Picture the scene. It’s two minutes after the school run and you’re walking down the road to your local coffee house. You’re nattering to your best friend who you haven’t seen for yonks. Your two darling children, dressed in school uniform, ink, paint and random bits of Babybel, are scooting somewhere behind you. You enter the coffee house, order two Americanos and two free Babycinos and…
“MUM! CAN I HAVE A GO ON THE IPHONE?!”
Now, if it was the family iPad currently left at home, that would be fine because you’ve just locked down all the privacy settings as per our guide to online safety, right?
And if it were your older child’s hand-me-down PAYG phone, you’d have done the same, right?
But no. This is your phone. Your phone with your Inbox, your Messages, your Whatsapp, your Photos and your everything. Do you want your seven-year old looking at… Well, whatever it is you have in those various apps, you don’t want them looking at it let alone shopping on Amazon, watching YouTube without wifi or deciding to send everyone in your Gmail a message entitled ‘Look at my bum!!!!!’.
Clash of Clans? Fine. Randomly calling your new boss? Not so fine.
And I am here to tell you – it doesn’t have to happen!
Guided Access. This amazing function was shared with me by another parent and I couldn’t believe it wasn’t better known. When you switch on GA (found in Settings > General > Accessibility > Guided Access for iPad and iPhone) you can choose to temporarily restrict access to a single app. So if, like me, you think your precious kid is watching something wholesome on the BBC or getting a bit of extra schoolwork in with Reading Eggs only to find they’re watching unboxing videos on YouTube, Guided Access fixes this. They can only access the app they’re in, the app that you’ve set.
Or, you can disable various parts of the screen, e.g. the in-app purchasing or buttons they accidentally but frustratingly press repeatedly, thus requiring your assistance every ten seconds.
Or, you can put a timer on the app which automatically cuts out when the countdown is complete – particularly useful for those of us who say ‘yes, yes, you can ONLY have half an hour though’ only to forget what we said and when, or get distracted with our own tasks.
All of these functions can be set with a passcode and it’s easy to switch GA on – just a triple-click of the home button once you’ve switched it on in Settings.
Honestly, this one is LIFE CHANGING, I tell you! Say hello to technology as babysitter 2.0.