If you've bought your child a Chromebook, you're probably wondering whether it has any features that allow you to manage their activity and screen time.

The short answer? Yes, it does.

Google has an app, called Family Link, that is designed to give parents more control over their children's Android phones and Chromebook laptops. Parents an do things like give their OK to websites and apps they don't mind them using, set screen time limits, set a bedtime restriction, remotely lock devices, and monitor usage and activity.

Essentially, Google's Family Link app lets you create a Google Account for your child, and then limit what your child can or cannot do on the Chromebook that they've signed into with their Google Account. Here's what you need to know.

How Chromebook works with a child’s Google Account

In general, children signed in to their own Google Account on a Chromebook will have a similar experience to adults. But features like screen time limits, remote device locking, apps from Google Play, and location reporting are also available for your child’s Chromebook. Here's what they - and you (the parent) - can expect, as of December 2018:

  • Children will have access to apps from Google Play and Chrome Web Store.
  • Children can't use incognito mode.
  • Parents can manage the websites their children visit on Chrome.
  • Parents can block "mature sites" including sexually explicit and violent sites.
  • Parents can manage their child's screen time.
  • Parents can limit their child’s ability to grant permissions.
  • Parents can see or delete their child’s Chrome history.
  • Parents can remotely lock or unlock their child's device.

How to create a Google Account for your kid

Family Link can be used with Chromebooks running Chrome OS (versions 65 and up). For children under 13 in the US, the app will even let you create a Google Account for your child, which we recommend if you want to control their activity on a Chromebook. If you live in the EU and your child is between 13 and 15, you can still create an account for them.

Once you've done that, you can simply add your child’s Google Account to their Chromebook. After your child is signed in to their laptop, your (the parent's) password is required to add new users. If you (the parent) are the Chromebook’s owner account, be sure to disable guest mode and control who can sign in.

US children

  1. Download the Family Link app from Google Play Store.
  2. Open the Family Link app (or visit the Family Link setup page to get started).
  3. In the top right, tap Create +.
  4. Follow the on-screen steps to finish creating your child's account.
  5. When done, a confirmation will appear.

EU children

  1. Turn on the new Chromebook and follow the on-screen steps to set up the device.
  2. When asked to sign in with a Google Account, tap Create new account.
  3. If you don't see Create new account, tap More options.
  4. Enter your child's name, birthday, gender, email, and password.
  5. Follow the on-screen steps to sign in with your own Google Account.
  6. You'll need to provide parental consent and pick your child's settings.

Go here for additional instructions on how to create a child's Google account.

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How to manage your kid's activity on a Chromebook

You can also control all this by clicking your kid's name from the Family Link site.

Manage browsing

You can manually control what your child can browse, or you can allow Google to smartly decide for you.

  1. Open the Family Link app.
  2. Select your child.
  3. On the Settings card, tap Manage settings > Filters on Google Chrome.
  4. Choose a setting: Allow all sites; Try to block mature sites; Only allow certain sites.
  5. Tap Manage sites to manually allow or block certain sites

Go here for additional instructions on how to manage browsing.

Block or allow websites

If you'd rather manually block or allow sites yourself, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Family Link app.
  2. Select your child.
  3. On the Settings card, tap Manage settings > Filters on Google Chrome.
  4. From there, select Manage sites > Approved or Blocked.
  5. In the bottom right corner, tap Create +.
  6. Add a website or domain.
  7. In the top left, tap Close x.

Go here for additional instructions on how to block or allow websites.

Manage site permissions

You can decide whether your child can give site permissions to their location, camera, and notifications. When "Permissions for sites and apps" is switched off, kids won’t be able to grant permissions to websites.

  1. Open the Family Link app .
  2. Select your child.
  3. On the Settings card, tap Manage settings > Filters on Google Chrome > Chrome dashboard.
  4. Turn "Permissions for sites and apps" on or off.

Go here for additional instructions on how to manage site permissions.

Manage screen time

When you create a Google Account for your child using Family Link, you will be given the option to set screen time limits. That way, you can lock your child's device at bedtime, or when you want them to stop using it during the day.

Set a bedtime

  1. Open the Family Link app.
  2. Select your child.
  3. On the Bedtime card, tap Edit schedule.
  4. Follow the on-screen steps to set a bedtime.

Daytime limits

  1. Open the Family Link app.
  2. Select your child.
  3. On the Daily limit card, tap Edit limits.
  4. Follow the on-screen steps to set a daily limit.
  5. Note: Daily limits apply to each device your child uses.

Go here for additional instructions on how to manage screen time.

See or delete search history on Chrome

This one is a little obvious, but in case you don't know, follow these steps:

See Chrome history

  1. On your child's Chromebook, open Chrome.
  2. In the top right, select More (three dots) > History.
  3. This page shows your child's recent Chrome history.

Delete Chrome history

  1. Open the Family Link app.
  2. Select your child.
  3. On the Settings card, tap Manage settings > Filters on Google Chrome > Chrome dashboard.
  4. In the "History" section, tap Clear history.

Go here for additional instructions on how to manage screen time.

Remotely lock or unlock

And finally, to truly annoy your child, you can lock down their Chromebook to stop them from using it. Here's how.

  1. Open the Family Link app .
  2. Select your child.
  3. On the card for one of your child's devices.
  4. Tap Lock now or Unlock.

Go here for additional instructions on how to manage screen time.

Want to know more?

Pocket-lint has a guide on how to use Family Link to control Android devices. Go here to check that out