How to Childproof Your Android and Make It Kid Friendly

Things to do before letting your child use an Android phone or tablet

While the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than two hours of screen time per-day for kids, smartphones and tablets can help children learn and develop important skills when used in the right way. Before you hand off your phone to a toddler or a teenager, learn how to set up parental controls for an Android device.

Information in this article applies to smartphones and tablets running Android OS.

Two young girls playing on digital tablet, at night
Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images 

Put a Lock on Your Smartphone or Tablet

Lock your Android device with a PIN or password. After you activate the lock screen, you will be asked to enter the PIN anytime you activate the device or attempt to make major changes, such as altering important Android Settings.

It's also possible to lock specific Android apps.

Create a New User on Your Device

Set up an Android guest account to allow or disallow access to certain apps on the device. By default, Android will block access to almost everything including the Chrome browser, so you must manually select the games and apps your children can use. In the Google Play Movies & TV app, you can restrict access to content based on parental rating. If you have kids of varying ages, you can even set up specific profiles for each of them that are age-appropriate.

Set Up Parental Controls in Google Play

You can restrict downloads from the Google Play Store so that kids can't purchase content without your permission. The restrictions in the Google Play store extends to movies, music, and books as well as apps. To set up parental controls in Google Play:

  1. Launch the Google Play app and tap the menu icon in the top-left corner.

  2. Scroll down and tap Settings.

  3. Scroll down and tap Parental controls.

    Navigating to parental controls in Android.
  4. Set the Parental controls toggle to the On position.

    You will be prompted to enter your device's PIN or password to make changed to parental controls.

  5. Scroll down to toggle restrictions for each section. For Books and Music, the only option is to restrict adult content. Apps, Games, Movies, and TV use standardized age restrictions.

    These restrictions only apply to apps available in the Google Play Store. These settings will not restrict access to pre-installed and side loaded apps.

    Turning on Parental Controls.

Best Apps for Childproofing Your Android Device

There are also apps that allow you to set additional restrictions such as limiting screen time and restricting access to specific websites. For example: 

  • Applock lets you lock almost anything on your phone or tablet, including phone calls, individual apps, photos, and Google Play.
  • Kids Place Parental Control displays only the apps children are allowed to open on their guest accounts. 
  • Screen Time Parental Control disables access to all apps after a specified time.
  • McAfee Safe Family offers several childproofing tools including a website blocker.
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