Google Family Link: What It Is and How to Use It

Parental control on Android can limit screen time and keep kids safe

What to Know

  • Set up: Create Google account > install Google Family Link app > create family group and link to child's account.
  • Add people: Create child's Google account > install Family Link app on child's device > sign in with child's credentials.

This article explains what Google Family Link is and how to use it for parental controls.

What Is Google Family Link?

Google Family Link is an Android parental control app. You can use this app to limit the amount of screen time your kids have, monitor their internet activity, and keep them safe from inappropriate sites. Family Link requires that each member have a Google account. Designed for kids 13 and under, Family Link works with Android and iOS 9 devices or later.

Set up a Google Family Link Account

Follow these steps to set up a new Google Family Link account:

  1. Create a Google account for yourself if you don't have one. Begin the process on the Google account signup page.

    Google Account signup
  2. Once you have an account, download the Google Family Link app, which is free.

    Download For:

  3. Once downloaded, open the app and follow the instructions to create a family group and link your account with your child's account.

    Each group can have up to six family members. However, you can only have one Family Link account per device.

    Google Family Link account create

How to Add People to Your Family Link Account

Each member of your Family Link account must have a Google account so you can link it with your Google account.

  1. Create your child's Google account. Enter your credit card information to complete the process.

    The credit card is for the mandatory, refundable $0.30 fee required for federal privacy regulations to ensure parental consent before collecting personal information from children. You can read about this requirement on the Family Link FAQ. The transaction is canceled after the process is completed.

  2. Download the Family Link app to the child's device and sign in with the child's account credentials. You'll receive a notification on your device that your child's device is linked.

  3. Sign in to the child's device with the child's Google account. Your device lets you know when it is linked with your child's device.

  4. Repeat the steps above for every child you'd like to add to Family Link.

Family Link controls also extend to Chromebooks. When a parent sets up a Chromebook with their child’s Family Link-managed Google account, they can add a school account for their child, enabling their children to use school apps under parent supervision.

Manage the Apps Your Child Downloads

As soon as your child downloads an app, your device receives a notification. The notification includes the name of the app, the app's publisher, and the number of downloads accumulated.

The information also includes the maturity rating, based on the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) content ratings. Apps with a G rating are safer than those with an E rating, which are for kids ages 6 and older. A T rating is for ages 13 and up.

You can approve or deny any app that doesn't meet your standards. For any app you approve, you can disable in-app purchases.

Use Family Link to Set Limits on Screen Time

Family Link allows you to set a daily limit and bedtime, which shut down the device. These times can be customized by day.

You can also lock your child's device with the Lock Devices Now feature. The device instantly shuts down until you turn off the setting.

These features function even if the child's device is not connected to the internet.

Use Google Family Link to Know Where Your Kids Are

With Google's location analytics, you have the added security of knowing where your child is as long as they're using their device.

Google Map locating device

In addition to giving you parental control over your child's screen time, Family Link keeps tabs on where their device is located, and, based on whether the activity log shows if your child is on the device, where they are. This feature is optional.

Control and Monitor Chrome Browsing Activity

Parents can use Family Link to set restrictions on how children browse the web. Controls include filters for mature websites, although Google acknowledges that some offensive sites may get through. You can also block and allow specific sites. Kids can ask for permission to visit a site on the block list, and you can approve or deny access through Google Family Link.

On the Family Link app, go to Settings > Manage settings > Filters on Google Chrome > Manage sites > Approved or Blocked.

Google does not block ads, and ads are seen by children when using Family Link.

Adults can also see and delete a child's Chrome history. To view the child's history, use the child's device to open Chrome. Select the More menu (three vertical dots) then choose History.

To delete the Chrome history and data, open the Family Link app. Go to Settings > Manage settings > Filters on Google Chrome > Chrome Dashboard. In the History section, tap Clear history.

Review Your Child's Digital Footprint

If you want to know how much time your child spends online and what apps are their favorites, find the answer in Family Link. Family Link keeps a log of where your child spends their digital time. Weekly and monthly reports let you see which apps were accessed, how long apps were used, and the device's location.

Support Your Child's Screen Time with Nutritious Apps

Google harnessed the help of teachers to create a curated list of apps with educational value. These apps meet the Google Designed for Families (DFF) program requirements, and are valued by teachers for the ability to ensure time spent on devices is time well spent.

What Happens When Your Child Turns 13?

On a child's 13th birthday, they can graduate to a full-fledged adult Google account, with all the access you have to apps, websites, videos, and games. Google sends parents an email informing them that their child can take control of their account on their birthday. After that, the parent can no longer manage their child's account.

How to Remove a Child From Google Family Link

When you're ready to let go of the reins, you can remove members from your Family Link group.

  1. Access the accounts page on the Family Link app on your device or the Google Family page.

  2. Select Menu > Account > Family > Manage Family Members.

  3. Tap the name of the child you want to remove, then tap More > Remove Member > Remove.

How to Delete Your Child's Google Account

To delete a child's Google account, either use the app on your phone or visit the Google Family page. Once you're logged in, select your child's name, then go to Settings > Manage Settings > Account Info > Delete Account.

Before deleting your child's account, back up any documents, emails, or photos your child added to the account. When the account is deleted, all files are deleted.

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