the IT city, the I.T. Baby


Automatically disable social media on your child’s Android device at certain times

Tasker screenProducts like the Kindle Fire advertise that you can set limits on usage, that they can automatically disable your child’s access and refuse to let them do anything, thus being the bad guy in the equation. It’s advertised as a feature, and it is as it’s not a built-in Android thing, but for less than $3 you can do significantly better blocking, and only disable social media if that’s your goal.

ITMama told me a story about a co-worker whose children had their phones confiscated at 8pm nightly to keep them off of social media, but it also had the effect of keeping them from creating lists, researching homework assignments, playing Candy Crush, etc. It also made the parents the bad guy.

There’s a program I’m writing about for my other blogging gig called Tasker. I’ve already mentioned the automatic assistance request task that I made that will signal when a phone is near (actually re-writing it at the moment using another module,) and using the same program you can set limits on your child’s internet usage based on time of day, day of week, location, or any of a number of variables such as battery left, phone orientation, stock ticker price, etc.

So today I’m going to write a very simple task using Tasker that simply disables Facebook after 8pm on Weekdays. We’ll expand on this style of stuff later, and you can improvise and add more than Facebook to the mix, and more than time of day, but this is the basics of how this works. There will be a much much fancier version of this with bells, whistles, and ribbons at my other blogging gig later as this is beginner stuff.

Step one: Get Tasker. It was $2.99 at Google Play last I checked. It’s worth it.

Step two: open the app, create a task. In Tasker, a task is a series of actions (or just one action,) strung together. In this case our action will be under app, Kill App, and the locate Facebook. If you’re rooted this will definitely work to kill Facebook, if not and it was preinstalled you may just want to have the action set to disable internet.

Step three: in profiles create a profile as Day. Under days go to Week Day, then select Mon-Fri. Save this (there’s more to come as at the moment this will kill it those days entirely and only once)

Step four: long press your profile (left side) and choose Add, Time. Add the times you want Facebook to be killed. You may have to make multiple profiles if you’re wanting to kill the app after midnight based on what I’m reading, I’m still learning.

Step five: long press, add Application, select Facebook

If everything worked properly, you should now have a task that kills Facebook if it’s launched after 8pm on weeknights. If it didn’t work properly you can edit the task to use Root, or simply disable internet when Facebook is up, which makes Facebook useless when running. You can also have it text you that it’s being accessed.

Variations on the theme

Using AutoLocation ($1.29 tasker plugin), or setting up an event context for when you’re near certain WiFi access points (such as your parent’s neighbor’s WiFi) you can choose to disable or enable social media while the kids are at the grandparent’s house.

using a geofence from AutoLocation you can disable all social media at school except during lunch periods.

You can also set Tasker to shoot you a text message every time they try and get into social media, or attempt to break into your task.

Paul King

Paul King lives in Nashville Tennessee with his wife, two daughters and cats. He writes for Pocketables, theITBaby, and is an IT consultant along with doing tech support for a film production company.