Thursday, December 5, 2013

How to Lock Your iPhone or iPad so Kids Have to Stay in an App (in 3 Easy Steps)

If I had a dollar for every time I complained to my sister that iPhones should have more parental controls, I might be as rich as the Woz himself. I desperately wanted my toddler to be able to FaceTime with his out-of-state grandparents without him constantly hanging up. Not to mention wanting to let him play his alphabet app without him calling people in my contact list (he's done that more times than I'd like to admit). Guess what--there is a way! And once you've set it up, it's takes about two seconds to do.

NOTE: it helps to lock the orientation of the phone/iPad. To do this: Swipe up from the bottom of the bottom of your screen to open the Control Center and tap on the Portrait Orientation Lock symbol.

How to lock your iPhone/iPad so your kids have to STAY IN AN APP


How to disable parts of the screen (e.g. So they can't hang up on FaceTime or click on ad bars).

My little guy using my iPhone. That OtterBox case has paid for itself MANY times. :)
(Note: If you're reading this on your phone, you can Pin this for later so you don't have to go back and forth between screens.)

Step (1):

Go to Settings--> General--> Accessibility. Scroll towards the bottom and click "Guided Access." Within that screen, turn "Guided Access" to ON. Then turn "Accessibility Shortcut" to ON. Within that same Guided Access screen, click "Set Passcode." (This way even your tech-savvy kids will need your passcode to get out of an app.)

Step (2):

Go to the app you want your child to use. Once you're in that app, press the Home button three times (the "Home" button is the big circle below your screen).

Step (3):

The guided access bars will come up on the top and bottom of your screen. You now have two options:

(a) To Disable a Particular Part of the Screen: (e.g. To temporarily disable the FaceTime "End" button so conversations aren't inadvertently ended early):
Circle any areas of the screen you want to disable (I circled both the mute and end buttons), then click "Start" on the top bar. These settings will be saved for that particular app, so next time you're FaceTiming and want to disable the End button, click the home button three times and you're set.
To later change your settings (e.g. to change which parts of the screen are disabled), simply press the Home button three times (again), enter your passcode, and then you can change the disabled areas of the screen.

(b) To Simply Prevent Your Child From Exiting That App:
On the top bar, click "Start." Enter the passcode you set up in Step 1. Success! Your child is now unable to exit that app.


Click the home button three times. Enter the passcode you set up in Step 1. On the top left bar, click "End." The Guided Access is now ended and you can navigate to any part of your phone as usual.

Any questions? Post in the comments and we'll get back to you ASAP.

Revel in your new-found iPhone Parental Controls.

Done! In the future, locking apps will only take a couple seconds. You're welcome. Feel free to thank us by "liking" our Facebook page or by pinning this page on Pinterest. Or if you want more tips from us (our blog is equal parts money advice and mom advice), feel free to subscribe by adding Money Hip Mamas to your readers or subscribe by e-mail.


  1. You have just changed my life! Thanks!!

  2. Lisa, This might just be the most amazing thing I have learned this year. I love you!

  3. Thanks for the comments, everyone! I'm so excited I could share this tip--it's so helpful!

  4. thank you for posting this!!!

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Hi,i have little bit.You can bolt the screen introduction on your iPhone rapidly and effectively in Control Center.Swipe up from the bottom of your screen to open Control Center and tap on the Portrait Orientation Lock symbol.Your telephone's introduction will now stay secured picture mode until you turn Portrait Orientation Lock off. There is no alternative for securing your iPhone screen scene mode.Have a nice day.

  7. you have just made everything in my life ok!! lol. maybe now I can get some homework done while my daughter learns!!!

  8. Lisa,
    Have you been able to disable the FaceTime buttons on an iPad running iOS 8? I can get the gray circle over the buttons, but they are still active.


    1. I actually don't have iOS 8. You'll have to experiment with it and let us know!

  9. Same for me -- for whatever reason, it's not possible to lock these on iOS8. Bummer!


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