Making your smartphone kid-friendly

Keeping a constant eye on your child while they are borrowing your phone is not easy. A few tweaks and tricks, and they are ready for your kid

Kid or Child mode feature was first seen in Windows Phones. Photo: iStockPhotos
Kid or Child mode feature was first seen in Windows Phones. Photo: iStockPhotos

A lot of smartphone and tablet users are sharing these gadgets with their young children, at least at some point during the day. It could be a YouTube video for kids, to help get through the daily rigmarole of dinner in peace. Or it could be to play games while the parents attend to guests or even for simply browsing the web.

While it is one thing to limit the screen time for the little ones, but the other big stress still remains the quality of content they may start accessing.

And here is how you can deal with the daily challenge.

Managing accidental video discovery

Most young children simply love video streaming sites such as YouTube for the sheer collection of rhymes, cartoons and funny videos it carries. In case your child spends time on YouTube, it is better to take a few measures that would block adult content flagged by other users or YouTube’s own algorithm as inappropriate from showing on the search results. To enable this feature, tap on three dots icon on the top right hand side of the home page, and select Settings->General-> enable Restricted Mode.

Similarly, popular video streaming service Netflix is another platform which has a wide and refreshing library of animated movies for children which you won’t get on YouTube. Netflix has the option where you can create a separate profile for children. Opening Netflix with this profile will only show those movies and series which has no explicit content in them. This section is specially designed for kids. To enable it, go to menu page on Netflix by swiping left to right and tap on the arrow icon on top and select add profile with kids box checked.

Web browsing made safer

Most youngsters don’t look beyond games and videos, but they are observant. Web browsing is still mostly used by adults, a lot of children are taking up to it to learn new things or for help in school work. Though the browser is likely to show result based on what has been searched, children may not know which site carries malwares and can harm the phone. It is better to look for features such as safe browsing in browser’s settings of whichever browser you are using and activate them. You can also put an anti-virus with web features enabled, so they can send out a warning in case the site is potentially harmful.

Playing games

Unlike the App Store, Google Play Store has a lot of unwarranted or fake apps. A child can’t tell a fake one from the original. A lot of these apps carry explicit images and text. To restrict content on Google Play, go to Settings ->Parental controls and enable it. Once enabled, it will ask you set a four digit number pin. Google Play classifies all apps based on age groups. Parents can check in with the age group which are more suitable for the child and the Play Store will hide everything except the apps suitable for the child’s age group.

The health angle

Exposing children to smartphone screen at a tender age can be bad for eyes, especially if they over do it or are holding it too close to their eyes. With Samsung’s Safety Screen app (available for all Android smartphones) you won’t have to constantly remind you children about the ideal distance they should maintain while using a smartphone. The app uses the phone’s front camera to assess the optimal distance from the screen and the moment the child comes closer to the screen, the app will block a major part of the display with a warning sign. It goes away only when the child maintains the minimum distance again.

Smartphones with Kid’s mode

A lot of smartphones have features such as Kid or Child mode. While the feature was first seen in Windows Phones, it is now available in a number of Android smartphones too. Xiaomi is one of the leading phone makers who have this feature built into their smartphone. This mode will lock out every other app on the phone barring the apps and games that you have set aside for your child. This feature is available in Redmi Note 3, Redmi 3s/3s Prime and MI 5.

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