anything extra. All you’ll have to do is visit Screen time in your settings and decide how you want the iPad to be used.
Here’s how you do it.
Below these, you’ll also see the option to Set a Screen Time password— a necessity if you’d like your settings to be tamper-proof.
Screen time isn’t the only native iOS tool that helps you make your iPad child-safe and child-friendly. Guided access is another option, and is especially useful if you’d like to hand your child your iPad and expect them to stick with one app— a math program, maybe, or handwriting practice session. It temporarily turns your iPad into a one-app machine, and no one can switch to another application without a designated password.
If you think you might want to use guided access, turn it on in your settings. To do this:
Turn on Guided Access, then use the settings below to choose a password, set time limits optional) and decide what accessibility shortcut you’d like to use to toggle guided access on and off.
What you did just there was only the setup. Now, if you actually want to give your child the iPad with ABC mouse on it and have them do that, use your accessibility shortcut to begin your session. Click “start session”.
Alternately, you can also ask Siri to ‘turn on Guided Access’ when you’re in the app you’d like to be limited to.
When your child hands the iPad back to you, you’ll be able to end the session by double clicking the top button and unlocking with Face ID or touch ID, whichever you have enabled. You can also triple-click the top button and enter the Guided Access passcode you set up earlier.
Once you’ve mastered Screen Time and Guided Access, you’ll have everything you need to make you iPad a safe place for your child. Add a child-protection app if you’d like to monitor from another device, and make sure you’ve got a great iPad mini 6 cover— or whichever case is appropriate— if you want to protect against shattered screens, dings and dents. You’ve just turned your iPad into a child-safe device, and given yourself that much more peace of mind.