The first time I showed my iPhone to my two-year-old niece, I was amazed at how she knew exactly what to do with it. We were looking at photos (she has a lot of fun identifying family members) and she knew exactly how to swipe to get to the next one. And she was mesmerized by it — the familiar faces on the small glowing screen were utterly captivating. It won't be long before she'll be ready to conquer an iPad on her own, at which point we'll want to make sure we've implemented some common-sense hacks for adults who share their tablet before sharing the device with her.
I imagine that, as comfortable as I am around technology, my niece and everyone else who's currently a toddler will be a million times more at home with it. I started using computers at a relatively young age, but they've been surrounded by tablets and phones since before they were born. They are going to have an instinctive knowledge of how to use them.
Given all of that, it's important to make sure you're training your toddler right. Before letting them loose on your iPad, you'll want to put a few protections in place so they don't stumble onto something they shouldn't — and also so that they don't accidentally delete any apps or change your settings.
Keep them in a single app
If you want your toddler to stay in one app, and not wander around to see what else might be out there, Guided Access is the perfect solution, reported Popular Science. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Guided Access. Toggle the button to "on." When you want to launch it for the current app, triple tap the home button. From there, explained Popular Science, you can disable certain areas of the screen, disable the volume controls, and set a time limit (and you can even opt to have the remaining time announced from the iPad).
When you're ready to end Guided Access, triple-tap the home button again and enter your passcode or fingerprint.
Toddlers love YouTube, and let's face it, so do their parents, for the temporary peace and quiet it offers. But there are plenty of things on YouTube that you don't want coming anywhere near your child. And for that, there's the YouTube Kids app. It lets you do things like create a profile for your toddler, block certain videos or channels, turn search on or off, and set a timer for how long they can use the app.
Restrict certain apps and purchases
If you're happy to let your toddler explore multiple apps, but want to keep them away from things like Safari, the camera, and the iTunes Store, you can do that by enabling Restrictions, explained Popular Science. Go to Settings > General > Restrictions, set your Restrictions passcode, and then choose what to allow or disallow. This is also where you can keep your kid away from the places where they could inadvertently rack up a big bill, like in-app purchases and the iBooks Store. When your toddler is done and you want your access back, just go back to Restrictions, click to disable, and enter your Restrictions passcode.
Get a sturdy case and screen protector
Cases and screen protectors may not be the sexiest things, but they are invaluable if you're going to be handing your iPad over to your toddler. PCMag recommended the Griffin Survivor All-Terrain as a particularly rugged option, and Gumdrop if you're looking for some colorful, kid-friendly choices. The site also advised parents not to skip the screen protector, since kids aren't going to be as careful as you would be, and you don't want to have to pay to repair a cracked or scratched screen.
Customize the Control Center
If you want to make sure your toddler doesn't swipe up and accidentally set an alarm or change the screen magnification, you can change what's accessible from the Control Center, suggested Macworld. Go to Settings > Control Center and choose what to include or exclude.
Put it in Airplane Mode
If your toddler is doing something that doesn't require any data connection, Macworld recommended putting your iPad in Airplane Mode and turning off Wi-FI as a simple way to keep them from stumbling onto the interwebs or accidentally using up your data plan.
Prevent access to content and websites
To let your toddler explore apps or the web while keeping them safe from anything explicit, you can prevent access to certain types of content and websites, as explained on the Apple support site. Go to Settings > General > Restrictions, then scroll down to Allowed Content to enable or disable access to music, movies, websites, and more, based on age and explicit content ratings.
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