Quick Guide: Parental Controls for Android Devices

image of Android phone and tablet with title Quick Guide to Parental Controls for AndroidIt’s no secret – I’m an Android girl. I love the flexibility Android devices offer users.; but I will say Android devices are hands down the most challenging for most parents when it comes to setting up parental controls. The challenge might be due, in part, to the range of Android devices on the market and the lack of information available to parents. My hope is that the information in this post will help.

Kids are incredibly tech-savvy. It’s tempting to put off setting up parental controls on your device when your kids are very young; but, the truth is, even a toddler can manage to use your Android smartphone or tablet in ways you didn’t know were possible. It may seem like a pain, but 15-20 minutes for a one time set up really isn’t much time when you consider the risk of accidental purchases or, worse yet, exposure to adult content your child faces when set in front of a device with no parental controls in place.

First let’s understand which version of Android you are running. Believe it or not that makes a big difference.

If you are running Lollipop, you’re in luck! Android introduced restricted profiles which let the device administrator control the app permissions of each user profile. Setting up a restricted profile for your child is an easy way to give you control over the apps your child has access to when they are on your Android device. This also applies to Marshmallow, if that Android update has been rolled out to you. If you are running Jelly Bean or KitKat and are able to update, I’d definitely recommend doing so.

Not sure if you have Lollipop? You can check here.

NOTE: If you aren’t running Android Lollipop or Marshmallow, I’d suggest using one of the 3rd party apps from the Google Play store mentioned below.

Now that we know what version we’re running, let’s talk options.

If you have Lollipop, these steps will set up Parental Controls on your Android Device

Step 1- From the Android home screen, pull down from the top right and tap on Settings. Scroll down and select Users, then tap ‘Add user or profile’.

image of Android showing how to add a User Profile

You have 2 options. Create a normal User profile, or a Restricted profile. Select Restricted profile.

Step 2- If you don’t already have a screen lock on your device, you’ll be prompted to set one up now. Tap Set lock.

image showing how to add a sreen lock in Android

You can choose one of the 3 options: a pattern, PIN or password lock. Follow the instructions to set up the one you select.

Step 3- Tap the settings icon next to the ‘New profile’ to give it a name.

image showing how to add your child's name in Android

Step 4- You’ll now see a list of apps installed on your device, with on/off toggles to the side. By default, the restricted profile has access to none. You now go through the list and toggle on the apps appropriate for your child.

image showing how to list the approved apps for your child in Android

Step 5- From the home screen, you’ll now find the new restricted account you’ve set up for your child. When selected, they’ll only have access to the apps approved by you. Your apps will remain safely protected with the pattern, password, or PIN you set up in Step 2. Your child might see the Google Play Store app, but they will receive a notification letting them know they don’t have permission to use the store.

images of the new home screen for your child on an Android device

One word of caution: Many free games come loaded with in-app purchases. It takes just moments for an unsupervised child to unknowingly make a purchase. Guard against this by having a password set for ALL purchases in your Google account. I also recommend knowing if the apps your child is play does have in-app purchases. With so many apps on the market, it’s easy to avoid those with ads and in-app purchases.

I said this was a “Quick Guide,” but we are talking about my beloved Android; and one draw of Android devices is options. Because of that, let me give you 2 more simple, quick child safety options for Android.

If you simply need a way to restrict access to the internet, calling, and messaging features on your device before handing it off to your child, enable Flight mode. You’ll find Flight mode in Settings> Airplane Mode.

The Google Play store has a number of parental control apps. If you’d rather use an app instead of using the method I shared above for making your Android device child friendly, I’d recommend Kid’s Place or Funamo. This is also a good option if you have an Android device running Jelly Bean or KitKat.

There are options for parental controls if you are like me and love Android devices. The 15-20 minutes it takes to set up it will be worth the time and effort. Our kids are worth it!



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