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The internet can be a scary place for kids. Here are our top tips for keeping your family safe online.

Both Android and Apple phones have some great in-built parental control features. If you've set your phone up but feel you need more control, we've selected some top apps that can help you in your quest for safe surfing. 

Android

Screen pinning

If you’re temporarily handing your phone over to a niggly nephew to play a game or watch a video, screen pinning is very handy. It ‘pins’ your phone to that app (YouTube or Subway Surfer, for example), and won’t allow the user to get into anything else without a PIN.

To activate, go to Settings / Security / Screen pinning. The PIN will be the same as your usual screen lock PIN or pattern.

Then, load the app or game and tap the square Overview navigation button. This brings up the multitasking screen. Drag the app the child wants to use to the middle of the screen and tap the pin icon. He’ll be locked into that app until you press the Overview and Back buttons together and enter the PIN.

Create a new profile

If you want to keep apps like Angry Birds off your own profile, and your child away from your work email and social media, you can create a separate user profile. You just go to Settings / Users / Add user. To swap between your profiles, just drag from the top of the screen with two fingers and tap the avatar of the other user.

Go to Settings / Parental Controls and set age limits for Google Play content that is shown on that profile. That makes Google Play a great option to find content for kids – and you can add it to your Vodacom account.

On Android tablets, you can set up a user in Restricted mode, which allows you to control which apps your child can access.

iPhone

iPhone allows you to restrict certain apps like FaceTime and iTunes, and also allows you to restrict installing or deleting apps, or in-app purchases. You can also set age limits on content like films and books, and stop a child from changing location settings – useful if you’d prefer them not to post their location on social media or have it embedded in photos.

Simply go to Settings / General / Restrictions. Enable Restrictions, and choose your options from the list. You’ll need to set a PIN – make sure you remember it as otherwise you’ll have to erase your device and start again!

Apps to download

There are several really great Android apps available that take parental control to the next level. Kids Place can be configured for toddlers to teens, and allows you to create different profiles for more than one child. It’s an app launcher that only allows your child to see the apps you’ve approved, and blocks all in-app purchases and adverts. Plus, if you choose the paid version, you can set a timer that blocks the phone at certain times or after a certain period. You can even allow educational apps at homework time, and block all the games. 

Similar apps include Kids Zone and Screen Time Parental Control

Qustidio: Qustidio is a paid-for app (you’ll need to subscribe) but it has some great features. For example, it allows you to allot a time limit to specific apps, so you can allow your child more time on educational apps than games, for example. It monitors the activity on the device, and highlights anything ‘questionable’ for you to review. It’s available on Android, iOS and Windows devices – and even Kindle.

OpenDNS Family Shield: If you need a parental control app that works on your whole home network, including laptops, OpenDNS Family Shield could work for you. It blocks all sites it has marked as adult content, and proxy sites that your sneaky teen could be trying to use to access forbidden sites.

Read more on Safe smartphone use for kids here.  

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