Use parental con­trols in An­droid

JIM MARTIN looks at how to keep your chil­dren safe on­line

Android Advisor - - Contents -

Kids are in­creas­ingly tech-savvy these days, and even a toddler will man­age to use your An­droid phone or tablet in ways you didn’t know were pos­si­ble. Apart from run­ning up a heavy bill in app and game pur­chases, this means your chil­dren may also be at risk from on­line preda­tors and adult con­tent.

But you don’t have to live in fear. We’re go­ing to show you how to set up sen­si­ble parental con­trols

and cre­ate user pro­files for kids that you can use in An­droid 5.0 or later (and in 4.3 on­ward on tablets).

Set up a child’s ac­count on An­droid

We’re using An­droid (7.1 Nougat) on a OnePlus 3T, but since the in­ter­face varies on just about ev­ery An­droid phone don’t ex­pect yours to look iden­ti­cal. The process, though, is broadly the same - you may just have to hunt around for the Users en­try in your phone or tablet’s set­tings.

First, drag down from the top of the screen, then drag down fur­ther if a set­tings cog icon doesn’t ap­pear. Tap on the icon to open the Set­tings app.

Scroll down un­til you see Users. If your phone has a Set­tings app split into sec­tions, you might have to search other tabs to find the Users menu.

In Users, you’ll see your own ac­count, or the main ac­count of the owner of the phone. There will be an ‘Add user’ op­tion, so tap on this.

Ac­cept the mes­sage by tap­ping ‘OK’ then tap on ‘SET UP NOW’

The de­vice will log you out and ask you to sign into the new user’s ac­count. As that’s for a child in this case, you’ll con­tinue to make the set­tings.

Tap Con­tinue, as in the im­age above left, then you’ll be asked if you want to sign into an An­droid ac­count. If you want to pre­vent your kids from down­load­ing apps, games, mu­sic, videos and TV shows through Google Play, just tap on Skip Setup. You will still be able to down­load apps via your own user ac­count.

You’ll also have the op­tion to set up their email ac­count, or tap Not now if you don’t want to.

Re­strict con­tent in Play Store

As­sum­ing you do want to give your child ac­cess to the Google Play Store within their ac­count, ei­ther sign in with your own Google ac­count when prompted dur­ing the setup, or use their ac­count if they have one.

Then, launch the Play Store app (this is in their user ac­count on the phone or tablet still) and tap the ‘ham­burger’ – the three hor­i­zon­tal lines at the top left. Scroll down and tap Set­tings, then scroll un­til you see Parental con­trols. Tap it, and you’ll have to cre­ate a PIN code. En­ter this twice.

Now the set­ting will be turned on and you can then tap each cat­e­gory to set how re­stric­tive you want to be for each. For apps and games, the num­bers re­late to ages, so tap PEGI 7 is the child is be­tween four and seven. Be sure to tap SAVE at the bot­tom of each screen.

Be­low the Parental con­trols master switch is shown a sum­mary of which re­stric­tion is set for each type of con­tent (see above).

If you want to pre­vent kids from buy­ing con­tent freely, you can set a PIN that only you know which will be asked for when they try to down­load any­thing that costs money. To do this, go back to the main Play Store set­tings menu and tap on ‘Re­quire au­then­ti­ca­tion for pur­chases’.

The Play Store isn’t the only place to down­load apps and games, so it’s im­por­tant to make sure other sources are blocked. To do this, go back to the de­vice’s home screen, and drag down from the top of the screen again to get to the cog icon – tap it to open the Set­tings app.

Find the Se­cu­rity sec­tion (called Se­cu­rity & fin­ger­print on our phone), tap it and then check to

make sure the Un­known sources switch is turned off (which it prob­a­bly will be).

Make YouTube safe

Kids love watch­ing YouTube videos, and now there’s a YouTube Kids app you can down­load for free in the Play Store. Do this while logged into their ac­count on the phone or tablet.

Launch the app and it will ex­plain that no al­go­rithm is a 100 per­cent guar­an­tee that ev­ery­thing in the app is to­tally safe for them and that you can eas­ily flag an in­ap­pro­pri­ate video so the team can re­view and re­move it. You can then set the re­stric­tion level to Preschool, School age or All kids.

Fi­nally, you have the op­tion to turn search on or off. With it off, they will have to use the menus in the app to dis­cover videos, but in our ex­pe­ri­ence this is

too lim­it­ing and it’s bet­ter to have search on – at least for kids five and older.

It’s im­por­tant not to use these parental con­trol fea­tures as an ex­cuse for not su­per­vis­ing your child’s use of the phone or tablet. It’s best to keep an eye on what they’re watch­ing and lis­ten­ing to, as well as set­ting ground rules on what’s al­lowed and what isn’t, plus how much screen time they can have each day.

There are lots of apps which can au­to­mat­i­cally dis­able cer­tain apps – or even the en­tire de­vice, such as Screen­limit (

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