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How to lock your iPhone screen when your kids watch videos

Don't let that angelic little face anywhere near your stored files or credit card.
By
December 26, 2023

A smartphone or tablet can keep kids occupied, but at the same time, the potential for havoc is huge. They might delete things, fill up your storage with photos or videos, or run up a huge credit card bill at the App Store. So if your kid wants to watch YouTube videos on your iPhone or iPad, here’s how to lock that app’s screen (or any other app) to prevent your child from exiting.

QUICK ANSWER

To lock an iPhone or iPad while your kids are watching videos:

  1. Go to Settings > Accessibility > Guided Access.
  2. Toggle the option on if it isn't already.
  3. Choose a passcode to stop your child exiting Guided Access, and use Display Auto-Lock to set how long it will take for auto-lock to kick in. Use Time Limits to help control session length.
  4. Open the video app in question and triple-press the side or home button, depending on your hardware.
  5. Select Guided Access. After it's configured and running, you can exit the same way you launched it.

How to lock your iPhone screen when your kids watch videos

The process is relatively simple, and restricts your child’s access to a single open app on your iPhone or iPad.

  • Go to Settings > Accessibility. Scroll towards the bottom of the page and select Guided Access.
  • Toggle on Guided Access. More options will appear.
  • Set a passcode under Passcode Settings to stop your kid from exiting the app without your permission. You can also enable Face ID or Touch ID if that’s more convenient.
  • Display Auto-Lock specifies a delay before your iPhone or iPad’s display auto-locks. Time Limits can define when a session is supposed to wrap up.
  • Go to the app you want your child to view. We’re using YouTube as an example.
  • Triple-press the side or home button, depending on your device. This opens a menu. Choose Guided Access.
  • Use onscreen options to disable various hardware and software buttons as necessary.
  • The app is now locked, and your child can use it. If they try to exit, they’ll be asked for a passcode or Face/Touch ID.
  • To end Guided Access, triple-press the same button you used to initiate it if you want to use a passcode. If Face ID or Touch ID is active, a double-press will do.

FAQs

Yes, just follow the tutorial shown here and activate Guided Access at the homescreen. Use your finger to draw circles around the homescreen buttons, deactivating them.

Just use the usual way to force-restart, which on most iPhones is holding down the side button and one of the volume buttons. Instructions differ on iPhones with dedicated home buttons.

If your iPhone’s battery dies, or you fully shut the phone down, Guided Access will need to be re-enabled.