We’ve helped over 700 families raising disabled children and young people to use their tablets since our Digital Skills Programme started in 2015. Many families can be uncertain where to start when they receive a new tablet, especially if they're not familiar with using them. Cathy ,our Service Delivery Manager for the Digital Skills Programme, has put together some top tips to help you start getting the most from your tablet.

1.  Set up the device yourself
This might seem obvious, but it can be tempting to simply hand the tablet to your child for setting up, or set it up in haste and forget your password or passcode. If you do this, you could end up being locked out of the device and it can be almost impossible to get back in. Make time to set up your tablet and use passwords and passcodes that you’ll remember.

2.  Don’t be afraid!
Children often seem to know so much more than we do about technology, and aren’t always the most patient teachers if we ask them for help! One of the reasons they are so ‘tech-savvy’ is because they’re not afraid to try things out.

It’s difficult to break your tablet by simply pressing buttons, so spend time playing with it or get some free training to understand what it can do. In particular, find your way around the settings. That way, you’ll have more confidence when managing your child’s usage.

3.  Apply parental controls
Most tablets enable parents to implement some level of control. This can include restricting the websites and videos your child uses, managing their ability to download or delete apps, and preventing them from accessing your email and other accounts. Usually, parental controls can be found in the ‘settings’ area of your device.

In the case of iPads, there’s also Guided Access, which allows a whole new level of parental control, such as setting timers to close apps after a fixed amount of time, setting the volume so your child can’t keep turning it up, and freezing specific areas of the screen. 

4.  Find suitable apps
Not all apps are useful or high quality, but don’t despair – we have a Pinterest board bringing together apps that families raising disabled children and young people find helpful. There’s also a free app called Autism Apps by TouchAutism which includes reviews by parent carers. These can be really useful, especially if you’re thinking of downloading a paid-for app.

5.  Take advantage of the help available
As well as our Digital Skills Programme, there’s a great deal of help available, whatever your digital skill level. Many libraries offer workshops and some technology companies also provide free support. For example, Apple run small group workshops and one-to-one sessions for iPad and iPhone users in their stores. You can book a session using your Apple ID, head to -Today at Apple, to find a session or workshop your area.

Samsung also offer in-store support to use Samsung tablets – there’s no need to book, just turn up with your Samsung tablet or smartphone. Charities including NSPCC and AbilityNet can help too.

You can find out about our free tablet training programme by visiting www.familyfund.org.uk/digital.