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I want to use a single tablet for myself and the kids: 1 adult, a 6-year-old, and a 3-year-old. But whichever path I choose, I seem to run into problems. This is the only really related topic I found on this entire site, and it's 2½ years old and doesn't help me.

I have googled a lot but couldn't find a good resource to address this, so I'll try to summarize my options below. TLDR: What's the "best practice" for child-proofing a shared family tablet?

--> Which of these options is "best"? (use your personal interpretation of "good")

option 1: use my own profile + parental lock app

The tablet runs with my Google Account. I use this with many of my own apps and I certainly don't want the kids to mess with any of my apps. I installed the excellent parental-lock app "Kids Place" as well as a scheduler plugin to limit the time per day it will run.

Pros:

  • I can set up both kids inside the lock app, no further Android user accounts necessary.
  • I only need to install each app once.
  • I only need to pay for each app once!
  • The parental-lock app linked above is really sensible! (In particular: daily time limit, app selection, lock down the system)

Cons:

  • App data (game progress!) is shared among both kids and myself.

option 2: use restricted profile for each child

Pros:

  • Simple; no parental-lock app required.
  • Separate app data (game progress) for each profile.

Cons:

  • Restricted profiles are not good enough! Too many settings and features remain exposed. The entire "Settings" remains available, as well as lots of system things like Google Now. No time limiting available!
  • I need to install each app in each profile.
  • I need to pay for each app in each profile! WTF??
  • I can't turn a restricted profile into a full profile later on (when they grow old enough); would have to delete the profile and reinstall desired apps (losing all data).

option 3: use full profile for each child + parental lock app

Pros:

  • The parental-lock app linked above is really sensible!
  • Separate app data (game progress).
  • I can remove the parental-lock app, and they'll have a full account. Easy.

Cons:

  • I need to set up each kid's settings in their respective profile. Twice the work!
  • I need to install each app in each profile. Twice the work!
  • I need to pay for each app in each profile! (again, WTF??)

Most glaringly, I don't want to pay for any app several times over especially when it's all on the same device. And while Google's built-in restrictions are a good first step, they're really not enough. As I said, I can't believe nobody has asked or blogged about this yet - it must be a common challenge for parents?

No, I don't want to purchase a separate tablet for each person in the household. Even if I'd want to spend the money, I'd still be faced with most of the drawbacks listed above (but then it would make some sense to buy the same app several times; once per device).

So far, I'm going with option 1 simply because it's the least trouble and the drawback is the least painful to deal with. But I'm not happy with it - call me a perfectionist :-)


Update 2016-05-27:

As noted, I chose option 1, and it has served me fine. The tablet is locked with a pin code, and the parental lock app is also locked with a pin code. This works very reliably, and is really easy to handle. The one contra argument I listed still seems to be the only one, and it's not a real problem.
Incidentally, as it turns out, the tablet in question gets used very rarely - good thing we got a cheap one!

  • Which Android app and device are you using? Now, while I've never owned a tablet or used a restricted profile earlier, why can't you backup your paid app(s) and restore only the app (not its data) into restricted profiles? Is it not possible? // Are these profiles different from secondary users? // Is the device rooted? You can use some backup apps to restore your stuff without doing everything manually. – Firelord Nov 19 '15 at 22:44
  • @Firelord, I'm using a 10" Alps TU-1491running Android 5.0 which is not rooted (and probably can't be) so the idea about backing up the apps and restoring them elsewhere won't fly. "Profiles" are Android's term for what you call "secondary users." I linked the app in the text above; it's "Kids Place". – Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Nov 20 '15 at 6:13
  • Any follow-up on this, Torben? Curious as to what you ended up doing as I'm facing the same issue. – eflat Apr 9 '16 at 2:23
  • Hi @eflat - I attempted all the listed options but gave up quickly, as option #1 seems to work just fine. – Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Apr 10 '16 at 14:27
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    +1 I am one of the parents with that problem and just want to say thanks for this helpful article!! – Bastl May 27 '16 at 6:04

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