If you have kids, you probably care about they do on a mobile device.
Don't get us wrong. You want them to explore, tinker around, and aspire to be Mark Zuckerberg 2.0, but at the same time, there are just some things kids maybe shouldn't do on an internet-connected phone or tablet. So, what happens when your child asks for an Android device? You can either say no right from the get-go, or you can use Family Link, a new service from Google that offers several parental controls.
What is Google Family Link?
Family Link is a new Android app lets you create a specific Google Account for your kid. This account is a lot like your own account - only it lets you set ground rules, such as dictating which apps your kid can use and for how long. You can even set a bedtime on your kid’s device.
What parental controls does it offer?
You can approve or block the apps your kid wants to download from the Google Play Store. You can also monitor their screen time, including checking out how much time your kid spends on their favourite apps, thanks to weekly or monthly activity reports. And, as we already said, you can set daily screen time limits for their device as well as a device bedtime. You can even remotely lock a device at any time.
Keep in mind Family Link does not claim to block inappropriate content, though some apps do offer their own filtering options.
What does Google Family Link require?
- A compatible Android device for your kid (any Android Nougat 7.0+ device)
- A Google Account for your kid that's managed with Family Link
- Your own compatible device (any Android Kit Kat+ device or iOS 9+ device)
- Your own Google Account
How does Google Family Link work?
Google leaves it up up to you to decide when your kid is old enough for an Android phone or tablet. Next, you'll need to download the Family Link for Android app onto your mobile device and then create a Google Account for your kid through the app. Go here for more information on how to create an account.
Family Link can only manage Google accounts for kids under 13. When your kid turns 13, he or she will have the option to graduate to a normal Google Account. Once you've created an account for your kid, sign him or her onto their new device. You can also create a family group with up to six people, but then you'd become the family manager.
Go here for more information about family groups.
Now, once you've set up Family Link for you and your family, you can start adjusting preferences:
- See Google's FAQ page on how to change your kid's Google Account settings
- See Google's FAQ page on how to manage your kid's Android apps
- See Google's FAQ page on how to manage your kid's device screen time
- See Google's FAQ page on how to check your kid's device location
- See Google's FAQ page on how to restrict mature content on Google Play
When can you use Google Family Link?
From 15 March 2017, you could request an invite from here to join the Family Link early access program. After receiving an invite, parents with kids under 13 years old could download the Family Link app. However, as of 29 September 2017, Google opened Family Link to all parents in the US an invitation.
Where is Google Family Link available?
Family Link initially launched in just the US, though Google said it plans to make the app more broadly available.