Using Guided Access and Screen Time to Prevent Exiting an App + preventing deleting apps, installing apps and in-app purchases

If you will be using an iPad with kids, then Guided Access and Screen Time are your new BFEs (Best. Features. Ever!). They can be used to disable the home button (or swiping to exit on devices without a home button), lock the child into an app, prevent access to specific apps, etc.. Especially critical if you will be using the iPad as an AAC device or using it in therapy with kids with poor impulse control.

*** Note: Which options you choose may depend on their age. If they are an older teen or adult, then it makes sense to have the iPad be open for multitasking (although most funding sources will require it to be locked/dedicated/managed in order to get it funded). If they are a young child, then we need to be mindful of safety. I would never hand a child a totally unlocked / unsecured iPad that then could access all of the internet. There are ways to pick an choose how secure an iPad needs to be by using a combo of Guided Access and Screen Time. It doesn’t have to be “all or nothing”. ***

See this info from Apple for the most current info and step by step directions: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202612

And info at:

How to Lock Into a Single App on iPhone & iPad with Guided Access

Nice tutorial from The TalkLink Trust about Guided Access: https://youtu.be/FlQODNugXxA

Unfortunately Guided Access automatically turns off when the iPad gets low on power. Even when it’s on it’s not hack-proof. So it’s important to backup any customized programming: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2021/03/21/backup-aac-customized-programming/

And there are a few important settings to adjust in order to prevent the AAC app (or any other apps) from being deleted. This is also where you need to toggle off the ability to download apps and the ability to make in-app purchases. Be sure to set a strong password.

Use Screen Time alongside Guided Access to provide even more control.

Apple – Use Screen Time on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208982

Nice tutorial from The TalkLink Trust about Screen Time. It’s more complicated that Guided Access but not hard to do once you get the hang of it. https://youtu.be/8EWNVcWWWVM

What happens after failed Screen Time passcode attempts: https://www.softwaredive.com/what-happens-after-10-failed-screen-time-passcode-attempts/

How to block deleting an app: https://osxdaily.com/2020/06/13/how-stop-deleting-apps-iphone-ipad-screen-time/

How to block installing apps: https://osxdaily.com/2020/07/13/how-prevent-app-installation-iphone-ipad-screen-time/

How to block in-app purchases: https://osxdaily.com/2020/05/22/how-turn-off-in-app-purchases-iphone-ipad-screen-time/

How to disable Safari browser: https://www.mobicip.com/content/how-do-i-disable-or-enable-safari-my-childs-iphone-or-ipad Note: iPads on a “managed” system will have even stronger ways to lock down the device. Check with the IT department in charge of that managed system to determine the options.


If you are using an Android tablet for AAC, learning or therapy, see this post about using Screen Pinning: https://www.lifewire.com/how-to-use-guided-access-android-4689158. There are also apps to lock the tablet into “kiosk mode” (like Guided Access on an iPad). This one is free and has pretty good reviews: SecureME – Android Kiosk Launcher Lockdown Pro: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.unfoldlabs.secureme. Another option is Fully Kiosk Browser & App Lockdown, https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=de.ozerov.fully&hl=en&gl=US. If those become unavailable, don’t work or you want other options, search for “Kiosk” to find similar apps in the Google Play App Store. Be sure to read through reviews and make sure it doesn’t have ads.

For Amazon Kindle Fire: Only some Kindle Fire devices have “app pinning” (Settings > Security > App Pinning) and unlike on other Android devices you can’t lock it with a PIN code so they can get out of it if they want to bad enough (to enable, load the app, hit the square button, scroll up and hit the thumbtack icon). Another option: Use a parental control app that lets you block specific apps so they can’t get in them. https://www.amazon.com/Wormhole-Space-App-Lock/dp/B078HN8ZQM?dchild


Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP, Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC, OMazing Kids AAC Consulting

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