How to Keep Kids Out of Your Stuff With Android Guest Mode

As kids develop motor skills and finger dexterity, they already know how to manipulate an android phone. Its like they were born with knowledge on how to use a phone. They are constantly asking to use our phones, whether its to play a game, watch a video on a long car ride, or whatever the case may be. The best thing to do is to buy a kids tablet for them. But if you can’t afford one, there are some tricks or tips to avoid their click-happy fingers from deleting your stuff or making purchases in their favorite game. Some of these tips or parent-friendly features are build into android (lollipop and up) so you don’t need to install applications for this.
These features are “Guest Mode” and “Screen Pinning”.

Let’s learn about these features and how you can turn them on to help maintain your sanity:

These features require that your device has Android 5.0 (or later) OS installed. However, they should apply no matter who made your Android phone: Samsung, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc.

Guest Mode

The new guest mode feature allows you to have a generic user profile that your kids (or anyone else who needs to use your phone for something) can use. This profile is isolated from your personal profile so they can’t see or mess with any of your data, pictures, videos, not even your apps. They can install apps from the Google Play store and if the app is already on your phone, it will be copied to the guest profile (instead of having to download it again).

In addition to the Guest profile, you could actually create personal profiles for each of your kids so they can have their own set of apps, wallpapers, and other customizations.

To Set up Guest Mode

  1. From the top of the screen, swipe down to reveal the notifications bar.
  2. Double-tap your profile image from the top-right corner. Three icons will appear, your Google account, “Add guest” and “Add user”.
  3. Select the “Add guest” option.
  4. Once you’ve selected the “Add guest” option, your device will probably take a couple of minutes to complete the Guest Mode setup process.
    After it’s enabled, the easiest way to switch to the Guest account is to swipe down the notification shade and tap the profile icon and then tap on the Guest profile. You’ll see “Switching to guest” message and after a few seconds and then see a fresh and clean Android home screen. Then you can hand it off to the person who needs to borrow it. To switch back, pull down the notification shade, tap the user profile icon, and then your account or remove the Guest account. Guest accounts aren’t available on all Android phones. However, if your device is running Android 5.0 Lollipop or higher, chances are you have it. The steps for using it may vary depending on your device and the version of Android it’s running. For example, below I am using a phone running Android 6.0 Marshmallow and needed to edit the Quick Settings menu first before being able to access it. If you’re using a Samsung phone, you know how the company loads its phones up with proprietary software, so you might need to do a bit more digging to find the Guest account feature.

Screen Pinning

Sometimes you need to hand your phone to someone to show them something but you don’t want them to be able to exit the app and start nosing through your stuff. Maybe you want to let your kid play a game but don’t want to give them to be able to leave the game and mess with your phone. For situations such as these, the new Screen Pinning mode is an ideal solution.

Screen pinning allows you to make it so that the current application doesn’t allow the user to exit it without unlocking the phone. They can use the app that is “pinned” in place, they just can’t exit the app without the unlock code:

To Set up Screen Pinning

  1. From the top of the screen, swipe down to reveal the notifications bar.
  2. Tap the date & time area of the notification bar, then tap the gear icon to open the Settings screen.
  3. From the “Settings” screen tap “Security” > “Advanced” > “Screen Pinning” > and then set the switch to the “ON” position.

Once you have enabled the pinning option, click on the multitask button to apps that are running. The app pinning button will be located at the bottom of the multitask card of the app. Simply click on it to pin said app. To exit the pinned app mode may vary with different phones. On mine, you have to simultaneously click and hold on both the multitask and back button to exit.


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