As an Internet device, your Android smartphone or tablet, like a home PC, gives access to all the things your kids don’t need to see or participate in. However, it is important that messaging, banking and many other applications are not only private but also vulnerable to attacks.
While you may not mind letting your little (and not least) kids play with your smartphone now and then, you don’t want them to install potentially harmful apps or inappropriate or launch existing applications and inadvertently change or delete important data.
In addition, Google’s Android comes with a number of features that make your device safe for children, including the ability to create and then set restrictions for secondary and guest user accounts. However, Samsung and several other phone manufacturers and mobile service providers have removed many users from their feature sets.
However, multiple users are available on Samsung’s Galaxy tablets (and most other tablets). Inconsistency across devices is an unfortunate drawback to Android’s powerful and flexible open source programming.
Therefore, when discussing how to make your Android device safe for children, we must consider two situations: using Android’s built-in features if they are available, or installing a friendly app. third-party child-friendly. The good news is that there are several of them, including Google’s own free Family Link App.
Regardless of which method you use, one surefire way to prevent your kids from using your device without your permission is to set up one of Android’s several screen lock options.
Lock access to your smartphone or tablet
Depending on your device, Android offers options to lock the screen with a regular password or PIN, as well as some biometric features, such as face recognition, iris recognition, and reading fingerprints. Many devices, such as my Note 9, allow you to use a combination of a regular key and a biometric lock.
Of course, all locking options are accessed through Android Setting control panel, with your PIN and password key usually underneath (depending on your device) Guard or Lock screen, and lower course biometrics Biometrics and Security (or some variation).
Of course, the type and level of security you need is up to you. However, on phones that support biometric scanning, your child’s chances of beating fingerprint, face, or iris scanning are slim.
Create multiple users on your Android
If your device supports multiple user profiles, this is an effective method to limit what your child can and cannot do. If multiple children use your device (or share their device), you can create and define profiles for each child. Here’s how to do it:
- Go Setting
- Scroll to and tap User
- Choose Add a user or profile
- In the next dialog window, tap Limited bio
Android displays a screen that lets you enable or disable access to nearly everything on the device, including Chrome and the Google Search app. By default, most options are disabled.
Go through the list and enable the content and apps you want to allow; note that some have a Settings gear icon next to it, which, by clicking it, allows you to tweak the content more deeply, through mostly age-based settings, as shown in the image under.
For example, video and TV apps allow you to restrict content using traditional ratings, such as PG or PG-13. Also, make sure you turn off Unrated content allowed.
You can also restrict each user from making calls or sending text messages and emails. Also, keep in mind that for each new app you install or something you download for kids in the future, you’ll need to come back here and allow access.
You can switch between users from the Notifications pull-down, like this:
- From the top of any Home screen, lock screen, and multiple app screens, swipe down with two fingers to reveal Quick Installation.
- Clap Switch users
- Tap another user. That user can now log in.
Set parental controls in Google Play
To make your device child-safe for older children, you can enable and define parental controls in the built-in Google Play Store. With these, you can restrict the types of apps, books, music, and movies available for download to your Android.
- Open Google Play Store.
- Tap the app menu icon (four horizontal lines) in the upper left corner of the app.
- Scroll to and tap Parental control
- Move Parental control Swipe right to enable this feature.
- In the next Content PIN dialog box, enter the four-digit number, press ALRIGHT, re-enter the PIN to confirm, then press ALRIGHT again.
- From Parental Controls “Set content restriction screen”, enter each section and set the content level allowed.
For example, in the Apps & games section, you have several options between “Everyone” (most restrictive) to “Allow all, including unrated” (least restrictive). You can of course turn off or change parental controls if needed, but only after entering a four-digit PIN, so don’t forget.
Additionally, these settings have nothing to do with apps and content loaded on your device before Parental Controls were enabled.
Third-party child-safe apps
As with most types of Android apps, there are a few that impose parental controls. One of the more comprehensive is Google Family Link, which allows you to control most aspects of your child’s Android access, including setting time limits. One limitation of Family Link is that it requires two devices, yours and your child’s.
Here are some more apps to install directly to your Android:
- Children’s Place- Parental Controls is a launcher that essentially turns Android into a kid-friendly environment where friend determines nearly all aspects of functionality and accessibility. As with all launchers, you can easily disable or enable another.
- Net Nanny filtered content, blocked porn, and put time limits on Windows machines for several years. However, it requires a limited User Profile, which is not supported by all Androids.
- Toddler lock Limit your child to a single app, period.
- App Lock provides extensive control over nearly all Android functions and content.