Child with iPhone

How to let your child play on your iPhone without it ending in drama

There comes a time when you need to keep your child entertained and all you have is your smartphone. Perhaps you are stuck in the traffic or sitting in a waiting room.

There are lots of great child apps and games that will keep your child busy for sure, but when it comes to finishing and handing the phone back there is usually a little drama. Your child is in the middle of something and doesn’t want to part with this great toy. You end up being the “baddie” because you took away all the fun.

The solution is to get help from the technology. You can set a timer on your iPhone and when it finishes the phone will turn itself off and stay locked until you enter a passcode.

The phone can even announce that their time will soon finish. No problem: your child understands that the fun activity just finished on its own and hands your phone back to you.

Here’s how to set it up.

Open Settings, then Accessibility. Scroll down to the end and tap Guided Access in the “Learning” section:

Guided access settings screenshot

Enable Guided Access and tap Time Limits. Enable Speak there and set alarm sound:

Guided access time limits and alarm screenshot

Now, open any app and press the Home button three times (you will need to press it fairly quickly). You should see the Guided Access screen:

Start guided access screenshot

Tap “Options” on the bottom and set time limit:

Guided access time limit screenshot

Tap Done and then Start. Your iPhone is ready for your child.

Another great benefit of guided access is that your child is unable to switch to another app on your phone and mess with the settings, delete something important or access something inappropriate.

See also Use Guided Access with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch on Apple website.

Child watching TV

Why I built Safe Vision

Safe Vision is a mobile app that helps parents filter YouTube videos for their children.

When my daughter was 7, she was staying home alone from time to time (admittedly too early). One day she watched some scary videos on YouTube unsupervised. That was a traumatic experience for her: for a while, she was afraid of the dark, could not sleep alone, and would not stay alone in her room. Every little noise would scary her. She was telling us that things have moved on their own. It took her quite some time to recover.

Also, I noticed that my son watched a lot of gaming videos with strong language in them. That’s when I decided to do something about it.

Child watching TV

The trend is alarming: according to the study by NSPCC 40% of children seen violent material and nearly a third reported seeing self-harming or suicide content on YouTube.

Initially, I wanted the app to do all the filtering according to the child’s age. But I quickly discovered that parents have a wide range of opinions about what’s appropriate for their children. Today the main feature of the app is “unlocking” channels and videos in the parent mode.

I strongly believe that we as parents are responsible for what goes into the minds of our children. It’s like food: left to their own devices, children would eat a lot of junk food and candy. However, we as the parents are responsible for providing healthy choices.

This is true when the children are very young and lack a moral compass to tell them what’s good and what’s not.

I think James Bridle gave the best advice for parents about YouTube:

If you have small children, keep them the hell away from YouTube.

However, if you still want to let your child watch YouTube, please use some kind of parental control tool.