What is Google Family Link and how does it work?

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If you have kids, you probably care about what 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 some things children 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 service from Google that offers several parental controls. Here’s how it works.

What is Google Family Link?

Google Family Link allows controls across a family group, allowing parent(s) to control child devices, to varying degrees. It lets you create a specific Google account for your child. This account is a lot like an adult account – only it lets you set ground rules, such as dictating which apps your child can use and for how long.

You can even set a bedtime on your child’s device and see your child’s location with the app.

What parental controls does it offer?

With Family Link you can approve or block the apps your child wants to download from the Google Play Store. You can also monitor their screen time, including checking out how much time your child spends on their favourite apps, thanks to weekly or monthly activity reports. And, you can set daily screen time limits for their device.

Here’s a full list of features:

  • Manage the apps your child can use
  • Approve or block apps your child wants from the Google Play Store
  • Keep an eye on screen time
  • See how much time their child spends on their apps with weekly or monthly activity reports
  • Set daily screen time limits for your child’s device
  • Set a device bedtime
  • See your child’s location
  • Remotely lock your child’s device

Family Link does not claim to block inappropriate content, though some apps do offer their own filtering options that can be accessed through Family Link. That will mean you can set age limits on Google Play content, like apps, books, movies – you can set SafeSearch filtering on Google Search and you can filter explicit lyrics in Play Music, although Google declares that these measures are not all 100 per cent successful.

What does Google Family Link require?

To use Google Family Link, you need the following:

  • The Family Link app running on a compatible Android device for your child (any Android Nougat 7.0+ device, might work on Android 5 and 6 too).
  • A Google Account for your child that’s managed with Family Link.
  • The Family Link app running on your own compatible device (any Android 5 or iOS 9.0+ device).
  • Your own Google Account.

How does Google Family Link work?

Google leaves it up up to you to decide when your child is old enough for an Android phone or tablet. Next, you need to download the Family Link for Android app onto your mobile device and then create a Google Account for your child through the app, or through a browser at families.google.com.

You, as the parent, can run Family Link on either an Android device or an iOS device in order to manage Google accounts for kids under 13. When your child turns 13, he or she will have the option to graduate to a normal Google Account. Once you’ve created an account for your child, sign him or her onto their new device.

You can also create a family group with up to six people, and you’d be the family manager.

What about Chromebooks?

Family Link can also be used to manage your kid’s Chromebook activity and screen time. Go here to learn more.

Where is Google Family Link available?

As of early 2018, Google has opened Family Link to everyone in the US and the UK and most of Europe.

Want to know more?

See the Google Family Link site and FAQ hub for more details.



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