iPhone or Android? This is one question parents will contemplate when they decide to give their child a smartphone. The final answer usually lies in their perception of which operating system gives the most “bang for the buck” in helping parents track and control their child’s gadget use.
Both operating systems, Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android OS, possess a different variety of features which can create a kid-friendly, adult-controlled smartphone that is relatively safe for your child’s use.
Child-Proofing an Android Phone
Setting Up Yourself as the Administrator
First thing’s first: establish control over the device before handing it over to your child. Phones running on Android Lollipop (version 5.0) and later allow users to set up different accounts. Set up an account with yourself as the primary user or the administrator of the phone. Having the sole right to administrative privileges gives you the lone power of giving permission on what apps your child can see, access, and what content they can get out of it. You can also restrict them from texting and sending emails.
Once you’ve established your god powers, create a restricted user profile for your child. To do this, go to Settings>Users>Add user. Choose Restricted Profile from the options. Then, simply toggle on the apps you wish your child to have access to. Switch off apps you want to restrict access to. Some apps have a gear icon beside it to signal further options. Google Play Movies, for instance, allows you to set the content rating allowable for your child’s viewing.
Be one step ahead of your kid by creating a password for your primary account. Many kids are clever enough to realize that access to your account is key to bypassing all their restrictions.
Controlling Access to Google Play
You can completely restrict your child from downloading or viewing any app on Google Play by simply toggling off Google Play while setting up your child’s restricted account.
If Google Play is accessible in your child’s account, you may stop any downloads and purchases from the Play Store by requiring a password. This can be done by locking your Google account’s payment method to your child’s Play Store. Your secret password would prevent any surprise billings. You may also go to the store’s Apps and Games’ setting submenu and choose “Require authentication for purchases”. Then require authentication with the options, “For all purchases through Google Play on this device”.
If you deem a little bit of liberty won’t hurt for your child to download free, kid-safe apps from Google’s app store, you can give limited access to Google Play. Restrict the type of content they can download by using your primary account to set rating restrictions on movies, games, books, apps, TV, and magazines.
Restricting Access to Third-Party Apps
Not all Android-compatible apps reside in the Google Play Store. There are many apps available on other websites which can be downloaded or purchased without restrictions. Completely disable all access to third-party applications by going into the settings of your gadget’s apps list and then accessing the security option. Once in, turn off the option, “allow installation of apps from unknown sources.”
Restricting Access to All Apps but One
If you allow your child to borrow your phone for a little while or simply using it just to keep them busy, it would be a good idea to use the screen pinning feature of the operating system. Android 5.0 and the more advanced versions allow you to simply pin an app, like a particular game or educational app, onto the screen. Your child will only be able to interact with this single app and nothing else. No more fears about he or she gaining access to any other app, content, or feature on your phone.
Child-Proofing an iPhone
Setting Up Parental Control
Just as Android phones have app-restrictive features, iPhones also have their own version as well. Apple’s iOS’ umbrella parental control feature is the Restrictions option. Turn this on and encode your own password to give you blanket control over what apps, websites, and content can be accessed and downloaded. Restrictions gives you control over Safari, iTunes, Camera, AirDrop, FaceTime, and all other apps. It also gives you virtual control over most of the functions and features of the iPhone such as Bluetooth and Location Services. Restrictions give you the administrative privileges that limit your child’s interaction with the phone. Your child may not be able to take any pictures, for instance, if you restrict the use of the Camera app.
Sharing a Family Apple ID
Some parents prefer the entire family share one Apple ID. Since Apple’s iOS recognizes only one individual account even if multiple devices log in with the same ID, all family members will be able to see what each one is up to with their Apple devices.
The advantage of sharing an Apple ID is that parents can monitor their child’s text and Facetime conversations, Facebook posts, contacts list, photos, and all other multimedia activities. The downside to sharing an ID, however, works in the same manner as allowing your kid to see what you do as well, what content you download, read your conversations, view your browsing footprints, and everything else you do with an Apple device. You may want to skirt this issue by getting your own Apple ID account, aside from the family-shared one, to protect your personal data from accidental erasures or to keep inquisitive noses out of your online activity.
Features that Boost Parental Control
Apps like YouTube and search engines like Google have parental control features that work on phones running on either Android or iOS. YouTube has a kid-friendly app that can be downloaded for children video streaming. Youtube Kids even screens advertisements to be family friendly. With the app, parents can also set a timer limiting kids on the amount time they can access the app. Once the time expires, the app will auto lock and videos cannot be streamed.
SafeSearch is a built-in feature of the Google search engine that filters out explicit or adult content from search results. Toggle this to On, on your phone’s Google app settings. Again, this feature is not foolproof; but, it is better than setting no restrictions. You can prevent SafeSearch from being toggled off by requiring permission with your Google account. Be warned, however, that some objectionable content may still manage to slip through.
Although both the Android and the iOS operating systems have features that allow parents to take back some control over what today’s devices can expose kids to, these are not 100% flawless. A child may still be subject to inappropriate content or unsavory messages through whatever unseen loopholes these systems have. Know that there are other apps out there that can help beef up your child-proofing efforts of your child’s phone or tablet. Some of these apps work exclusively on either operating system; but, there are several that are designed to work well on both Android phones and iPhones. One such app worth looking into is KidGuard which is compatible on both phone types. KidGuard offers many features to help any parent not only control what content their child is absorbing but also be informed of their child’s location, text messages, detailed call logs, and other online activities, all in real-time.
No matter which phone you finally decide to give your child, just make sure to invest the time and perhaps, some expense to make sure the gadget you give is as safe for them as it can get.