Recently, my assistant approached me about a certain Android tablet. Of course, the question was, “is [off brand tablet] good?” And of course, I’d never heard of the off-brand tablet. The purpose of my assistant’s request was to get a tablet for her 3 year-old son, and the off-brand tablet promised “kid controls” and “parent protection.” I really questioned my assistant’s decision, especially since she received the Nexus 7 tablet for Christmas last year.
The best part of Android is multiple user accounts
Okay well, maybe they’re not the best part, but if your tablet runs any version of Android above 4.2, then you have the ability to set up various user accounts. As I explained to my assistant, she could set up a user account for her son that would only allow particular apps.
Android 4.2 really revolutionized how people can interact and protect their Android devices. The introduction of user accounts means that multiple people can all use the same tablet. In my house, that means the kids have their own account with specific apps (mostly games).
The separate account gives the users an ability to add the apps (you) they want, set the features they want, and enjoy the Android experience.
Making multiple user accounts happen
Setting up the account is quite easy.
Click Users under Device.
After you click Add user or profile, you’ll have the option of setting up two different types of user profiles: restricted and regular.
My assistant will use the restricted profile to keep her son from accessing inappropriate apps.
A few words about user settings
Remember, only restricted profiles will allow you to control what content is available on the user’s account.
The Application and content restrictions screen will give you the ability to turn “on” or “off” particular apps already installed on your Android tablet.
Simply click the on/off button to allow the user to access the app.
Making user accounts work
Here are a few tips for making good use of user accounts, and possibly limiting some frustration for you.
First, these tips only apply to restricted profiles. Regular user accounts function like the main user’s account, except the original user controls what accounts are on the device.
Second, the restricted profile will still have access to some settings, such as location or applications (to uninstall apps from the profile). Android restricts access to core processes, but you need to know the user can modify some settings.
Third, even with restricted accounts enabled, you should still monitor the types of apps your kids have access to. Further, Android 4.3+ gives you greater “tuning” ability for particular app settings, but the developer still needs to enable that feature.
Finally, I recommend that you restrict any Google Play purchases and require that you enter a password. You can set up that restriction by clicking Use password to restrict purchases in Google Play settings (Google Play > Menu > Settings).
That setting will help limit (or eliminate) costly, unapproved app purchases. Note: a restricted profile shouldn’t be able to download and install apps, but just in case.
Getting a good tablet means good results
Hopefully, my assistant will read this post and make the most of the awesome tablet she already has. User profiles give Android
devices [edit: tablets] running Android 4.2 a greater advantage over older models. If you’re looking for a way to give your kids a tablet, why not restrict a profile on the one you have?
Update (for clarity): user profiles are only available for non-cellular Android 4.2+ tablets.