How To: Baby-proof your Android device

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By Francis D'sa /  06 Aug 2012 , 18:41

You just finished reading your newspaper whilst sipping on your morning coffee and now are unable to remember where you kept your phone. After a wild hunt, you figure out that your toddler has gotten hold of it and is enjoying scrolling through the app list. You have your fingers crossed praying that he hasn’t called someone or deleted something important. I bet most of you having a little one at home and are in a similar situation. So what do you do?

Children today are extremely intrigued with gadgets such as MP3 players, phones and tablets. Android phones and tablets are especially attractive because of the fun and interaction that lie in a touch-based user interface. However, since they obviously aren't capable of knowing which applications are important and which are not, they usually end up either accidentally calling or messaging someone from your contact list or in worst cases, deleting an important app, contact or widget. At times, they even manage to mess with the system settings such as switching the phone to flight mode, silent mode etc. and you might miss out on an important call, email or message or even worse, they may factory reset or format the memory card. All they like is to play around with the device and see the fluid motions of interface or just simply see the screen change as they slide their little fingers across the display. What we have noticed in a few toddlers is the scrolling lists in contacts, messaging, file managers and app drawers which they randomly scroll and click on it.

If you are in such a situation and don’t want to be setting up your phone all over again after they hand it back, you have a few choices. Either you give up the device to your toddler or buy one for him, or you can try these options out. These methods we've listed are also useful in case you want to keep some things private from prying eyes. You can lock the phone in such a way that no one can accidentally make or receive calls, send messages or texts or even disrupt the system settings. All you need is to make use of certain apps (free or paid) from Google Play, which can help you safeguard your phone from your junior and others. Here is a list of apps that will free up your worries when your toddler is handling it.

We recommend that you firstly create the necessary backups for all your data and applications and settings and then install the necessary apps for locking and entertainment.

1. Taking a nandroid backup and also backing up the data from your SD card from time to time is suggested. In extreme cases, if you forget to lock your phone and your toddler manages to delete apps, tweak some settings or even factory reset the device; you can always restore the unit back to normal. Make sure you have rooted your phone and installed a recovery utility on your phone in order to do a nandroid backup.

Make sure you have rooted your phone and installed a recovery utility on your phone in order to do a nandroid backup.

Make sure you have rooted your phone and installed a recovery utility on your phone in order to do a nandroid backup.

2. You should use a home launcher replacement which features an option to save and restore its settings. This helps very much because your toddler will tend to delete desktop icons, reposition them or add icon clutter to the desktop. Restoring the settings will get your home screen back to normal within a few seconds of restoring the launcher. Install backup utilities such as Titanium Backup, My Backup or Go Backup which can take necessary backups of the contacts, apps, app data, emails, system settings and a lot more, which can be restored whenever needed. Syncing your data online with Google or using Google Drive is also a good option to take data backups in case of a crashed phone, bad or formatted memory card or even worse, if the phone is lost or physically damaged.

Install backup utilities such as Titanium Backup, My Backup or Go Backup to take necessary backups.

Install backup utilities such as Titanium Backup, My Backup or Go Backup to take necessary backups.

3. Use an app locker utility to partially lock your phone. App Lock is a free utility available on Google Play and can be configured to lock certain or all apps with a unique password. The utility protects apps with an alpha-numerical password or pattern. App Lock is very simple to configure—enter a locking password and pattern, and then select the apps that you need to be locked—you’re done. You can then opt to place a widget on your desktop and just a simple click on the widget will instantly lock the apps you selected within seconds. In case you need to unlock all apps, you can tap the widget again to unlock them or simply open individual apps that you require with the given password. You can choose to only lock sensitive apps, while leaving other regular apps unlocked. Ideally, we recommend locking crucial ones and leaving the media player, photo gallery and a few games open for your little one to play around with. Using this utility should protect the system settings, mails, Play Store, messaging, calls, apps and a lot more. Other apps that can also secure your phone in the same manner are available on the Play Store. Free ones include Fast App Lock, Perfect App Protector, Smart App Protector, while paid ones such as App Protector Pro feature a few other included functions, for example, password recovery and plug-ins.

App Lock is free and can be configured to lock certain or all apps with a unique password.

App Lock is free and can be configured to lock certain or all apps with a unique password.

4. Toddler Lock is a nice little pass time app for kids and locks the phone completely. Once activated the display changes to colourful graphics and soothing sounds to keep your kids entertained without having to worry about them making calls or starting other apps. It features shapes and colours keeping the kid entertained, and he/she cannot unlock it in any way. Optionally, you can configure the app to automatically switch to flight mode. To unlock, simply touch the four corners of the display screen in a clock-wise manner and your phone is now ready to use.

Toddler Lock is a nice little pass time app for kids and locks the phone completely.

Toddler Lock is a nice little pass time app for kids and locks the phone completely.

5. Install fun apps for your little one to keep them engrossed in it and dissuade them from clicking on important apps. Installing learning apps and fun games is the best option. Check which one your toddler likes most and get them on your phone. The best idea is to make shortcuts of the apps on the desktop itself, so they can keep away from the app drawer.

Install fun apps for your little one to keep them engrossed in it and dissuade them from clicking on important apps.

Install fun apps for your little one to keep them engrossed in it and dissuade them from clicking on important apps

Other apps for entertainment and learning are also available for kids on the Play Store.

Other apps for entertainment and learning are also available for kids on the Play Store

There are many other methods to safeguard your phone. If you find any more, feel free to add to the list in the comments section.


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