Google Family Link: A Complete Guide to Parental Control on Android

Last Updated: October 17, 2018
Google Family Link: Complete Guide

Google Family Link, a mobile app (available for both Android and iPhone) helps you monitor and control the smartphone usage of your kids/teens. Plus, Family Link also allows you to set different kind of restriction levels based on the age of your kids. Parents, are you looking for a solution to control kid’s SmartScreen activity, this is going to be an ideal solution for Parental Control. Before we jump into details, the Google Family Link will work well with Android, with all features. If you are an iOS user, still you can use Google Family Link on your iPhone. However, for iOS users, there is an exclusive guide for parental control; iOS ScreenTime: A Complete Guide to Parental Control.

Let’s see how Family Link will help you to create healthy digital habits for your Family.

Content

  1. How to use Family Link for Parental Control?
  2. How to Set up Family Link on Parent’s device?
  3. How to Set up Family Link on Child’s device?
  4. How to Set Parental Controls on Chrome?
  5. How to Turn Safe Search ON using Family Link?
  6. How to Set Bedtime using Family Link?
  7. How to Set Parental Controls on Google Play?
  8. How to Hide Apps using Family Link?
  9. How to monitor your Child’s Screen Time?
  10. How to Set Daily Limits using Family Link?
  11. How to Lock Child’s device using Family Link?
  12. How to Track Kid’s Location using Family Link?
  13. Google Family Link: What’s missing?

How to use Family Link for Parental Control?

You will be curious to find out how Google Family Link will help you to reduce your kid’s addiction towards the smartphones. Using Family Link, you can control the settings for the following Google services on your kid’s device:

  1. Google Play (Apps, Games, Books, Music)
  2. Chrome
  3. Google Search

This is not the end. In addition to these Google Service controls, you can also track your family member’s location using the Family Link. A good relief, when your kids go out and you want to make sure they are safe.

How to Set up Family Link on Parent’s device?

Only an Adult can create a family group on Google and add other members to that. To proceed, you have to download and install the Family Link on your smartphone. If you are using an Android phone, make sure that your device is running on Android 5.0 or above. For iOS, you need to have at least iOS 9 or higher. Otherwise, Family Link won’t work on your device. Please use the download link gove below, if you don’t have the app on your phone already.

Android family link create child account

  1. Open the Family Link app on your phone.
  2. Follow the on-screen instructions and choose the Google account (Gmail) from which you would like to create the family group.
  3. Tap the Next button. If you need to switch to a different Google account, then tap Switch. Otherwise, tap the Continue button.
  4. Here, you will see a message “Does your child have a Google Account” with two options Yes and No. If your child already has a Google Account, then tap Yes, skip the steps related to creating a new account. Otherwise, tap No to create a new Google account for your child. (In this example, I have tapped No button).
  5. Keep tapping the Next buttons, until you see a screen titled Create a Google Account. Here, enter the First and Last names of your child and tap the Next button.
  6. Next, follow the on-screen instructions to enter the date of birth, username, and password for your child’s account.
  7. Then, you need to enter your payment information (for authentication). Once you finish that, read the Parental Consent and tap the Agree button.
  8. Finally, you will see a message “You created a Google Account” for X (X is the name of your child) with a Next button. (Let’s talk about this button later)

Now, you have successfully created the Google Account for your child. Next, you need to connect your child’s device to the Family Link app. Let’s see how to do that.

Download Google Family Link for Parents from PlayStore | iTunes

How to Set up Family Link on Child’s Device?

For Child’s devices, Family Link will work well if the Android version is at least 7.0 or higher. Even though the app may work on devices with Android 5.0 or higher, The Google Family Link prenatal app will have some limitations. Now, you need to bring the Child’s device and keep that near the parent’s device.

Android Family link connect child device

  1. Tap the Next button (Step 8 of the previous section) on the parent’s device.
  2. On the child’s device, log in to the Google Account of your child using his/her username and password. (If you had connected any other Google Accounts, then you need to remove all of them. Because the app allows only one child account per device).
  3. Then, the screen will show the Gmail account of the parent and prompts to enter the password for the same. (This is done to make sure that only the parent is accessing the child’s device).
  4. Next, follow the on-screen instructions to install the Family Link app on your child’s device.
  5. Then, the screen will prompt you to enter a name for your child’s device. Either you can use the default name shown or you can create your own name for the device.
  6. Here, you will see a screen titled Review apps which shows the list of apps that are not designed for children. Just select the apps that can be allowed on your child’s device and tap the Next button.
  7. Now, follow the on-screen instructions to activate the Family Link on your child’s device.
  8. Finally, you will arrive at the screen titled “Your devices are connected“.

Now, you have installed the Family Link app on both the devices and established the connection between those devices as well. Next, you need to configure the parental control from your phone to limit your child’s device usage. We will see those in detail in the following sections.

How to Set Parental Controls on Chrome?

For toddlers or smaller kids, you can hide the Google Chrome app itself as there is no need for them to use any browser. However, you cannot do that for bigger kids. Instead, you can set restrictions on the type of content they can access.

Android Family link restrict web

  1. Open the Family Link app on your phone.
  2. Tap Menu icon on the left and tap the name of the child.
  3. Tap the MANAGE SETTINGS option located just below the child’s name.
  4. Select the option Filters on Google Chrome from the list.
  5. Now, you will see three options as given below:
    – a. Allow all sites: No restrictions
    – b. Try to block mature sites: To block all the adult-related content.
    – c. Only allow certain sites: Provides access only to the websites in the given list.
  6. To add your own websites to the list (for options b and c), tap the text MANAGE SITES below the option. If you need to allow a site, tap Approved. Otherwise, tap Blocked. Tap the ‘+’ icon and enter the URL of the website which needs to be allowed or blocked.

Repeat the Step 6 to add many websites as you like. Once this option is set, your child cannot access any other website from the list without getting your permission.

How to Turn Safe Search ON using Family Link?

Sometimes, it may not be enough only if you had set the restrictions on your browser. What will happen if some explicit content gets listed on the Search results? To avoid that, switch ON the Safe Search option on your child’s device.

Android Family Link Safe search

  1. Open the Family Link app on your phone.
  2. Tap the Menu icon on the left and tap the name of the child.
  3. Tap MANAGE SETTINGS option located just below the child’s name.
  4. Select the option Filters on Google Search from the list.
  5. Toggle the position of the switch to the right to turn Safe Search ON.

This filter may help to avoid the explicit content from being displayed on the Search results.

How to Set Bedtime using Family Link?

Is your kid playing games on his/her device during bedtime? Don’t worry. Using Family Link, now you can easily block their access by setting a bedtime schedule. And, you can set different time schedule for all 7 days a week.

Android Family Link Set bedtime

  1. Open the Family Link app on your phone and tap Menu icon on the left. Tap the name of the child.
  2. Scroll down to find Bedtime and tap the text EDIT SCHEDULE.
  3. Make sure that the Scheduled switch is toggled to the right and set the bedtime for the 7 days in a week. If you don’t wish to set bedtime for a particular day, you can tap on the circle on that row to turn it off. (You will see a ‘tick’ symbol on the circle if bedtime is set. Otherwise, it will be blank).
  4. Tap the Save option on the top right to save your settings.

Once the bedtime is reached, your child’s device will get locked and cannot be unlocked without entering a parent passcode. And, as a parent, if you want to give an excuse or some additional time, you can use the passcode to extend the time. The passcode can be obtained from the Family Link app on the Parent’s device.

Related: How to Set Downtime on iOS? Take a Break from your iPhone

How to Set Parental Controls on Google Play?

Based on your kid’s age, you can set restrictions on the type of content that can be either downloaded or purchased from the Google Play. Let’s see how to do that.

Android Family Link restrict google play

Set Parental Controls on Android Apps & Games

  1. Open your Family Link app.
  2. Select the child and tap MANAGE SETTINGS.
  3. Now, tap the option Controls on Google Play.
  4. Tap Apps & games from the list. Here, you will find 5 different restrictions based on age. (3+, 7+, 12+, 16+, 18+). Select the option based on your child’s age.

Now, your child can see only the relevant apps on the Google Play Store. However, this restriction won’t block the access to an app if it is visited directly using a browser.

Set Parental Controls for Movies on Android.

When you want to limit the type of movies, your kids watch, you can control them through google family link app. You can set restrictions on the movies that are allowed for your kids based on the movie rating.

  1. Navigate to Controls on Google Play. ( Follow steps 1 and 2 from the above section )
  2. Tap Movies from the list.
  3. Choose one of the ratings( U, UA, A, S, Allow all ) from the list. U is considered as the most restrictive option.

The age limit for the movie ratings will vary based on your country and have to be cautious while selecting or limiting the movie category based on that.

Related: How to Set Netflix Parental Controls on Kids Profile

Set Parental Controls for Books & Music

As a parent, you don’t want your kids to access the explicit content from the books/music section. Just turn on the restriction under both sections to limit the content they can see.

  1. Navigate to Controls on Google Play. (Follow steps 1 and 2 from the Apps & Games section)
  2. Tap Books and toggle the position of the switch to the right.
  3. Go back to the Controls screen by tapping the Back Arrow button. Now, tap Music and toggle the switch’s position to the right.

Now, your kids will not be able to access the explicit content from books and music section anymore.

Set Parental Controls for Android App Downloads & Purchases

You don’t want your kids to buy some games and pouring money on digital assets. You can use Family Link to set restrictions not only for the purchases but also for the free downloads as well.

  1. Open your Family Link app, tap Menu icon and select the child.
  2. Tap MANAGE SETTINGS -> Controls on Google Play.
  3. Tap the text Require approval located on the section Purchases & download approvals.
  4. Now, you will see four options:
    All content: Your child needs your approval even to download a free app.
    All purchases using family payment method: Only the paid purchases needs your approval.
    Only in-app purchases: You need to approve only the in-app purchases made by your child.
    No approval required: No restriction

Based on the maturity level and age of your child, you can choose the right option based on your kids’ spending behavior and the weight of your wallet!.

How to Hide Apps using Family Link?

Usually, a bunch of built-in or default apps gets installed on any smartphone. Also, if you have given your old device to the child, then there may be some additional apps on the device. However, most of these apps will not be of any use to your kids. To clear the clutter of apps, you can hide these apps so that your kids won’t fiddle with the apps.

Android Family link hide apps

  1. Open the Family Link app on your phone and tap Menu icon on the left. Tap the name of the child.
  2. Tap the MANAGE SETTINGS option located just below the child’s name.
  3. Select the option Android apps from the list.
  4. Now, you will see two tabs titled ALLOWED and BLOCKED. If you need to block an app, move that from Allowed to Blocked by tapping on that app. Then, toggle the “Allow App” switch to OFF. Likewise, if you can do the same to allow an app by moving that from Blocked to Allowed. In this case, you need to toggle the position of the switch to the right.

Now, the apps listed on the BLOCKED section will no longer be shown on your child’s device. No more clutter of apps on your Kids’ phone. You can reverse the steps above if you want to retrieve any apps that you turned off from Kids’ device.

How to Monitor Your Child’s Screen Time?

By using the Family Link app on your device, you can view how your kid is using the Android/iOS device. For example, you can find out the list of apps and the time spent by your kid with those on a day. You can view the Daily/Weekly/Monthly report.

Android family link view report

  1. Open the Family Link app on your phone and tap Menu icon on the left. Tap the name of the child.
  2. Scroll down to view Today’s activity. Tap the MORE button to view the activity reports for week/month.

You can have this handy report at any time on the parent device. Based on the report, you can find out your kid’s addictive apps and how much time they spent on the apps. It’s the time to limit the addictive apps, and go ahead with time limits for the same.

Related: How to Get a Kid’s Screen Time Report on iOS

How to Set Daily Limits using Family Link?

Family Link doesn’t provide an option to set time limits for individual apps. However, you can set a daily time limit so that your child can only use the device for the specified time interval. For example, if you had set 2 hours, then your child can use the device only for 2 hours on that day.

Android Family Link Daily Limit

  1. Open the Family Link app on your phone and tap Menu icon on the left. Tap the name of the child.
  2. Scroll down to find Daily Limit and tap the text EDIT LIMITS.
  3. Make sure that the Scheduled switch is toggled to the right and set the daily limit for the 7 days in a week. If you don’t wish to set the time limit for a particular day, then you can tap on the circle on that row to turn it off. ( You will see a ‘tick’ symbol on the circle if the time limit is set. Otherwise, it will be blank ).
  4. Tap the Save option on the top right to save your settings.

Once the daily time limit is reached, your child’s device will get locked and cannot be unlocked without entering a parent passcode. ( The passcode can be obtained from the Family Link app on the Parent’s device )

Related: How to Set Daily App Limits on iOS using Screen Time

How to Lock Child’s Device using Family Link?

Family Link provides a handy feature to lock your child’s device remotely. For example, if your kid has done something crazy and you are unhappy about that, you can just lock his/her device from your phone. Or do you want to think about some family time or “screen away” time. pretty cool option? Right.

Android Family Link lock device

  1. Open the Family Link app on your phone and tap Menu icon on the left. Tap the name of the child.
  2. Scroll down to find the name of your child’s device. Below the text Unlocked, you will see the clickable text LOCK NOW. Tap that text to lock your child’s device. By default, the device will be locked until the bedtime limit.
  3. If you need to unlock the device before that, just tap the text UNLOCK. And the device will be unlocked immediately.

Do remember that you can lock/unlock your child’s device only from your phone. It’s a pretty good solution to give your kids some resting time and keep them away from bluescreen lights.

How to Track Kid’s Location using Family Link?

You can easily track the location of your child’s device if you enable the location sharing on the Family Link. Sometimes, kids will be searching for their phones without knowing where they had kept the same. During that time, you can use this option to track your child’s device. However, you need to turn on the location sharing for that.

Android Family Link Track location

  1. Open the Family Link app on your phone and tap Menu icon on the left. Tap the name of the child.
  2. Select and tap the option Location from the list.
  3. Toggle the position of the switch titled See your child’s location to the right. Then, tap the button TURN ON.
  4. Tap the back arrow of the next screens to go back to your main screen. Now, you can see the location of your child’s device.

If you have more than one kid, then repeat the above procedure to turn on location sharing for all of them. This is coming very handy when you guys go for a family vacation.

Related: How to Track Friends using Android or iPhone

Google Family Link: What’s missing?

Even though Google Family Link provides a lot of options to set restrictions on the child’s device and monitor their usage, I find few limitations. (as a parent)

  • You cannot add more than one child account per device. i.e If you have two kids, you need two separate devices for them. Isn’t that expensive?
  • If the child’s device gets locked after the time limit, you need to enter the parent passcode. To get the passcode, you need to open the Family Link app on your phone. Why can’t the parent unlock the device by using their own passcode?
  • After the parent passcode is entered to unlock the device, the time limits are removed for rest of the day. Instead, an option to extend the time limit by 15, 30 or 60 minutes would be nice.

Have you used the Google Family Link app? Has it helped to improve the Parental control? Please share your thoughts in comments. 

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