Parental controls are essential. The days of handing a child an unrestricted, unsupervised or unmonitored device, are well and truly in the past. We have literally met thousands of young children who have, and still are, being negatively impacted by their exposure to unsuitable content online. While devices have been designed for children to use, they have not been supplied with the necessary safety features, pre-installed, to protect children. These devices are no more toys, then they are babysitters. Left unrestricted in the hands of a child, content which has the potential to cause serious long-term psychological harm, is always only a click away.
The mega corporations who are creating the digital devices used by children all over the world have finally listened to the voices of parents and stepped up, rolling out FREE Parental Tools to protect devices that are used by younger family members. Today we will look at Google Family Link. How to install it and use it. We would hope to see the set up process of Google Family Link, as part of the initial install on all new devices if future.
What is Google Family Link?
Google Family Link is a mobile app. It is available for both Android and IOS devices. It enables parents to create a specific Google Account for your child. This Google Account is a similar your own account, however once used with the Family Link App, you can now set ground rules for the use of the child's device, such as deciding for yourself,
- Which apps are suitable for your child to use
- How long the child can spend on the Device
- You may wish to set a bedtime cut off on your child's device
- It is also possible to see your child's location at all times with the app.
What Other Features does the App offer?
To be fair, Google have given some consideration for the needs of Parents and their ability to restrict and monitor control devices in the home. This is a full list of the Google Family Link App's Features
- Manage the apps your child can use
- Approve or block apps your child wants from the Google Play Store
- Monitor and Control screen time
- Weekly and monthly activity reports identify what Apps are most used or over used
- 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
It is VERY important to remember,
- Google Family Link will not entirely restrict unsuitable content through searches online.
- You will still need to set restrictions for the search engine on the device.
- Parents also need to be mindful of the types of App permitted for use on the device. If you permit its use, and it contains adult content, Family Link will not block the content as you have permitted the use of the App.
- A perfect example of this is Netflix, you may wish to permit the use of this App on your child's device. If you decide it is acceptable, as you child watches Netflix, then you will need to set the parental controls for Netflix also.
How to Create an Account with Family Link
- Open Google Play or the Apple App Store and Download the App
- Open the Family Link App.
- In the top right of the screen, tap Create – this is to create a new Account for your child and one also for you, if you do not have a Google Account
- Follow the instructions on-screen to create the account.
- When you're done, a confirmation will show on the screen.
Creating a Google Account for your child when you're setting up a NEW DEVICE
- Turn on the new device and follow the instructions on-screen to set up the device.
- When you're asked to sign in with your Google Account. Create new account.
- If you don't see “Create new account,” tap More options first.
- Enter your child's name, birthday, gender, email address, and password.
- Remember never to enter actual names or birth dates. It is important to consider your child's right to privacy.
- Follow the instructions to sign in with your own Google Account, provide parental consent, and pick your child's settings.
Once Google Family Link is installed you can now choose what access and permissions your child is allowed to have on their device. We have a User Guide for each setting listed here. We do recommend setting restrictions on App installation, Screen Time and Purchase Approvals.
Manage devices, apps & screen time
These are links to help you to navigate the individual setting you require to complete the set up of Family Link on your childs device. You may not even need to read through these short and detailed links are the set up process is very straight forward.
- How to Sign your child in on their Android device
- Signing your child in on their iPhone or iPad
- Logging your child in on their Chromebook
- Sign your child in to Google websites
- Manage your child's screen time
- Manage your child's Android apps
- Set up parental controls on Google Play
- Purchase approvals on Google Play
- See & manage your child's Android device location
- Add apps recommended by teachers to your child's device
This is by no means an exhaustive guide to the App and its features. It is an introduction to a tool almost every parent we have encountered has been asking for. We can inform, but parents need to take the initiative to fulfil their role in protecting their children from unsuitable content by installing and using the tools which are now available.
We are all too aware, motivating some parents to take any form of action to protect a child's device, can be really difficult. An attitude of “My child would never look at something like that”, unfortunately does exist. In reality, no one can make such a confident assumption in relation to potential exposure to unsuitable content. It's far better to always have a device suitably restricted, if it's being used by a child.
Please let us know how you get on with Google Family Link. Are your experiences positive or negative with the App? Are you able to follow the installation instructions etc., if we can assist at all we will. Be sure to share the page with other parents of young children.