Decisions about when and how to secure devices need to be made based on individual needs, age of the user, how long they have been using AAC, etc… The needs of a young child first learning how to use AAC are very different from the needs of an older teen or adult who uses tech to multitask.
I would never hand a young child a totally unlocked / unsecured iPad, tablet, smartphone, laptop or any other tech that then could access all of the internet. There are several reasons why that could be very risky.
Follow the National Online Safety page to see info about specific risks: https://www.facebook.com/NationalOnlineSafety. Website: https://nationalcollege.com/channels/national-online-safety
You also need to consider financial risks. Several years ago I had a patient who had run up over $1,000 in credit card charges making app purchases and in-app purchases on the parent’s unsecured iPad. Fortunately they were eventually able to get it refunded but that’s not always the case.
There are ways to choose how secure a device needs to be by using a combo of options. It doesn’t have to be “all or nothing”.
Please also consider neurodiversity affirming practices. Screen time can be an important source of joy and self-regulation. See this post by NeuroWild: https://www.facebook.com/100087870753308/posts/pfbid02MBLZjbgK9HKL2giJDmtnSBaSckjGb5WdxqNeqRJjqH2iZLFMXne2RPYdB5hJMPbql/?mibextid=cr9u03
Also see this written info from Apple for the most current info and step by step directions: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202612 . Written info from Apple in Spanish: https://support.apple.com/es-us/HT202612.
Note: It took quite a bit of digging but I discovered that you can view the official Apple website in numerous different languages. See my video:
More info about Guided Access at: https://osxdaily.com/2021/03/18/how-lock-single-app-iphone-ipad-guided-access/
Nice video tutorial from The TalkLink Trust about Guided Access:
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/
Looking for something more secure than Guided Access? It’s possible to put an iPad into Kiosk Mode (more secure than Guided Access but more complicated to do): https://www.addictivetips.com/ios/ipad-kiosk-mode/amp/. Apple: https://support.apple.com/guide/apple-configurator-mac/supervise-devices-apd9e4f64088/2.16/mac/12.4. Note: Requires the Apple Configurator app (on a Mac, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/apple-configurator/id1037126344?mt=12). Could also be done with a MDM device management system.
How to Maximize Battery Life on an iPad or iPhone: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2022/08/24/how-to-maximize-battery-life-on-an-ipad-or-iphone/
What to do if you’re stuck in Guided Access:
- Try doing several Forced Restarts in a row: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2021/01/01/how-to-do-a-force-restart-on-an-ipad/
- Let the battery drain. When it gets low enough Guided Access *should* turn off
- Additional possible hacks can be found in this post. Number 3 looks interesting. I haven’t tried it yet but I’m guessing that it would only work if Location Services and Find My are both toggled on and set up: https://convergeddevices.net/iphone-stuck-in-guided-access-mode/
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. In Spanish: https://support.apple.com/es-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.
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.
Android: Screen pinning (similar to Guided Access): https://www.lifewire.com/how-to-use-guided-access-android-4689158. The exact steps may look different or vary depending on your exact model of Android device.
How to pin the screen on an Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite: https://www.devicesfaq.com/en/pin-screen/samsung-galaxy-tab-s6-lite-2022
If you have a Samsung Android tablet, also look at Samsung Kids as a way to create a secured area where you can add any combination of apps:
Can use the included My Camera to take pictures and videos and then view them within My Gallery. The included Bobby’s Canvas app has a fun drawing area. Exiting Samsung Kids is secured with a PIN. More info: https://www.samsung.com/us/apps/samsung-kids/
The YouTube Kids app (https://bit.ly/3O0FpIT) or the Video Collections app (https://bit.ly/3zEuW1k or on Samsung Galaxy Store: https://bit.ly/3zGG7q7 ) can be used as a way to save links to specific YouTube videos or channels. Adding one of these apps within the secured Samsung Kids area would allow Gestalt Language Processors to access videos as part of their communication system in a secured way.
Google Family Link: https://families.google/familylink/.
Amazon Fire tablet: Amazon Kids can be used as a way to create a secured area with just the app(s) and access to device features that you choose: https://amzn.to/3Pfz2BN. You can also use Screen Pinning to lock into a single app: https://www.devicesfaq.com/en/pin-screen/amazon-kindle-fire
Windows: Set up a single-app kiosk on Windows 10/11: https://bit.ly/3Ocxdo3 (applicable for Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise, and Education & Windows 11. Unfortunately you can not set Kiosk mode for Windows 10 Home edition (the operating system on my AWOW AiBook 10 Windows tablet / mini laptop: https://bit.ly/3IJRBf8).
See “Game Apps & AAC: why these need to be on separate devices” for a real life example and considerations: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2016/07/31/game-apps-aac-why-these-need-to-be-on-separate-devices/
A free printable handout of this post is available on TPT: https://bit.ly/TechSafety-and-AAC
This blog post & handout was the sole idea and creation of Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP, OMazing Kids AAC Consulting, OMazing Kids, LLC, all rights reserved. © 2022 and beyond. I assume no liability for tech or app purchases, any tech related glitches and am not making patient-specific recommendations.
Looking for in-depth up to date info to compare features in AAC apps for iOS, Android, Amazon Fire and Windows? Check out my 5 AAC Feature Matching resources: https://bit.ly/5aacFeatureMatchingResources
Have questions? The best way to reach me is via Facebook messaging over on my OMazing Kids page: https://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsAAC/
Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP, Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC, OMazing Kids AAC Consulting
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