Kids love technology. Show them a tablet or smartphone and they’re immediately interested, even if they aren’t quite sure how it works. In a just a few short years of life, most kids can outperform their parents on tablets and love watching shows, playing games, or streaming movies. Studies suggest, however, that tablet and cell phone use for kids under two should be almost nonexistent, and be limited to less than an hour a day when they’re older. So how do parents limit mobile usage on a iPad, iPhone, or iPod?

Turn off the Wi-Fi

If your device doesn’t have 3 or 4G, turning off Wi-Fi access is one option. Turn off the router to prevent kids from connecting to the Internet to download more apps or movies. If you’d like a less drastic solution, you can use a Mac computer to enable Timed Access Control and limit the amount of time each device on a network is able to connect. Start by grabbing the WiFi address of your iDevice from the About section of Settings, then power up your Mac, click on Network, and then Enable Access Control.

Turn on Guided Access

You’ll find this under Settings—>General—>Accessibility. There, you’ll see a slider for Guided Access. Once on, you’ll create a four-digit passcode. When an app loads, triple-tap the home button and the Guided Access menu will appear, letting you block out specific features, such as in-app purchases or online play. Press Start and the app will work as normal, but kids won’t be able to return to the home screen without your access code.

Restrict Apps or Permissions

Head to Settings—>General—>Restrictions to create a restriction code. You can then apply the code to any app on your iPhone or iPad, meaning you can allow your child to access his or her favorite games and movies but prevent them from using Safari, accessing email or making phone calls. You can also limit specific permissions on the device using the same code. This function lets you prevent kids from deleting apps (like usage-monitoring apps) or accessing content that includes a specific age rating. Even volume control can be limited.

Turn off Simple Passcode

The four-digit lock screen passcode is familiar to iDevice users and easily cracked by children. If your simple passcode has been cracked, go to Settings—>General—>Passcode Lock and turn off Simple Passcode. The phone will ask you for your original code and then prompt you for a new, more complex alternative. The only downsides? Forgetting your new password and locking yourself out, or writing the password down and leaving it somewhere your kids will look.

Managing cell phone use and tablet time with kids is a challenge, but with iPhones and iPads you have the choice to forbid, restrict, or simply limit access. What methods do you find most effective for curbing excessive screen time?

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


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