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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.


parental controls for android tablets

If you have an Android tablet running Android OS version 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. L:et's find out how to create a second user account and exercise parental control over the way it works:

user accounts tablets
  1. Open your apps list and tap on the Settings icon.
  2. Scroll down the settings page until you find Users, then press on it. On tablets like Samsung's, you might need to tap on the General tab at the top of the screen first.
  3. Choose to add a new profile by tapping on the small icon of a person next to the magnifying glass in the top-right corner. As we're setting this up as a child's account, touch restricted profile.
  4. android tablet user accountsAt this stage you may be asked to set up a PIN or passcode for your user account. This will only appear if you haven't already secured your profile, and is necessary in order to stop your children bypassing parental controls by simply logging into the phone as you.
  5. You will now see a list of all the apps currently installed on your tablet. Scroll down this list, adding a tick next to each app you want to block access to. When ticked, the app is allowed.
  6. The account is now set up, ready for your children to use! To access the new profile, lock your tablet. When you go to unlock it again, the screen will display icons for each user profile in the top-right corner. Tap on your child's profile name to sign in as them. Any apps you turned on in the previous step will be accessible. Any others won't appear and can't be accessed until you switch users at the lock screen.

Parental controls for Android phones & tablets

There are many ways to set up parental controls for an Android phone. Some manufacturers like HTC 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.

Restrict 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.

play store payments
  1. From your apps list, open the Play Store.
  2. Touch the menu button, which looks like three lines in the top-left corner of the Play Store (next to the search box).
  3. From the menu which appears, press Settings.
  4. Find the User controls heading and tap on Require authentication for purchases.
  5. 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.

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:

  1. Go back to your apps list and open Settings.
  2. Scroll down the page and touch Security. On some smartphones you will need to tap on the More heading to view your security settings.
  3. 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.

Content Filtering

You can filter the Play Store to only show apps that are appropriate for children, and the process is very easy to follow:

play store controls 1
  1. Firstly, head back into the Play Store app and press the menu button.
  2. Choose Settings.
  3. Scroll down to the User controls heading and press Parental controls.
  4. Enter a PIN to protect your changes from being undone. You'll have to confirm it to make sure you know what it is!

play store controls 2

  1. Make sure the parental controls are turned on, then tap on a category to set the appropriate age rating.
  2. 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!

If you need help configuring your computer, phone or tablet Geek Squad can help. We offer malware removal, device set-up, software installation and more. Learn more.

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