As we have traveled the US teaching families about internet safety there has been a common theme. Parents often give their children Android devices. Android devices are a good option for kids since they’re cheaper and easier to get ahold of. The problem with an Android phone or tablet is that there ain’t been a built in way to set restrictions or parental controls. That will be changing very soon.
Google Family Link is the new way that Google is allowing Parents to have more control over their kids Android device use. Google FamilyLink will allow parents to set time restrictions, time limits, and bedtimes as well as monitor the amount of time spent using the device. This will be accomplished by a complete disabling of the device once time limits or restricted times are reached. That’s a unique approach, unlike Circle or UnGlue that uses the wifi or data connection to restrict usage. Disableing the entire device means that even downloaded or offline content won’t be available.
It will be nice to not have to tell parents that there’s no native options for protecting their children on their new Samsung tablet. Here’s the catch. These options will only be available on android devices running their Operating system version 7 or newer. Since we often hand down our older phones to our kids, this will limit the availability of the parental control options on their devices. Newer phones will be running OS 7 but many older models won’t be updated to that new if an OS.
What Parents Should Know
GoigleLink doesn’t set browsing filters or block apps. You will still want to setup family filters and restrictions in certain apps like YouTube, and Google search. Also, you will want to set the age restrictions in The Play Store so they can’t download apps that aren’t appropriate for their age. Finally, As always, talk to your kids about the amount of time they spend online. Discuss healthy media habits and what alternatives they could chose instead of screen time. Let them know what rules you’ve set and why. Remember that rules without discussion will result in conflict.
Family Link is available through invite only with full release scheduled for later this year.
Updated: It is also important to note that existing google accounts won’t work for Family Link. Your kids will need a new account to activate the service.