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Wednesday 27 September 2023 Dublin: 15°C
Toca Boca/YouTube
# stay safe
Need to keep the kids entertained? These apps will help
And you can do it without them accessing other parts of your phone or tablet.

WITH SCHOOL OFF for the Christmas holidays, keeping them entertained is a full-time job.

But while your eyes are off them, you want to make sure they’re not watching or playing anything that might be deemed inappropriate.

Not only are there tons of apps designed for younger users, but you can prevent them from going into other apps without your permission.

Before you hand over control to your kids…

You can lock your phone or tablet so that your kids can’t exit or change apps without your permission.

If you’re an iPhone or iPad owner, this can be done through Guided Access which is found in Accessibility settings. While you’re there, you should disable in-app purchases by going into Settings > General > Restrictions and turn off In-App Purchases.

Android owners can use Screen Pinning which is found by going into Settings > Security > Screen Pinning. Now when you bring up the list of recent apps, tap the pin icon on the latest app you used to keep it fixed there. Be sure to activate PIN protection first before handing it over (you will be asked when activating it).

Turning off in-app purchases here is a matter of going into Google Play > Menu (tap top-left icon or swipe left to right) > Require Authentication For Purchases and disable it there.

For: Web, iOS, Android,
Cost: €9.99 per month (Free 1 month trial)

An obvious choice considering how many shows are on it but with a constantly-growing kids section, Netflix is certainly a great way to keep younger viewers entertained.

The big change is how you can download certain shows onto your device, making long journeys more bearable for both parents and children.

YouTube Kids
For: iOS, Android
Cost: Free

A significant proportion of YouTube’s viewers tend to be from the younger demographic, and this app is designed to keep parents’ minds at ease.

With a filter system that only shows appropriate content, the app is incredibly simple to use, meaning even younger kids can use it without your help.

YouTube Spotlight / YouTube

Toca Nature
For: iOS, Android
Cost: €2.99

If you want your kids to have fun building but learn about nature too, Toca Nature is a nice option. Kids can create their own nature reserve by planting trees, creating rivers, raising mountains and populating it with animals.

Once they’re done, they can explore their creation and see the different animals in action.

Toca Boca / YouTube

Crossy Road
For: iOS, Android, Windows
Cost: Free

The ‘Frogger crossed with Flappy Bird’-style game is still going strong with regular updates and changes since its release. Tap to move your character forward and get as far as you can without being crossed over by cars, trains or other obstacles.

It also helps that it’s the least-intrusive free-to-play games out there with paying to unlock characters optional.

Yodo1Games / YouTube

For: iOS, Android
Cost: Free

Containing kids shows from RTE’s kids section, RTEJr also includes radio shows and games for younger children to play. Similar to Netflix, it also allows you to download bite-size shows for watching when there isn’t a WiFi connection.

RTÉ TV Promotions / YouTube

Minecraft – Pocket Edition
For: iOS, Android, Windows
Cost: €6.99

A regular feature on the top paid apps list, Minecraft has opened kids and adults to a whole new world of creativity since its launch in 2011. The pocket edition allows anyone to continue their game on the go, be it survival mode or building massive monuments and structures in creative mode.

TeamMojang / YouTube

LEGO City My City 2
For: iOS, Android
Cost: Free

Who doesn’t like LEGO? In this, you get to build vehicles like firetrucks, boats and helicopters and use them to help the inhabitants of LEGO City by capturing criminals, putting out fires, and collecting parts so you can build different vehicles and buildings.

Best part is it’s completely free, meaning no in-app purchases to worry about.

LEGO / YouTube

Tayasui Blocks
For: iOS
Cost: €1.99

Blocks is all about building and sharing. Create your own 3D pixel art models, be it people, characters, items or anything that comes to mind, and share it with the world. If that doesn’t suit, you can take an existing model and make whatever changes you want to it.

If you wish, you can destroy your creations with a number of comedy weapons like TNT, laser gun or revolver.

TayasuiTV / YouTube

Read: What’s your favourite childhood book? New campaign tries to get kids reading for Christmas >

Read: Kerbs was the greatest street game ever invented by Irish kids >

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