Protect Your Gadgets from Your Kids

eHow Tech Blog

Kid with Tablet

If you have kids, you know that they’re naturally drawn to gadgets with buttons — or anything electronic, for that matter. Once they have that device in a death grip, it’s smashing time. That means you, parent and adult, need to take precautions, lest your iPad turns into a large, glossy coaster. Here are some tips to keep your gadgets (and sanity) intact:

Don’t give it to them. Obvious, sure, but this is the only 100 percent foolproof method of keeping your phone, tablet or computer safe from your kids: Keep them as far away from each other as possible. Of course, that’s easier said than done when you’re answering a phone call and your kid reaches over to chew on that attractive “chocolate bar” in your hand.

Consider a decoy. Tons of cheap toy iPhones and kid pseudo-laptops are available these days for the children not old enough yet to realize this is not the real thing. (Plenty of adults fall for knockoffs made overseas too.)

Add physical protection. At some point, your kids and your gadgets are going to collide. It might ruin the aesthetics, but a rugged case and a screen protector are essential accessories when you have kids. Kidproof cases tend to be bulky, rubbery, boldly colored ones, but they take a beating. They can withstand your everyday “oops, I didn’t mean to drop it” need-for-shock-absorption occasions. And screen protectors also keep scratches from little nails and teeth at bay.

Set up a separate account. Software hacks also help. The most important one, if available, is to create a separate, limited account for your child. On Windows and Mac, that’s easy: Set up a limited user account. Most Android tablets let you set up additional users as well, limited in their ability to change settings or install apps.

Add additional restrictions to their usage. The final level of protecting your gadgets from your kids is limiting what they can access. Unless you like seeing all your apps rearranged or unintended emails sent to random contacts when you get your tablet back, this is an important precaution. You can set the digital leash as long or short as you like for most devices.

  • Windows: Microsoft’s Family Safety site not only monitors a (Windows 8-connected) account’s activity and websites, but also restricts Windows Store downloads and set curfews.
  • Mac: OS X also has parental controls (under “System,” “Parental Controls”) where you set time limits, block apps and restrict website access.
  • Android: Android’s parental controls depend on the device you’re using. The Kindle, for example, can restrict in-app Amazon Appstore purchases.
  • iOS: In addition to the restrictions settings to control things like in-app purchasing and deleting apps, you can also use Guided Access on iOS (Under “Settings|General|Accessibility|Guided Access”) to restrict your kid to using one app only. Once set up, just launch an app, enter your passcode and your kid is effectively restrained from accessing any other part of the system, like the Mail or Settings app.

These precautions can’t guarantee your kids won’t be able to break through these barriers, but hopefully these methods will minimize any damage.

Photo credit: CrashTest_ (Flickr)

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