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How to Protect Kids on Android Devices

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The Heritage Foundation gives Android devices a child safety rating of D.

Safety Rating Explanation: Android has weak supervision features and requires a higher level of technical ability to navigate, making it less than ideal for parents looking to keep their kids safe online.

What Is Android?

Android is a software made by Google that is used in many smartphones and tablets. While devices that run Android offer generally similar functionality to iPhones and iPads, Android can also be integrated into other products, like TVs and smartwatches. Android software is available on devices made by several manufacturers, including Google and Samsung.

What Is Google Play?

Google Play is a digital store for Android users, offering a wide array of apps, games, and digital content.

What Is Sideloading?

Sideloading means installing apps on your Android device from places other than Google Play. The process is akin to downloading third-party software from the Internet on your computer. However, sideloading carries the risk of exposing children to harmful content and endangers their data privacy, as these applications are not subject to any approval or review process.

How Restrictive Is the Android Experience?

The user experience of Android is notorious for being less restrictive than the Apple experience. While Android devices are beneficial for people who are looking for more customizability, they present far more risk from a parents’ perspective. Because of sideloading, Android’s parental oversight functions are less effective than those built into iOS.

How to Control the Settings in Your Children’s Android Devices

  1. Open the Google Play app. Tap the Profile icon, then “Settings,” “Family,” and “Parental controls.” Turn on “Parental controls” and create a PIN that your child will not know. Select which type of content you would like to filter.
  2. Within “Parental controls,” you can modify the settings for games, movies, TV shows, and books. However, there is no way to prevent sideloading applications that are blocked within the Google Play store, as there are multiple points of failure.
  3. To learn how to adjust the full range of Android safety settings, click on the Google Play settings here.

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