Managing your child’s digital footprint and making sure that they’re safe online and on the go can be challenging. Rest assured, Google’s Family Link app makes a great parental control tool. Plus, it’s free! With the Google Family Link app, you can set digital ground rules by managing apps, setting screen time limits, locating your child’s phone, and more. Keep reading to see how the Google Family Link app can help you better understand how your child explores the online world, as well as manage their phone to help them use the internet safely and responsibly.
How does the Google Family Link app work?
The Google Family Link app is for kids that are using an Android smartphone. However, parents can use the Google Family Link app on an Android or an iPhone. This app lets parents set digital ground rules such as managing screen time limits, allowing or blocking apps, and locating your child’s smartphone. If the child opens the Google Family Link app on their own phone, they are shown what their parent sees such as the location, app activity, apps installed, and the last time they were online.
To begin with, your child must have a Google account. If they already have one great, simply add supervision to their account. If your child doesn’t have a Google account, you can create one for them. However, if the child is 13 or older (determined by the date of birth entered), Google requests that your child creates the account. For Family Link users, Google will notify both the parent and the child before the child’s 13th birthday to encourage a family conversation regarding when the child will be ready to take control over their own account and smartphone. The child has the option to transition to a regular account or remain under parent management up until their 18th birthday.
By default, the person who sets up the account is considered the family manager. The family manager can add another family member to serve as the second parent to manage and monitor the child’s smartphone too. The family manager can invite up to 5 people to join their family group. This family manager can also remove people from their family group or delete the whole family group.
Tracking Your Child’s Location
On the parent’s phone under Manage settings > Location, make sure “See your child’s location” is on. The child’s phone must be on and connected to the internet by either the phones data plan or via WiFi in order for you to see their location. Otherwise, it will show their last known location. With your child’s location being on, you will see a map that shows their location. You can tap to expand it and zoom in. If the location isn’t very recent or in real-time, it will show as grayed out and should tell you when it was last updated.
With screen time, you can set daily limits for how long your child can use their phone for the whole day. You can also set time limits on apps to manage how much time they can spend on a specific app each day. Creating a bedtime is another screen time option. When screen time limits are met, the smartphone will lock. Your child won’t be able to unlock the phone to use it. They also will not be able to see notifications. However, they can answer phone calls and tap “Emergency” to make a phone call. If the parent needs to unlock or lock the phone at any time, this can be done within the parent’s Google Family Link app. You can also use Google Family Link’s app activity reports to see which apps your child is using most.
Allow or Block Apps
When your child is downloading an app, they have to ask the parent for permission to download the app. On the phone, your child will have to choose to “Ask Now” or “Ask in a Message”. In the parent’s phone, they will get an instant notification if “Ask Now” was selected. If “Ask in a Message” was selected, the parent will need to open the Google Family Link app on their phone to see the approval request. There is a section for Approval Requests that can be found above Manage Settings. Once in the Approval Requests section, you can tap on the app to view more information about it. App requests expire in 24 hours. You can choose to Deny or Approve the app. Choose approve automatically downloads the app on your child’s phone. If you choose deny, they will get a notification that the app request was denied. Later on, if you decide that you want to remove an app from your child’s phone that was previously approved, you can go into the Google Family Link app on your phone and remove access to that app. It will then be deleted from your child’s phone. Re-approving access to an app at a later time is possible as well.
Additionally, you can create settings for the Google Play Store. Simply choose what your child can browse and download on the Play Store. You can set parental controls for each category (apps & games, movies, TV, books, music). This is done in the initial app setup. However, you can make changes to Google Play Store settings in the Google Family Link app.
Managing What Your Child Can Discover Online
When your child is using the Chrome internet browser, you are able to manage their access to websites. You can limit your child to only the websites you’re comfortable with or block specific sites that you don’t want them to visit. Parents also have the option to block explicit sites on Google Search with SafeSearch filters. This setting is designed to hide violent and sexually explicit websites, images, and videos from Google Search results. The SafeSearch setting is on by default for children under 13 whose accounts are managed by Google Family Link. Please note that the SafeSearch filter is not 100% accurate.
How to Set up Google Family Link
Setting up and installing the Google Family Link app includes using both the parent’s phone and child’s phone. Please note that using the Google Family Link app also requires that the parent and child each have their own Google account. When the parent’s phone and child’s phone are ready to set up and install the Google Family Link app, instructions for the installation process can be found here.
More Controls from Twigby
In addition to the parental controls that Google Family Link provides, Twigby’s Self Care also has settings and controls that are useful for parents. Using Self Care online or in the app allows you do to many things to your Twigby account such as pay your bill, monitor your usage, turn features on and off, and more. If you feel the need to turn off talk, text, or data access from your child’s phone for any reason, it can be done in Self Care. Plus, with Twigby’s free Overage Protection, you can prevent your child from exceeding their minutes and data to have control of your monthly bill. There are no surprise charges on your monthly bill!
Sometimes parenting can be a difficult task, especially with how fast technology is growing. Using the Google Family Link app as your parental control is a great tool that every parent can take advantage of to make parenting less stressful. The Google Family Link app is a great resource to manage your child’s phone, set digital ground rules, and gain a better understanding of how your child explores online. We hope you have a better understanding of Google Family Link and how it can benefit you and your child. If you are an Android user, you can download the app from the Google Play Store. If you are an iPhone user, the Google Family Link for parents app can be downloaded from the App Store.