iPhone Quick Tips: Guided Access and Restrictions

Do you want your child to be able to use an iPod, iPhone, or iPad

but you are concerned about what they might access?

Looking for a way to make your iPhone more kid friendly?

How can you be sure they are not accessing inappropriate content on their mobile devices?

How do you insure they only do what you have given them permission to do?

Kids on iPad

To all the parents out there, like most people these days you have a lot going on.  You want to keep your kids safe but cannot supervise their every move.  Technology is becoming a large part of children’s lives.  Kids use smartphones and tablets like they were born computer programmers, and internet access is everywhere.  But not everything that can be accessed is suitable for children.

Don’t worry, Apple has built into its operating system a couple great features that help you control your mobile device’s access levels.  Guided Access and Restrictions are two simple methods to create restrictions, disallow changes, and take a little more control of your device.

Want to let your kid play Angry Birds but you need to make sure they wont get into anything else?  I know from experience it is quite easy for tiny people to grab your phone and start pushing buttons.  The next thing you know your contacts are gone and you have been locked out of your phone by a 2 year old!

Guided Access OnGuided Access keeps the device on a single app and allows you to control which features are available.  First you will need to turn on the guided access feature.  Go to Settings>General>Accessibility>Guided Access.  Here you can enable the feature and chose whether or not to set a passcode.  Once the feature is enabled, open the app you want to use and triple-click the home button.  From here you can adjust the settings.  At the bottom of the screen you can choose to turn on or off the Sleep/Wake Button and Volume Buttons, turn on or off the touch screen function or motion function (to prevent the screen from rotating).

Guided AccessOnce you have chosen your settings, hit Start on the top-right corner of the screen.  The device is now in guided access mode.  The user will only have access to the current app and cannot leave using the home button.  Triple-clicking the home button again will bring you back to the settings menu where you can make modifications or End guided access.  If you chose to add a passcode you will need it to exit or modify settings.

This was always a favorite of mine to keep my toddler nephew from accidentally pausing his favorite Mickey Mouse show or leaving the app with the home button.  It is also a great way to keep a movie running on an iPad in the car, when little fingers get curious and you can’t take your eyes off the road.

Ok, Guided Access is great but limiting.  What can you when more access is required but you want to remain in control? 

Restrictions: Allow

For more precise and individualized control you can enable Restrictions.  Go to Settings>General>Restrictions.  You will be prompted to enter a passcode that will be required to enable, disable, or change the restrictions.  Restrictions are similar to parental controls.  Here you can allow or disallow access to various aspects and features of the device while retaining much of the functionality.

The Allow section lets you enable or disable access to specific apps and functions:  Safari, Camera, FaceTime, iTunes Store, Installing Apps, Deleting Apps, In-App Purchases, Siri, AirDrop, and CarPlay.  Practical application: Restrict downloads and purchases without having to keep an Apple ID password secret.

The Privacy section lets you decide whether or not to allow changes to specific services.  You can also choose which apps have access to those services.  Selecting “Don’t Allow Changes” will lock in the current settings and prevent future apps from access.  Practical application: Use a location app to track the phone while preventing the user from disabling locations services.Restrictions: Privacy

The Allowed Content section lets you filter content by what is age appropriate.  You can restrict music and podcasts with explicit content, select allowed movie and TV show ratings ranging from none to all, restrict apps base on age rating, or decide if Siri can perform web searches or accept explicit language.  You can also choose websites that can be accessed, either from a list of suggestions provided by Apple or by adding your own.

Restrictions: Allowed Content


The Allow Changes section lets you determine if changes can be made to Cellular Data Use, Background App Refresh, Volume Limit, and Account – which prevents adding, removing or modifying accounts under “Mail, Contacts, Calendars”.

The Game Center, lets you turn on or off multiplayer game function and the ability to add friends.

Although both Guided Access and Restrictions are great tools for parents, they are not just for kids.  

Guided Access can be used in a number of ways:  Keep your iPad locked on a document or slideshow during a meeting or presentation.  Lock in one app in a classroom setting.

Restrictions can also be useful to anyone.  If you are not the most technology savvy person and you are worried about accidentally making changes or deleting important information, set some Restrictions.  It is a great way to lock in settings or prevent accidental purchases.  Block “Cellular Data Use” and “Background App Refresh” to help avoid data overages.  Or if you are easily distracted like I am, lock yourself out of Facebook and the internet to remind yourself to stay on task!

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