Most parents want to restrict what their kids can do online. Generally they want to:
- Restrict what Apps they can install.
- Restrict what Apps they can use.
- Restrict what websites they can visit.
Although Android and Google Play services allow you to make configuration changes to apply certain restrictions (see preventing unwanted purchases) the easiest, and best way of creating and applying restrictions to an android tablet/phone is to use an App.
There are many Apps you can choose from, and the capabilities will vary considerably.
The Apps work by creating a new App launcher which restricts access to only selected Apps.
Note: An App launcher replaces your home screen. See Android home screens for beginners.
The check list below should be a good starting point when making your comparison
- Ability to restrict Apps Usage
- Ability to restrict Apps Usage remotely
- Ability to Turn Off In-App Purchasing
- Ability to Control Access to The Playstore
- Ability to Filter Web Content
- Ability to use Time Restrictions
- Can’t be disabled except by Parent
- Can’t be disabled by Rebooting
- Ease of Use
- Suitability – Kids or Teens
Note: Most free Parental Control Apps will let you control App usage, and will let you upgrade to a premium version for advanced features like browser restrictions,remote control etc.
Note: All of the Apps can be used in a work environment to restrict access to workers.
Example- Using Kids Place
I installed a couple of Apps to try out and rather than take you through a whole series of Apps I’m going to show you what you can expect by going quickly through Kids Place App.
The free Kids place gives you basic control of the Apps that your child can use.
You will need to install the App from Google Play and run it. The first time you run it it ask for a PIN which will be used to control Access to the App settings.
The App also asks for an email address and a pin prompt which can be used to recover a forgotten PIN
You may also be asked to give the App usage access. (screen-shot below)
You will probably be taken to a blank home screen and maybe be prompted to add Apps.
If you just get a blank home screen then go to the App settings
Select manage Apps.
Press on the icon for the Apps that you want to add. You can select multiple Apps. Selected Apps are shown with a white background.
Click done when finished and exit (bottom right) to exit settings. You can remove Apps by following the same procedure.
This is what your child will see with Kids place running.
If you now power down the device, when you restart Android it should start with kids place running and App restrictions in place.
You can go back to a normal home screen by exiting Kids App (need PIN), and you can restart kids App like any other App.
The basic kids place App doesn’t let you control access to particular websites (without a paid plugin), but you can stop web access completely by not allowing access to the browser App.
Parental Control Apps work by replacing the home screen with a new one which you can control.
They allow you to control access to the Google Playstore, and restrict access to Apps.
You can also use these Apps for controlling work devices.