I have a 2 year old boy.

When he sees iPhone and iPad, he is literally glued to it for hours on end. And he is so stubborn that it is difficult for us to get him leave these instruments.

Usually I hid my iPhone when he is awake, but if I want to use it when he is awake, it gets difficult to me.

I have tried few things to some degree of success: 1. Hide ALL apps and Camera via restrictions so that he does not have much to play with. 2. For iPad, I just make the volume zero.

What I aim is for is this: I want to be able to use iPhone and iPad in front of him without him wanting these devices.

Do you have a solution for this?

  • "I want to be able to use iPhone and iPad in front of him without him wanting these devices." YOUR devices, or iDevices in general? If the latter, get him an iPod touch. If the former, well, good luck. ;)
    – DA01
    Commented Dec 30, 2011 at 20:18
  • I just found this product, might be useful as a "hardware" version of disabling the Home button (since Incarcerapp requires jailbreaking the phone): bubcap.com/index.html
    – Martha
    Commented Dec 31, 2011 at 23:45
  • 6
    Buy him a Blackberry Playbook; he's too young to know its different and will just subconsciously realize that the fun box started sucking.
    – Adam Wuerl
    Commented Jan 1, 2012 at 3:39
  • 13
    "literally glued to it" -- in that case, use lots of warm soapy water and pry the fingers loose slowly and carefully. Commented Feb 27, 2012 at 20:49
  • 1
    Sometimes the answer is "no", and you don't have to explain why.
    – Marc
    Commented Jul 21, 2014 at 22:58

7 Answers 7


First, set up ground rules about how much he can play on these devices each day and be clear with him about them.

Next, in order to help you follow through with your rules, lock your IPhone/IPad with a password. That way, you won't have to worry about hiding your devices from him, plus this will help accustom him to being in the same room as your ipad without being able to play with it. Here's how to do this:

Settings --> General --> Passcode Lock

Also, be sure to follow through on your rules. When he wants to use it, tell him "Ok, you can use it until x O'clock". As that time approaches, give him fair warning so he can finish up what he is doing. Once his time is up take your device away from him. He might put up a stink but stick to your guns and eventually he'll learn to accept it.

Last, when he sees you using it and wants a turn, remind him that his time for the day is up. This will likely be tough for the little guy, so you may want to gradually ramp up your use in front of him. However, if you stand firm, eventually he'll eventually learn to share, and that is a very valuable life lesson :)

  • 2
    Thanks for your idea about Passcode lock. Now he does not use the phone much as nothing happens after the pass code screen :)
    – meetpd
    Commented Jan 2, 2012 at 5:08
  • @meetpd: Glad I could help :)
    – Briguy37
    Commented Jan 3, 2012 at 16:36
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    This works great until your 2 year old learns to watch you unlock your ipad and can remember the code. I speak from experience :|
    – Jamiec
    Commented Mar 30, 2012 at 13:17
  • @Jamiec: Sounds like it's time to change your code...dang smart little people ;)
    – Briguy37
    Commented Mar 30, 2012 at 16:12
  • You may have to not use them in front of him for a little while too, until he is old enough to understand it is not his. For us it helped that he got to use 'his' iPad when we decided (he asks now), and we don't sit and use electronics and expect him not to - we only use it if he is engaged in independent play, and at around 1.5 - 2.5 years we had to not use it in front of him unless we wanted to share.
    – Ida
    Commented Jul 21, 2014 at 18:35

Since you're asking in regard to a toddler, my answer is this:

It's not a toy. Make no exceptions.

I would very likely allow older kids to play with my iPhone, because they're more likely to take good care to not damage it, and to not make calls to random people in the phone list. But a toddler doesn't understand what he's doing, he's just touching semi-randomly and while enjoying the changing colors.

The toddler of a friend of mine ruined an iPhone because he, too, was incredibly attracted to it and eventually physically broke it. (Turns out an iPhone doesn't do very well as a car on a rough stone floor. Apparently it lacks something called "wheels." Who knew?) My wife and I are very protective of our computers and iPhones; from the very start we made it clear that these are our devices and only we may use them. Despite being very active and inquisitive, out toddler learned to respect that electronic devices are not kids' toys but adult tools.

My recommendation to you is that you begin teaching your son that a phone is delicate and expensive, and not a toy. Until he learns to not play with it at all, make no exceptions. Do not under any circumstances let him touch or hold it. It's forbidden, just like a kitchen knife. In your case this is going to be difficult because he has already learned that he is allowed to use it. Persevere.

Make it a new rule that he is not allowed to touch your phone. Be consistent. As long as your don't break this rule, he can learn that it really is a rule. If you break your rule, you're teaching him that he can break the rule too. So don't give in, no matter what. Really, treat the phone like a knife.

Only when he demonstrates that he has learned to respect your things can you allow him to play with it under supervision.1)

Please note that my context for this answer is that an iPhone/iPad/laptop is an expensive piece of equipment that I can't afford to replace on a whim. I'm sure suitably affluent parents have other/higher limits, but my limit is lower. I'm less strict concerning less valuable non-toys.

1) Software recommendations generally aren't in the scope of this site but it fits into this topic: There's a useful iPhone app called "IncarcerApp" that will disable the home button so that the user remains in the chosen program. My toddler is sometimes allowed to use a painting app, locked down using IncarcerApp, and only under supervision.

(Edited to emphasize my context relative to other answers.)

  • +1; this idea of "not your toy" will become more important when your child learns to play cooperatively with others. Commented Dec 30, 2011 at 16:29
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    But the iPhone is a toy. That's why we all buy them. We're not buying them for their exceptional ability to make phone calls. ;)
    – DA01
    Commented Dec 30, 2011 at 20:19
  • 3
    @DA01 I respectfully disagree. With a market price of nearly $2000 (less with contract), I am certainly not wealthy enough to call it a mere "toy". To me the iPhone is an expensive PDA that happens to also handle phone calls. It took me eight years to find a device that would (nearly) adequately replace my aging, non-Internet PDA I had been using for a decade. By the way, mobile service is excellent in Europe and it really is a great phone. Commented Dec 30, 2011 at 20:33
  • I'm with Torben on this (+1, btw!); the phone features are one of the least used on my iPhone. It is primarily a PDA (and a far more useful one than my old PDA), secondarily an entertainment device, and tertiarily a phone.
    – user420
    Commented Dec 31, 2011 at 13:54
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    Regarding the rest of the post: for most of us adults, the iPad (and as well the iPhone) is a toy or entertainment device. Perhaps some use it as a PDA, but I'd bet a large majority use it as an entertainment device primarily. As such, I can't agree with forbidding it entirely - as I certainly use it as a toy, I'm not telling my son it's not a toy. Limiting screentime seems a better solution (both for me, and for him!).
    – Joe
    Commented Jul 21, 2014 at 19:08

My kids know what screen time means. They know that TV, the Wii, the phone, etc. are for special occasions and then they can only have one a day and they are very good about understanding this. They have understood this concept at a very early age as if you are consistent and use the right words (ie- grown up words) they do get it. As well, setting a timer when the time ends is a good idea. Stubborn or not you are in charge. Even tears can be a good lesson. Try distracting, but don't give in to crying, a rule is a rule and after a few times kids realize crying doesn't work and they give it up.


You will never succeed in making the iPad or iPhone unattractive to anyone let alone a toddler. Instead, turn what you see as a negative into a positive. The iPad is a great educational device for young children.

Integrate your iPad into your two-year-old's daily routine. Just as you would set aside time for him to read books, draw pictures, play with toys, watch TV, go for a walk and other activities, sit him down at a table or desk with the iPad each day. There are plenty of good educational apps for children of all ages.

This is exactly what we have been doing with our son since his early twos. He can count to twenty, identify digits, knows the alphabet back to front, and is learning how to spell three-letter words. He has just turned three and knows more about letters, numbers, shapes, colors, animals, etc. than most kids on their first day of school. And he is not addicted to the iPad at all.

As far as the iPhone goes, have you considered bringing up a YouTube video that he can watch while you change him after a number two? We use an alphabet song. It breaks his boredom, makes him cooperate and educates him all at the same time. And like the iPad routine, it reduces the iPhone's novelty factor.

As a result of his iPad and limited iPhone usage, he doesn't try to grab my wife's iPhone or iPad when my wife is using either of them, because he knows there's a time and place for it.

  • Hi Steve. While I think the idea of using an iPad is interesting, particularly since you have clearly had such success, you aren't answering the question at all. The OP wants to know how to avoid having their child demand excessive amounts of time on the devices, and how to be able to use the phone in front of the child without the child demanding to play with the phone. All answers here should focus on directly addressing the question asked. For reference, please see this meta answer.
    – user420
    Commented Mar 16, 2012 at 19:49
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    @Beofett: I disagree. By setting aside a time each day for the child to play with the iPad, it reduces the novelty factor and establishes a boundary. Sure, I disagree with the notion of making the child not want these devices at all (because it's impossible), but I have at least provided an answer that I think will reduce the iPad novelty factor.
    – user1975
    Commented Mar 16, 2012 at 20:12
  • 1
    Then you should edit your answer to make clear how you think setting aside time for using an iPad will eliminate demands to use the iPhone/iPad, as that is not stated anywhere in your answer.
    – user420
    Commented Mar 16, 2012 at 23:37
  • 1
    Ok, I rewrote it. The message is essentially the same, just leaning more towards the constructive end of the spectrum.
    – user1975
    Commented Mar 17, 2012 at 2:10
  • No problem. I slightly edited it again to make it even more constructive.
    – user1975
    Commented Mar 17, 2012 at 2:42

I gave my little guy (18 months old) my old Google G1 to play with. It was out of contract, no longer able to make calls, and I also put it into "airplane mode".

I downloaded a few games that I thought he might want to play on it, and then tried to show him how to play them.

Every time he tries to reach for either my or my wife's devices, I turn on the G1, hand it to him, and try to get him to play one of the games on it.

Once I turned his little "toy" into a "learning experience" he lost interest in trying to get ahold of them altogether!

This approach might work for you, too!


I tend to see iphones and ipads as toys more than anything else - my kids get to play with them as much as they do other toys - I think they can be pretty safe with them from about 3 years old; but under that age you might find they can be a bit too rough.

The key is to treat them like you would other toys - would you let them play with one toy for a whole afternoon? Or would you like to get them doing different things? We let them play on one of the phones for a short while if we are in the car and they are getting very bored. For iPads we might give them a bit more time if they are playing together as it is more of a coffee table toy than a solo toy.

Either way, when it's time to finish we do the same as with other toys, and tell them firmly that it's time to finish. If there are arguments they get less time with it next time, or they miss out on it entirely for a while.


We have a smart phone, a dumb phone, and a tablet. Our son is 16mo.

The smart phone is boring. He played with it a lot and Mom lets him play with it anytime under supervision. It doesn't do anything and it locks on its own.

The tablet is fun occasionally, Mom has some games on there for him and it has youtube. The ability of youtube to display on the tivo/tv at the same time solved that.

The dumb phone is the most fun. It flips open and closed, can pinch fingers, and easily call important people or emergency services. Dad takes it back because he doesn't want baby to accidentally wake up his boss, that makes this object very desirable. To get around that Dad added a few dummy numbers at the start and end of the contacts list. Those dummy numbers have been called many times now.

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