Keeping up with your kid’s online activity can be a full-time job. Often they are quicker to learn and adopt new technologies or online platforms. Google has created a service for parents with young children or teens. Family Link gives parents the ability to control almost all your child’s online experience. This includes approving Play Store downloads, remote locking of the device, filter content, and track the location of the device.

Creating An Account

To begin, head over to the Family Link website. Family Link requires the following before setup:

  • Your child’s Google Account (The Family Link app will allow the creation of one if there isn’t one already)
  • Child’s device running Android 7.0 Nougat or later (this can is in the device settings, usually in the About section)
  • Your Android device running Android 4.4 Kitkat or later; OR your iOS device running iOS 9 or later
  • Your own Google Account

Family Link does not work with Google Accounts provided by an employer or school; it must be a personal account.

Family Link App

Download the Family Link app from the Google Play Store or the App Store. If your device operates on Android 10, Family Link is built into the settings. You will find it by following this path: Settings > Digital Wellbeing & parental controls.

To add your child, tap the icon in the top right of the app. This will add your child to the group, and onscreen instructions will walk you through the rest of the setup. Parental consent must be verified, which you can do with your Google account or a credit card. The result will be a temporary authorization, but no fee will be charged. However, some cards in the US may have a 30-cent fee.

Google will automatically select the appropriate level of settings based on your child’s age once they get added. With that being said, you will want to double-check to make sure everything is to your liking and adjust when necessary.

Filtering Content

After your child is added to the group, tap on their profile in the Family Link app. Select Manage settings to decide on the content they will have access to and what filters you want to be applied to. Family Link has options for Google Chrome, Google Search, Google Play, Google Assistant, Android apps, Account info, Location, and other items.

Filters on Google Search will all safe search to be activated. Google will warn that it can’t guarantee it will block all content you may want, but it is relatively robust in blocking content. Under Google Chrome, their will be an option to block all mature sites, or you can create your list of prohibited websites.

Managing App Access

Whenever your child attempts to download an app through the Google Play Store, you will get a popup with the following: Name of the app, publisher, average star rating, and the number of downloads. In addition to the information above, you will also see the maturity rating on it. From there, you will have the ability to allow or block the download.

Screen Usage

Family Link provides a weekly and monthly report detailing what apps your child is using. It will give you a detailed breakdown of how much time they have used each app. By selecting the app, you can filter it down to the day.

Limiting Screen Usage

Family Link also gives the ability to limit the amount of screen time in two ways. First, the overseer of the account is able to set a daily limit. To set a Daily Limit, tap edit limits, and set the number of hours and minutes that your child can use their device per day. You can set different levels for different days.

Secondly, Family Link enables a Bedtime feature. Like Daily Limit, select edit schedule, and set the times when they can and cannot use the device. For example, Monday through Friday from 9 PM to 7 AM but on Friday through Sunday 10 PM to 8 AM.

If these features don’t work, there is another option. The Lock Now option will kick them off their device immediately. These options work even when the device is not connected to the internet.

Location Tracking

Under your child’s profile under Manage Settings,> Location to ensure your child’s location is toggled on. This will require the device to be turned on and connected to the Internet. If it is not, it will show the latest location. When it is switched on, you will see a location tab with a map that pinpoints their location. A greyed-out icon indicates that the location is not in real-time.

The Family Link has other features that might be useful, like playing a sound to find a device if it is lost. Check it out to see all of the tools it offers parents to help keep their children productive and safe. If you found this article interesting or helpful, check out our other posts!