You can do pretty much anything on a smartphone nowadays. That’s generally a good thing, but it can present a tough balancing problem for parents who want to give young children access to technology while still keeping tabs on what they’re doing.
Google’s new Android app, Family Link, aims to solve that. It lets parents create a Google account for their kids and monitor which apps they can use and how long they’re using them.
To get started, parents need to prep in a few ways:
- Kid needs a new Android device running Android 7.0 Nougat or higher
- Parents need to download Family Link onto their own devices and create an account for their kid.
- Then you need to sign your kid up with the account you created for them.
Once that’s done, parents can whitelist or blacklist apps which apps can install on their kids devices. This brings Google’s introduction of age ratings back in 2015 full circle, as it makes it easy for parents to determine whether apps are kid friendly or not.
Parents can also see exactly how many minutes are spent in each app, view weekly use reports, and even set time limits for how long kids can use their phones. If you really want to put your kid on lockdown for study time or some other reason, you can also remotely lock their device.
Google stresses that the app is meant for children under 13, who technically aren’t supposed to have their own Google accounts yet, and it’s worth reiterating that you need to start with a fresh device for this to work. Still, it could be a useful option for parents who want just a bit more say in how their kids are using their phones.
The app is still only available in preview – parents can sign up to try it out via an early access program.