How to lock iPAD / iPhone screen so kids stay within the app?

iPhone iPAD Tips

Since I posted How to Child-proof iPAD, I received so many questions asking how to lock iPAD screen, so kids stay within the app you want them to play. Now we found the solution – Daisy Simpson, our new reviewer at iGameMom is going to share the trick with you.

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How to lock iPAD screen so kids stay within the app

How to lock iPAD Screen

I am so happy to have discovered the new Guided Access feature on my iPhone/iPad.  Has your child been in the middle of a game, only to touch the home button then get back to the home screen and suddenly all your apps are bouncing and ready to be deleted? My son loves to press the home button, over and over and over. Although he loves it, I’m not a fan because then my apps are in jeopardy of getting re-arranged or deleted, not good for my type A organized phone. Or has your child accidently touched that annoying ad in the corner of the game, prompting another window to open up interrupting their game? Guided access is a great fix for that and can be accessed through the general settings.

1. Go to Settings on your iPhone or iPAD:How to lock iPAD or iPhone Screen - Step 1

2. Go to General, then choose Accessibility (click on image to have a larger view of the picture):
How to lock iPAD or iPhone Screen - Step 2

3. In Accessibility, find the selection box under Learning titled Guided Access; you will want to turn this ON.
How to lock iPAD or iPhone Screen - Step 3

4. You will need to set a passcode. (Now if you have older kids this might not be the solution you are looking for, but also with older kids they are probably not constantly clicking the home button. No matter the age it is nice to block off those annoying ads)
How to lock iPAD or iPhone Screen - Step 4

5. Once that is on go back to the Accessibility screen by tapping Accessibility at the top-left corner of the screen.  Make sure Guided Access is selected for Triple-click the home Button.

How to lock iPAD or iPhone Screen - Step 5

6. Now that guided access is enabled.  Open up any app you want your child to play with. Triple click the home button and a new screen pops up that allows you to adjust the guided access for that specific app:
How to lock iPAD or iPhone Screen - Step 6

At the bottom of the screen, you have the option to turn hardware buttons off, turn touch on or off (I leave this on as the game needs to be able to touch around within the app) and motion on or off (I also leave this on). While in guided access, if you circle any area a grayed out box will appear, as shown in the picture above (see the little box with a small “x” on top-left corner).  This area will now become unclickable when guided access is turned on. This is a great tool to use over those annoy ads or maybe the play/pause buttons of a movie app. If you want to change this grey coverage, there is a little ‘x’ you can click to delete that selection and make a new selection. Once all your settings are the way you want them, select the blue Start button at the top-right corner and the app will resume as normal.

7. When your child is finished playing with that app, you triple click your home button, but this time since guided access is turned on you have to put in your passcode.  Once you type in your passcode you can select End if you are finished, or make changes and select resume to continue with the guided access on.  After you hit end you are able to click the home button and return to your home screen.
How to lock iPAD or iPhone Screen - Step 7

I hope you can get as much use out of this feature as I have!

What a helpful tip for all the parents! If you find this helpful, I am sure you want to check out how to quickly Child-proof iPAD.

Five minutes Child Proof iPAD

Here are some more iPAD child-safety articles.  Make sure check these articles too:
How to choose baby friendly iPAD cases
How to choose kids friendly iPAD cases
How to minimize surprising iTune bills
How to set up an iTune account without a credit card (as a way to manage iTune spending)

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Do popups for text messages or incoming calls appear on the screen when locked the way you’ve described? Fear of my little dude answering an important call or replying to a text.

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Lindsay November 29, 2013 at 8:32 am

I am trying to lock my iPad screen so my son (9 months) doesn’t keep hitting the screen while he is watching a movie. I tried to follow the instructions but in my settings under general settings I don’t have an accessibility tab. Do you have any other suggestions?
Thank you,
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iGameMom November 29, 2013 at 8:42 am

It is only available on iOS6 and later.

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Katie November 27, 2013 at 10:43 pm

I like this app. However, I think apple should make an app that allows access to multiple apps like android has the kids place. That way they can change the apps to different learning techniques or stories that are added. However, not having that kind of app the guided access is a good tool to use with kids.

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iGameMom November 28, 2013 at 11:16 am

I like that feature on Android devices too. Hope Apple will add that feature soon.

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Yeah! Glad it works.

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Tanya Harper September 13, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Thank you so much! Now my 20mth old son and 4 year girl can now play on the iphone4s an not having mommy worry so much that they would erase something! Thanks again =)

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iGameMom September 14, 2013 at 4:31 pm

you are welcome. Looks like iOS7 has some new features that is even better. Have to check it out and share with everyone.

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Van September 6, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Is there anyway to do this on the 1st generation i-Pad without the guided access feature, and without blocking off the home button?

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iGameMom September 12, 2013 at 1:30 am

Not what I know of.

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Ani M July 26, 2013 at 12:36 pm

THANKS!!!!

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Mrs. D July 24, 2013 at 11:36 pm

Thank you so much!! I’ve been trying to find a way to do this with my grand kids!! Have all these apps for them, but they get out and get in to my other apps. Hope this works for them!

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It is a great feature. Hope it will help.

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iGameMom June 13, 2013 at 11:45 pm

Thanks for the note. I will look into it.

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iGameMom June 13, 2013 at 11:51 pm

I am glad to find it too.

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Gina May 30, 2013 at 8:07 pm

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I have always said there has to be a way to do this. I am so excited to finally know how to do it…my 2 year old probably won’t be as excited.

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iGameMom June 6, 2013 at 5:00 pm

It is a great feature they added.

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Amy March 25, 2013 at 10:24 am

Thank you for your post! I am a kindergarten teacher and would like to lock my students in a folder. Is there a way to keep them in a folder so that they can only play certain games?
Thanks again!

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iGameMom March 26, 2013 at 12:42 am

I am not aware of a feature like that for iPAD. Windows phone has that feature. For iPAD, one solution (I know it is not ideal) is to put their apps on one page, and tell them that page is the only page they can be on. I will keep my eyes open, and if I found anything, I will share.

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Sara March 20, 2013 at 9:56 pm

What if your iPod doesn’t have the guited acces?

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iGameMom March 26, 2013 at 12:06 am

it is a great questions. For younger kids, I suggest getting a case cover the home button. If they can’t press the home button, they won’t be able to get out of the app. For school age kids, if you follow the steps on How to Child Proof iPAD, and talk to them about not moving apps, and not spending real money, they should be able to understand.

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Sara March 31, 2013 at 10:40 am

What if u have a little kid that’s really smart?

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iGameMom April 3, 2013 at 3:33 pm

If the kid is smart enough to get out of this, parents / care givers should find ways to help him/her understand why and how not to move and delete apps, etc. Good luck!

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Karen March 7, 2013 at 8:10 pm

This is awesome. And it works. Exactly what I was looking for.

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iGameMom March 16, 2013 at 3:42 pm

Great. It is a great feeling know our tips helped other parents.

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Alaina Frederick February 27, 2013 at 9:21 am

Thank you for sharing this tutorial. I however can not use this trick on my iPad. I have the most recent software but I’m wondering if because I have the original iPad that this feature is not on here.

Total bummer too as this is my biggest issue with the iPad the inability to lock kids out of certain apps and grant access to others.

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iGameMom March 6, 2013 at 5:21 pm

If you have the original iPAD, more than likely you are not on iOS6. iOS5 is the latest the original iPAD can get. I think this feature works on iOS6.

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Justin Park February 21, 2013 at 6:31 am

I think your information helps parents to keep their children off guard from iPad and iPhone addiction.

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iGameMom February 25, 2013 at 8:41 pm

That is another positive effect I did not think about. We should all thank Daisy for writing a clear guide!

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Jessica Homan on Facebook February 20, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Thank you so much for the tutorial. I have wanted to know how to do this for awhile. :) I will be sharing this with friends for sure.

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Emily Levitt February 20, 2013 at 10:53 am

Thanks for continuing to post such helpful and interesting information! As a mom and a member of the ed tech community, I find a lot to enjoy here. Keep up the good work!

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iGameMom February 20, 2013 at 10:15 pm

Thank you Emily. It is a pleasure to see someone from the edtech community.

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