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I want to turn off the multitouch gestures on my iPad 2 running iOS 5. They make it very difficult to use around my child who is constantly switching apps on me or bringing up the notification bar.

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Do you mean the 4 fingered swipe gesture? This gesture switches apps and brings up the recent apps list at the bottom of the view. You can disable that (as Graeme indicated) but not the basic one finger swipe gesture as used inside apps. – Ben Brocka Jan 16 '12 at 14:04

Yes you can. Go to Settings>General and you can turn off multi-touch gestures.

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