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If you have young kids – or are close to someone who does – you probably know the story all too well. Try as you might to discourage it, this generation is obsessed with technology.

Leave your phone unattended for just a few minutes and you never know what might happen. At best you’ll return to a dozen blurry but cute selfies. At worst they’ll awkwardly FaceTime your ex-boss and then factory reset your device, wiping all your data.

Related reading: what’s the best tablet for kids?

Related reading: do kids really need an Apple Watch?

While we can’t prevent your toddler smearing peanut butter over the screen or dropping your iPhone down the toilet, changing a few simple settings can certainly grant you a little peace of mind next time you set them up to watch cartoons or play their favorite educational apps and games.

Set up guided access mode

Guided Access allows you to lock the device to a single app, preventing anyone from switching apps or returning to the Home Screen. Perfect for ensuring little fingers don’t start messing around in your important apps or changing your settings.

Open the Settings app and head to Accessibility > Guided Access. Toggle Guided Access on and choose a passcode that you won’t forget.

Once enabled, you can activate Guided Access with a quick triple-press of the Power button. Whichever app is currently open will stay that way until you triple-click again and enter your passcode to end the session.

Turn off auto wipe

If you’re potty training, auto wipe might sound like it would be a helpful function. But don’t be fooled, this anti-theft feature of iOS automatically deletes all your data if it suspects somebody is trying to unlawfully access your iPhone.

The problem is that the trigger for erasing everything is ten unsuccessful password attempts. This may be effective at stopping “brute force” hacking attempts, but it makes you extremely vulnerable to small children randomly bashing buttons on the Lock Screen. Ten wrong passwords can fly by in a matter of seconds, and if that happens you can say goodbye to everything stored on your device.

The solution? Go to Settings, then Touch ID & Passcode or Face ID & Passcode. Scroll to the bottom to check whether Erase Data is turned on. If it is, deactivate it pronto!

Change Lock Screen access levels

While we’re in the Passcode settings, there are more things we should probably change. In particular, look for the Allow Access When Locked section. This controls which features of iOS require authentication to use, and which don’t.

By default, you can speak to Siri, read notifications, and even reply to incoming messages – all without confirming who you are via password or Face ID. Take a view on which of these you’d like to be more secure and switch those toggles off.

Set Screen Time restrictions

Screen Time is a great way to keep tabs on your device usage, but unfortunately there’s no way to split the data into “me time” and “kids time” if you routinely share your iPhone with your children. So be wary that any settings you change will affect your own usage too.

That said, there are some handy things we can do here. Head to Settings > Screen Time and press App Limits. Here, you can create a custom group of all the apps your kids use and time limit their usage, which is useful for enforcing and tracking their screen time and will automatically lock all chosen apps when the limit is hit.

You can also block unsavory content if your kids are at an age where they use Safari to access the internet. From the Screen Time menu, choose Content & Privacy Restrictions > Content Restrictions > Web Content. Here you can choose to Limit Adult Websites or even create your own whitelist with Allowed Websites Only and block everything else.

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