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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 or iPhone screen, so kids stay within the app you want them to. Today we share how to use Guided Access feature to control kids’ screen time and app access, an important parental control feature that iOS has.

Beside tech tips, iGameMom shares fun STEM learning ideas for kids. If you would like to receive free learning ideas, sign up for iGameMom weekly email updates.

Easy way to lock iPAD screen so kids stay within the app

Helpful tech tips for parental control of screen time limit. How to lock iPAD iPhone Screen, so children stay within the app you want them to? - No More Accidental App Deletion or Unwanted App Re-arrangement!
What is Guided Access feature on 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 accidentally 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

RELATED: How to Lock iPad iPhone Screen Orientation during Movies so It Won’t Rotate

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. Go back to the Accessibility screen

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. Open an app to use the feature

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.

RELATED: How to Limit Screen Time on iPhone iPad – A Simple Feature on the Device

7. Stop the guided access feature

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!

How to lock iPAD or iPhone Screen, so Children Stay within the App You Want Them to? - No More Accidental App Deletion or Unwanted App Re-arrangement! -- very helpful iPhone iPad tips for parents.

If you find this is helpful, you may also want to know How to Limit Screen Time with a Simple Setting on iPhone iPad
limit screen time on iPad iPhone simple feature
How to Lock iPad Screen Orientation to Stop It from Rotating During Movies
How to lock screen orientation during movies kids ipad iphone
Having an iPad for young children, you will want to have wonderful apps for them. How about start with this: 10 Free Reading Apps That Continuously Offer Free Books for Kids, some offer free books weekly, some monthly.
reading programs continuously offer free digital books for kids - picture books and chapter books

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)

{ 141 comments… add one }
  • You have just saved my life! And my iPhone!

  • thanks for useful content

  • Sarah

    You have just saved my life! And my iPhone!

  • kamsmom17

    Thank you sooooooo much! I needed this info

  • Mistyeyed05

    This is exactly what I needed for my handicapped brother. He didn’t understand not to touch the screen or pushing the home button. So glad I found this info. Thanks for sharing.

  • Marko's mom

    This works ! You are the best!

  • Lisa Pudi

    Thank you so much. I am a teacher and I want my kids to stay on learning apps and not wander around the ipad or mess up my screens. I looked into this a couple of years ago and couldn’t find an answer, so thank you so much for your information. It gives me peace of mind when the kids are working on the ipad.

  • irena

    hello, my problem is that my home button doesnt work i use the assistive home button on the screen which i can not access to click three times to unlock the screen when the screen is locked. any suggestions?

    • Can you turn off the assistive feature temperately when you need this, and turn it back on afterwards?

  • Stoffe

    Love it! My son constantly exits apps, I didn´t know about this. 🙂

  • SRT

    I searched high and low in the App Store and came up short for a screen lock. My one year old loves my phone but constantly touches the screen and leaves the apps. This is EXACTLY what we needed! Thank you!

  • AJ

    Just wanted to say a quick thank you. Pages like this help me to stay sane as a parent! HAHA! Thanks again!

  • Evelyn

    Which iOS version does his apply to? I am using iPhone 6s with iOS 9.3.2 and cannot follow through the instruction. Please help.

  • Mohamed

    Genius, Very Good !!! i was searching a app in appstore for this, this helps me a lot to keep daughter playing with my phone.

    Thank you so much

  • Sam

    I rarely add comments but this was so helpful I had to say something. Thanks for this info it’s made it so easier for the little one to watch videos!

    • So glad this is helpful. I agree this is a very needed feature for those with young children.

  • katie

    omgsh thank you!! this was a lifesaver!!!

  • Jen

    Thank you SO much! We have an Ipad for our autistic daughter, and she is constantly moving from screen to screen when we want her to stay within one app. After accidentally spending a few dollars in the app store, we looked for an answer and found this — works perfect!!

  • Cherie

    I could not find a triple click home buttom on my sons ipad. Any suggestions

    • Which generation of iPad is it? what OS system are you using? Different OS system many have different layouts.

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  • Lindsay

    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,

  • Katie

    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.

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

  • Charolette

    It’s very easy to hit your iPhone and send it sliding off onto the ground. Child proof is always a good idea.

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  • Tanya Harper

    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 =)

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

  • Van

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

  • Ani M


  • Mrs. D

    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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  • Gina

    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.

  • Amy

    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!

    • 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.

  • Sara

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

    • 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.

      • Sara

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

        • 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!

  • Karen

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

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

  • Alaina Frederick

    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.

    • 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.

  • Justin Park

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

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

  • Jessica Homan

    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.

  • Emily Levitt

    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!

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

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