Toddler trick for your iOS devices

By Jen W. RSS Mon, November 4, 2013

I know there are guidelines that say to limit screentime for your kid, but there are some great apps that let a parent (or caregiver) and toddler interact together.  It is fun to draw together with Paint Sparkles (free as of 11/4/13) and discuss the colors and shapes we are using.  (Librarians have mixed opinions on this.)  And sometimes you need a distraction that is guaranteed to distract (try flying with your toddler without getting out the big guns, I dare you).  Chances are, if you are like me, you have tried handing off your iPhone or an iPod touch or an iPad to a todder and this happens:

  • Squeals of laugher for maybe 15 seconds
  • Tap...tap...
  • Crying because he pushed the home button and the Going to Bed Book app ($3.99 as of 11/1/13) closes
  • Oh no...he's rearranging your home screen...deleting your favorite apps...did he just text my mother?...
  • Hiding the phone where he can't see it while I try to get him to play with an empty Amazon box (all kids love boxes, right?)

But there is an awesome solution that I can't believe I did not know about until recently!  Apple has included in the Accessibility settings a feature called "Guided Access"

It is in Settings > General > Accessibility in the "Learning" section and is available for iOS 6 and above.  Turn it on and set up a password for yourself.  Then all you need to do is open any app that you want your kid to play with and triple-click the home button.  It locks the phone into that app and disables the home button until you put your passcode in again.  There is a great video from CNET that demonstrates more of the features.  I love that you can choose to turn off touch, so they can't keep pausing, rewinding, and skipping forward on a video by accident because they just want to keep tapping the screen (this happened ALL the time before Guided Access changed my life).

And this feature might be handy for older kids, too!  Make them finish reading a chapter of a book before they can play Tomb Raider 2.

What are your favorite apps for kids?

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