There are ways and means, built into your device’s operating system, of ensuring your children don’t come across sensitive information when they are using your phone.

Children are fascinated by smartphones and tablets – particularly when they belong to other people. If you’re concerned by the possibility that your kids may stumble on private or sensitive information while using your phone, there are some easy steps you can take to protect your device, using built-in operating system features.

The first thing to do is set a passcode or pattern lock on your device, but older children are likely to figure this out before long, and it might not be practical for you to change your passcode frequently.

If you don’t want your kid gaining access to banking apps, don’t let your handset or mobile browser save any passwords. Where possible, either make use of fingerprint technology or ensure your apps require passwords.

If you’re on iOS, there are preventative measures you can take so your kids don’t accidentally spend money on your credit card through in-app purchases, or even access restricted content.

To do this, you need to “Enable Restrictions” under Settings. You will need a PIN code to make changes and in here, you can select apps that won’t be visible to your child. These include Safari, Camera, FaceTime, iTunes, as well as processes such as in-app purchases and installing/deleting apps. This allows you to compltely customise your handset so that it is child-safe.

Before you allow your children to play games on your device, it is worth disabling WiFi, even if you have to select “Forget this network” so it won’t automatically join without re-entering a password, and to turn off mobile data. This will ensure you don’t get notifications from any other app, and there is no chance your child will accidentally clicking on a new email or message. You can also turn on Do Not Disturb or disable Control Centre.

The best way to child-proof a tablet running Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and upwards, is to create multiple user accounts. It’s also a great way for a family to share an Android tablet. To set up an account for your child, go to “Settings”, and under the “Device” tab you will see “Users”. Click to add another user and you will be given two options. You can either allow a user have their own apps (suggested for teenagers) or you can create a restricted profile (suggested for children). The latter option gives you control over what appears on this profile, so you can load it with child-friendly games and disable apps loaded on to your own account.

You can do the same on smartphones, where the “User” tab is located under “Personal”.

Although a restricted profile does not allow you to download apps from the Google Play Store, you can enable this by using the password, and make purchases.

If you feel your child is old enough to use your own profile, you can download an app called “App Lock” from the Google Play Store. It lets you lock content like your SMSs, Contacts, Gmail, Facebook, Gallery, Calls, Settings, etc and allows you to hide pictures and videos.

Windows Phone
The most child-friendly mobile operating system is Windows Phone. The feature comes built-into the device, known as “Kid’s Corner”. You don’t have to worry about downloading any additional apps or playing around various settings.

It’s as simple as going to “Settings” and then to “Kids Corner”. You will be prompted to go into Games, Music, Videos and Apps to add content for the profile. You will need a lock screen password, as it is required to exit this mode.

BlackBerry is known to have tight security controls. If you are running BB 7.1 and upwards, go to Options > Security > Parental Controls and “enable” to activate it. This means restrictions are placed on incoming calls, text messages, Bluetooth File Transfer, any location-based service, browser, app installations, email, camera and social apps, including BBM.

To toggle between these settings, you will be prompted for a four-digit PIN.

If you are running BB10, the settings are very similar to BB7. Go to Settings > Security and Privacy > Parental Controls and it should work as above. However, you can further restrict content from BlackBerry World with BB10, based on content ratings.

We hope you found these security measures useful. Remember, it’s ok to play bad cop every now and then.

Originally published in issue 1 of Telkom’s new digital magazine, Future Now, which can be found here: