Tablets provide children with an endless world of fun and learning that is literally at their fingertips. As a parent, you may be concerned that your child will be exposed to inappropriate or even dangerous content. Furthermore, you will most likely want to limit the amount of time your children spend playing video games or watching YouTube. Fortunately, with a little forethought, you can set up a tablet that is safe, enjoyable, and simple for your child to use. You can even set screen time limits with basic parental controls.
Method 1 Choosing the Right Tablet and Accessories
1. Choose a tablet designed for children if you want built-in child-friendly features. While any tablet can be configured with parental controls and downloaded with kid-friendly apps, there are several options on the market that come pre-loaded with features and content designed specifically for children. Many of these tablets are also small and sturdy, making them ideal for younger users. Look for alternatives such as:
The Amazon Fire Kids Edition
The Fuhu Nabi Dream Tab
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Lite Kids Edition
The Leapfrog Epic
The KD Interactive Kurio Smart, a combination tablet and laptop for kids
2. Make a list of the features you desire to help you narrow down your options. Different tablets have different strengths, so consider how your child will use their tablet the majority of the time. Make a list of the key features you want in a tablet, such as a high-quality display, plenty of storage space, and a good selection of pre-loaded apps and content. Then you can compare the various options on the market and select the best one for your child.
The Amazon Fire Kids Edition, for example, is a great option if you want a tablet that comes preloaded with a tonne of kid-friendly books, games, and music.
If you believe your child will primarily use their tablet to watch movies on the go, consider the Fuhu Nabi Dream Tab, which has a powerful 8 in (20 cm) display and built-in access to a plethora of Disney content.
3. Purchase a strong case to help protect the tablet. Accidents can happen no matter how cautious your child is. Look for a kid-proof tablet case that has plenty of cushioning, grips on the sides for little hands, and possibly even water resistance to protect your child’s tablet from the occasional bump, fall, or juice spill. Make certain that the case you select is designed to fit your specific tablet.
Some children’s tablets, such as the Amazon Fire Kids Edition, come with their own carrying case. Typically, however, you will need to purchase the case separately.
Some cases include useful extras such as a built-in stand or a mount for the back of a car seat headrest.
4. To avoid smudges and scratches, use a screen protector. You’ll also want to keep sticky fingers and rough handling away from your tablet’s delicate screen. Look for a screen protector that is specifically designed to fit your child’s tablet.
Tempered glass screen protectors are slightly more expensive than some of the plastic alternatives on the market, but they are far more durable.
Some screen protectors are designed to reduce glare or filter out blue light, thereby reducing eye strain in your child.
5. Look for a bag or sleeve that will allow you to carry your tablet wherever you go. Tablets are ideal for keeping children entertained during long car or plane rides. If you intend to carry the tablet around, invest in a carrying case that will protect it while also allowing you to easily transport accessories such as chargers and headphones.
A variety of tablet bags and carrying cases are available in fun, kid-friendly designs and colours. Allow your child to choose their favourite design!
Method 2 Setting Parental Controls
1. If you have a tablet designed for children, take advantage of the built-in settings. Tablets designed for children are typically pre-loaded with parental controls and security features. When you first turn on the tablet, follow the prompts and instructions onscreen to configure your child’s account the way you want it.
The LeapFrog Epic, for example, will prompt you to create a parental account as well as separate accounts for up to three children. You can control which websites your children can access and how much screen time they can have on any given day using the parental controls.
The Amazon Fire tablet family also includes extensive parental control settings, which can be accessed via the tablet’s “Settings” menu. You can use these controls to set time limits, content restrictions, and even daily educational goals for your child.
2. To set parental controls on an iPad, use the “Screen Time” controls. While iPads aren’t specifically designed for children, they do have a number of built-in parental controls that you can access via the “Screen Time” feature in the “Settings” app. Select “Screen Time” from the sidebar after opening “Settings.” You can then use the “Downtime” feature to limit your screen time.
Set timers for individual apps.
Using the “Always Allowed” feature, you can specify which apps your child can access at any time.
Filter out content that might be inappropriate for your child.
Tip: If your family has more than one Apple device, it’s a good idea to enable “Family Sharing” through your Apple account. This feature allows you to create a separate Apple ID for your child and add them to your group. This way, you can manage your child’s account remotely from your own device.
3. To set basic limits, create a restricted account on your Android. Even if your child uses an Android-based tablet that is not designed for children, you can still set some very basic parental controls. The most straightforward option is to create a user profile for your child that does not have access to the Google Play store. You’ll be able to control which apps they can have on their device through your own account this way. To create a profile for your child, follow these steps:
Go to “Settings,” then “Advanced,” and then “Multiple Users.”
To create your child’s profile, click the “Add User” button and follow the prompts.
When prompted to sign in to an Android account, select “Skip Setup.” This will prevent your child from using their account to access Google Play. You can still download apps and other content by logging in with your own account.
4. For more advanced parental controls, download the Family Link app. Google’s Family Link app offers more comprehensive and adaptable parental controls than the standard Android operating system. Install the app on your tablet and use it to limit your child’s screen time, manage which apps they download, and track their daily activity.
While Family Link is primarily intended for use on Android devices, it can also be used on an iPad or other iOS device.
You can also limit what content your child can access directly from the Google Play store. In the Google Play menu, go to “Settings,” then “Parental Controls.” You can then set restrictions on which content is available.
Method 3 Installing Kid-Friendly Apps
1. To find appropriate apps, look at ratings and age recommendations. If you’re unsure whether an app is appropriate for your child, look at its rating in the app store for guidance. These ratings will give you an idea of the app’s intended age range and the type of content you can expect to find.
Depending on which app store or operating system you use, the rating system may differ. In the United States, for example, Google Play uses the standard ESRB ratings (with the most child-friendly ratings being Everyone and Everyone 10+).
Apple has its own rating system based on age. Apps for young children, for example, are rated 4+, whereas apps for older children may be rated 9+ or 12+. The content is rated 17+ for mature audiences.
2. Before you download an app, read the reviews. Although content ratings and age recommendations are useful, they are not without flaws. Try reading reviews from other parents in the app store to get a better idea of what an app is like. Examine both the positive and negative reviews to get a sense of what kinds of concerns people have about the app’s content or functionality.
You can also use websites that specialise in reviewing children’s media, such as Common Sense Media. Common Sense Media has detailed game and app reviews divided by age range, as well as lists of highly recommended apps for children.
3. Select games that promote creativity and problem solving. Even games designed solely for entertainment can be useful as educational tools. When selecting games for your child’s tablet, look for options that will allow them to exercise their mental muscles, such as puzzles, world-building games, and games with logic puzzles or problem-solving components.
Younger children, for example, may benefit from games like Toca Kitchen, which encourages them to be creative with wacky food combinations, or The Cat in the Hat Invents, which is a great game for aspiring engineers.
Minecraft is a fantastic game for older kids. The unrestricted worldbuilding encourages creativity and spatial awareness.
4. Install educational apps to motivate students to learn. Aside from games, there are a plethora of educational apps that cover everything from engineering to art. However, not all educational apps are the same. Look for apps that actively engage your child, are relevant to your child’s interests or experience, include an element of social interaction, and will not distract your child with an onslaught of advertisements and other distractions.
Social interaction does not always imply that your child will interact with other players online. This element could be introduced by your child interacting with animated characters in the app or by discussing the content with a family member, teacher, or friend.
Check out Common Sense Media’s list of great educational apps for some inspiration: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/lists/educational-apps-and-sites-with-strong-privacy-policies.
5. Get kid-friendly versions of popular media apps such as YouTube. Kids enjoy watching videos, but it can be difficult to ensure that they are not exposed to inappropriate content. One way to avoid this stumbling block is to use versions of popular media apps that have built-in filters to protect young viewers.
Install YouTube Kids on your child’s tablet, for example, and create a profile for them based on their age. You can also restrict certain videos and set time limits for how long they can use the app.
Other general media apps, such as Amazon Prime Video, have parental controls built in, allowing you to tailor them to your child’s needs.
6. Get your child a kid-friendly e-reader so he or she can read on the go. Installing a reading app on your child’s tablet is a more convenient alternative to lugging around a stack of books. Furthermore, if your child dislikes reading, there are many apps that can make it easier and more exciting for them by turning reading into a game! Look for an age-appropriate reading app that includes a large library of kid-friendly content.
Epic!, HOMER Reading, and Bookout are some popular choices.
Creative Commons License