How to set up parental controls on Android smartphones and tablets
If you frequently find your Android phone or tablet in the hands of your children, you may want to consider protecting your device (and your children) with parental control software. Find out how to set this up in our helpful guide.
Create a second user account for children
If you have an Android phone or tablet running Android 4.2 or above, your device has the ability to quickly switch between a number of different user accounts. This means you can set up one user account for yourself and another, safer one for your children to use!
You can then restrict a user account to block access to apps, games and features which might be inappropriate for your children. Let's find out how to create a second user account and exercise parental control over the way it works:
- Open your apps list and tap on the Settings icon.
- Scroll down the settings page until you find Users, then press on it. On some devices, you might need to tap on the General tab at the top of the screen first.
- Choose to add a new profile by tapping on the Add user button. You'll need to read the message which appears, then tap OK to confirm you'd still like to set up an account. The main thing to be aware of is that each user has their own environment to work in, so each user has an individual wallpaper picture, apps and Wi-Fi settings.
- After the user account is created, it needs setting up with security and other options. tap Set up now to continue adding a user account.
- You'll be logged out of your current user and be shown a welcome screen for the new user. This is very similar to the setup wizard you'll get when you first set up your smartphone.
- If you want this new user to have internet access, make sure to pick your Wi-Fi network from the list and enter your wireless password when prompted.
- After a couple of minutes your new user account will be ready to use! To switch between user accounts, drag your finger down from the top of the screen and tap on the Users button in the top-right corner of the notification panel.
- You'll see your main account (Owner) and any other accounts you've added. Tap on the user account you want to switch to, then wait a couple of seconds for the phone to log in and out again. If you have a lock screen set up on the account you're switching to, you'll have to enter the code before you can access the account.
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Parental controls for Android phones & tablets
There are many ways to set up parental controls for an Android phone. Some manufacturers like HTC and Samsung supply their own Kid Mode software to meet this need and some others don't. Next, we'll go over some of the basic settings you can change to help keep your phone and your children safe, using the tools which Android provides by default.
Restrict App Store and In-App Purchases
You can protect the Play Store with a password to prevent your children emptying your bank account on lots of paid-for apps and games. Set this up by following the short steps below.
- From your apps list, open the Play Store.
- Touch the menu button, which looks like three lines in the top-left corner of the Play Store (next to the search box).
- From the menu which appears, scroll down and press Settings from the bottom of the list.
- Find and tap on Require authentication for purchases.
- You can pick whether you are asked for your Google password every time you download from the Play Store, or to only ask you for a password every 30 minutes, which might make it a bit more comfortable to use.
Disable Third-Party Apps
It's worth noting at this point that apps can be downloaded from places other than the Play Store, so we need to make sure that this particular option is disabled:
- Open your apps list and press on Settings.
- Scroll down the page and touch Security. On some smartphones you will need to tap on the More heading first, to view your security settings.
- Make sure the option to allow installation of apps from unknown sources is turned off. This is usually off by default, so just make sure that the box is unticked.
You can filter the Play Store to only show apps that are appropriate for children, and the process is very easy to follow:
- Firstly, head back into the Play Store app and press the menu button, which looks like.
- Choose Settings.
- Scroll down to the User controls heading and press Parental controls.
- Enter a PIN to protect your changes from being undone. You'll have to confirm it to make sure you know what it is!
- Make sure the parental controls are turned on, then tap on a category to set the appropriate age rating.
- Each category is set individually, meaning you could allow a higher age rating for TV than for games or movies. Tap on each one you'd like to restrict and choose an age rating. Press the Home button when you're finished configuring.
By now, your Android device should be thoroughly protected – but if you're having any trouble, drop us a line below and we'll do our best to answer your questions!
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