Do you have an Android device that sometimes seems to belong to your young children instead of you? If this sounds like you, then I’m sure you’ve:

  • heard “Dad!” or “Mom!” yelled out as they pressed the wrong button and went out of the game or video clip or drawing they were working on
  • madly cancelled out as they were about to make an unauthorized purchase from an ad
  • or before they delete an important e-mail
  • or call your boss at home on a Friday night
  • worried about what they might access from the browser or Market
  • or maybe you’re not comfortable handing it over for all of these reasons?

Well fret no more; Famigo Sandbox is here to the rescue. It’s exactly what you’re looking for!

This free app sets up a sandbox for you and your kids where you have complete control over which apps can be used. Think of it as a launcher within your launcher, a safe walled city where your kids can play.

Start the app in Play mode, and your child can only choose from a start screen of apps that you pre-select. What happens if they do tap an ad or other button that would normally take them out of a game? It depends on which option you select (reachable in Settings -> Select Block Mode):

  • Show Popup (Block Screen):  where the Popup comes up and they need to press back to resume their app at the same place, or Home to return to the sandbox. This seems preferable in most situations
  • Return to Sandbox Immediately: the default, which takes them out of the app, stops them from going elsewhere, but then they can click the icon to restart their app from the beginning or go back to the sandbox.

To get out of the sandbox, you need to tap menu and then a new unlock sequence. This takes you to Manage mode where you can make changes to the apps included.

You have additional options to take further control including:

  • Grid View vs Gallery View
  • Block In-App Purchases
  • Block Social Gaming
  • Block Incoming Phone Calls: great for those of us with home businesses and calls coming at any time
  • Prevent Sleep: which has the added benefit of minimizing the number of times your kids hand the phone back to you and ask you to unlock it.

The app does a good job on setup of choosing an initial list of apps that you might want your kids to have access to, but I’ve found that I do want to make a few additions. I have yet to remove one of its choices. It works great on both my phone and my tablet, but it did take longer to choose my initial list of apps in the tablet version – to the point where I almost thought it was frozen.

If your kids are Android fans like you, then this is a must have app. You’ll have it ready on a home screen to press before you hand over your device every time.

What’s the worst thing your child has done with your Android device? Would Famigo Sandbox have saved you? Let us know in the comments!

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