The iPhone and iPad feature that every parent should know about

If you’re a parent of young children, chances are you’ve used your iPhone or iPad to babysit your kids more than once. 

But did you know each iPhone and iPad has a feature that allows you to hand the device to your child, and prevent them from leaving the app it is currently running?

You can even set a time limit on it, so the device will stop operating after however long you decide. 

It’s a brilliant feature for parents wanting to make sure little Johny doesn’t delete your emails while being entertained for 10 minutes while you’re at the doctors. Or if you have youtube addict kids like me, you can set the device to only allow, say, 30 minutes before shutting down. Enough to watch an episode of The Diamond Minecart, not enough to make them forget to go and bounce the basketball at some point. 

But the feature is also super useful for teachers who perhaps want their students to access a certain app during a test or exam, but not have access to, say, Google. 

Even stores and businesses who use iPads as displays or tools will find this feature handy, as it stops customers or staff from being able to access other apps.


Follow our step by step instructions below. It’s pretty much the same for iPad and iPhone, and iPod touch for that matter. 

Setting Up

1. Open the Settings app. 

2. Select General

3. Select Accessibility

4. Select Guided Access

5. Turn on Guided Access

It’s not essential to enter a passcode at this point. You will be prompted later. 

6. Select Time Limits

7. Time limit settings pertain to what happens when the time has expired in Guided Access. For example, later when you activate it, you can set the device to only function for 10 minutes, or however long you chose.

If you want a ring tone to sound at the end of the time, select Sound.

If you just want the device to speak at the end of the time, turn on Speak.

I’m turning on Speak.

Now your device is set up and Guided Access is ready to use whenever you want. Here's how to operate Guided Access once it's set up. 

8. Open the app you want your child to access. We’re going to use YouTube as an example right now. 

9. Triple click the home button. 

That means press it 3 times quickly. 

10. Select Options in the bottom left

11. Choose your settings

Sleep Wake Button - This operates the button that turns the device on or off. Do you want them to be able to do this? 

Volume Buttons - You can make it so they can’t turn the volume up at all if you need silence… and so they can’t turn it down either. Or allow them to have control over the volume. 

Motion - Turn this off if you don’t want them to be able to rotate the screen. Handy for little kids who may inadvertantly rotate the screen on their iPads. 

Keyboards - Turn this off to disable the ability to enter information via the keyboard

Touch - You may want to turn this off if you’re just giving the iPad to the child to watch a video, but don’t want them to be able to accidentally close it or skip around. If this is off touching the screen will do nothing. 

Time Limit - Turn this on and select how long you want Guided access to operate for. It can be as low as 1 minute, and as high as 23 hours and 59 minutes. If you leave this off, guided access will remain in operation until you deactivate it. 

12. Once you’ve chosen the settings you want, select Done.

13. Now draw on the screen with your finger around any area of the screen you do NOT want them to be able to operate. For example, there may be a menu within the app you don’t want them to be able to touch, but you’re happy for them to touch everywhere else on the screen. 

If you just draw a rough circle or square, your device will correct the outline and straighten it up a bit. You can then drag it to make it larger or move it as needed. 

If you’re fine with them touching all of the screen, you can skip this step.

14. Now you’re ready to go. Select Start or Resume.

15. Enter a passcode. Then re enter the passcode

16. Guided access started. Hand the device over, and rest assured that your precious emails won’t be deleted.

17. If the home button is pressed while in Guided Access mode, a warning appears at the top of the screen. 

Note: You can end Guided Access at any time by triple clicking the home button then entering the passcode. If the wrong passcode is entered, the user will be unable to try again for a short time. 

18. When time gets low, a warning appears. 

19. Once time is up the Time Expired screen appears and the device will no longer operate

20. You'll need to triple click the home button

21. Enter the passcode to end Guided Access mode

22. Now select End

23. Your phone is back to normal.

So if you've ever asked, 
"How can I set a timer on my iPhone or iPad?" or 
"How can I stop my kid from leaving the app they're in?" or 
"How do I lock the app on my iPhone or iPad?" or 
"How can I stop my kid from deleting things on my iPhone or iPad?" 
then Guided Access is the feature you need to know about.