Parenting Stories and Tips

Never worry about kids hanging up your phone call again! Parental Control for iPads and iPhone

Did you know that iOS come with a built-in parental control feature that works with every single app? If you do you can skip this post…but if you don’t, then you are just like me! Until a friend told me about them of course.

I was beyond amazed at the fact that such a feature is hidden in the iOS menu. As Emilia get older and start to become more interested in what electronic devices has to offer, she will surely need to learn her limits when it comes to usage and time as well. Native Parental Feature makes managing the aspect so much easier rather than having to rely on individual app developers to build the feature into specific apps.

The other reason I found this feature so amazing is because of FaceTime – something we do rather often. Emilia and my parents would Facetime a few nights every week, and is something they all enjoy very much – until those curious fingers hit “hang up” since it’s bright red and totally asking to be pressed. Having the parental control feature prevents those accidental button presses while allowing Emilia to dab away at my mother’s face on the screen to her heart’s content.

So let’s talk about it, what is Parental Control on the iPhone or iPad? and How to use it?

What is Guided Access?

In iOS, the official name for Parental Control is “Guided Access”. It’s a feature hidden under the Accessibility section of the menu. It allows parents to:

  • keep the device in a specific app
  • disable touch on sections or the entire screen
  • disable sleep and volume button
  • disable motion triggered screen orientation changes
  • and finally, set a time limit on usage.

Each of these controls can be toggled on and off separately, giving a lot of freedom to the parent as to how exactly they would like their child to use the device.

Enable Guided Access

To use Guided Access, you need to first enable it in the setting of the device, it is off by default.

To do so go to Settings -> General -> Accessibility -> Guided Access (all the way at the very bottom)

Once the Guided Access option is toggled ON or green status, there are a few things you can adjust.

  • Passcode Settings allow you to set up the passcode used when unlocking or removing the guided access
  • Time Limits settings allow you to adjust if the phone will sound an alarm or not when the limited access time is up and whether you want the device to alert how much time is left using Siri
  • Accessibility Shortcut button, when toggled ON or green, allow you to quickly enable this feature by pressing Home or Side Button(iPhone X) 3 times
  • Mirror Display Auto-Lock toggle decides whether you want guided access to use your existing auto-lock setting or not. If it is OFF, then Guided Access will always turn off the screen after 20 minutes of inactivity

An additional way to set up the Guided Access button is through control center, you can enable a control center short cut from going into Settings -> Control Center -> Customize Controls -> Guided Access. This give you an additional way of turning the feature on.

Using Guided Access

Once Guided Access is turned on, navigate to the app you want to use with your child, this could be Facetime, Youtube, or any app on your phone or iPad for that matter. If you want them to stare at the Kindle app for an hour you could certainly do that too.

Once inside the app, hit Home or the Side button three times, or tap the Guided Access button from Control Center by swiping down from the top right corner. Then you will see Options on the bottom left of your screen, Cancel on the top left corner, and Start on the top right corner.

From here you can hit option to adjust a few things

  • Sleep/Wake Button: toggled ON to allow your child to turn off the screen by pressing sleep button. They can press the wake button again to wake the device back up without entering any password, but they will still be stuck in the same app. The timer is not paused when the screen is off; toggled OFF to prevent the sleep button from shutting off the screen.
  • Volume Buttons: toggled ON to allow your child to adjust the volume using the volume buttons; toggled OFF to prevent the volume buttons from doing anything when pressed.
  • Motion: toggled ON to allow motion based inputs, like shake to undo, or any kind of game that rely on motion; toggled OFF to prevent any motion from doing anything on the phone. Orientation change when the phone is held one way or another is NOT impacted by this setting!
  • Keyboards: toggled ON to prevent the keyboard from popping up, while this feature does work in chat apps, it for some reason does not work on Youtube, even when it is toggled ON, I am still able to type in search bars and type comments to videos; toggled OFF to allow keyboard use.
  • Touch: toggled ON, you can assign sections of the screen where touch will be disabled, and any kind of dabbing will do nothing in the area you designate. You do that by drawing a box on your screen and you will see a grey box appear. You can also not draw anything on the screen, which will leave the device functioning normally, and allow your child to navigate the app normally. Toggled OFF to disable touch for the entire screen.
  • Time Limit: toggled ON, you can then set a time limit as to how long the child can use the app for. An alarm tone will sound at the end, and reminders will be played throughout if they are enabled. Once the time is up, the whole screen will dim down and show a message of “Time Expired”. Toggled OFF to not set a time restriction on how long the child can use the device and the app for.
Boo Hoo Hoo Time is up!

Your phone or tablet will remember the different Guided Access settings for different apps, making it easier on you, so that you don’t have to reconfigure every single time.

And that is it! Did you find this useful? Is this confusing? I’m super happy that now when we FaceTime my mother, I can just lock up the device, and hand it to Emilia for her to chat to my mom with. Of course the device still need a strong smash proof case!

Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts!

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