Keeping Your iPad and iPhone Kid-friendly

If you're like most, you use your iPhone and iPad for work and play for yourself, but you also let others use the devices for their own pleasure and satisfaction. Specifically, young children. These devices are great for getting work done, and equally as great for playing games. The problem is, it's difficult for most children to stay within a single app on the device... they like to explore (and rightfully so). This usually results in mischievous behavior (changes in settings, deletion of apps and data, relocation of icons, etc).

When I point people to the "Accessibility" features of iOS 7 (Settings > General > Accessibility), they usually respond by reminding me that they don't suffer visual or audible challenges. Fortunately, neither do I, but I still love some of the enhancements that are available there. The one that I am specifically referring to for this post is "Guided Access".

Guided Access is a wonderful, incredible accessibility feature that allows you to set a passcode and lock down your iOS device. It's the next best thing to having multiple user accounts on the device (I personally hope that they offer that solution soon). With Guided Access, you can allow a child (or anyone else) to run an app on your iOS device, knowing that they can't do anything but use that app (and even some of the functionality within the app can be limit). This is because you can disable certain portions of the screen (easily defined by you) as well as the physical buttons on the device.

To enable Guided Access, go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Guided Access and enable the feature. Once the feature has been enabled, you will need to set a passcode. This passcode can be the same as your system passcode, or different. It's up to you.

Once you have enabled Guided Access and set a passcode, it's time to use the feature. Once you have opened an app for your child to play (but before you hand it to him or her to use), press the Home button 3 times. This will activate Guided Access and allow you to choose what features you want disabled (including defining areas of the screen you want to disallow the child to use).

When you're ready for your child to use the device, tap "Start" and hand it off. Now, your child can only use the app that is currently open. If they press a button that you have disabled (like the Home button, for example), iOS simply ignores the request.

When you're ready to retrieve the device and use it again for yourself, you can exit Guided Access mode by pressing the Home button 3 times again. After entering the passcode you set in Settings when you initially enabled Guided Access, you will be able to use the full functionality of the device again.

This is also a great feature for devices that have been designated as a kiosk device (meaning a device for conference attendees or company visitors to use). The concept is the same... you want to prevent a non-owner from doing things on the device that they ordinarily would have access to do.

This is a really, really great feature of iOS. I'm willing to bet that you've never heard of it before. You should give it a try and let us know what you think via the comments below.

Posted on March 20, 2014 and filed under How To, iOS, iPad, iPhone.