Google Family Link app explained – what parents need to know

Managing a child’s digital life can be challenging as the online world continues to grow at a fast pace. The new Google Family Link, designed for under 13s, can be a great tool to help children navigate the digital world safety and build safer online habits.

See how this tool can help give parents controls and support children as they develop online.

What is Google Family Link?

Family Link is a free app that works with Android and iOS devices to allow parents to keep track of their children’s digital activity.

What are the key benefits of the app for parents?

Once the app is set up on both the parent and child’s device, it allows parents to remotely approve and block apps on the child’s device, manage screen time and remotely lock the device when it’s time to play, study or sleep.

Can it also block inappropriate content?

Family Link doesn’t block inappropriate content but some apps will have their own filtering options such as Google Search and Chrome. Make sure to review app settings to see what works best for your child. See our Set Up Safe guides to set controls across a range of apps, devices and platforms.

What devices can the app be used on?

You will need a device that runs on Android Nougat (7.0) or higher an iOS 9 or higher. See the list of compatible devices here.

How does Google Family link work?

Family Link connects your Android or iPhone to your kid’s Android phone or tablet, to help parents set and tailor certain digital ground rules that work for their family, such as:

Manage the apps their child can use

Approve or block the apps the child wants to download from the Google Play Store

Keep an eye on screen time

See how much time their child spends on their favourite apps with weekly or monthly activity reports, and set daily screen time limits for their device

Set device bedtime

See their child’s location

Remotely lock their child’s device when it’s time to play, study, or sleep.

A parent downloads Family Link onto their own device and creates a Google Account for their child through the Family Link app.

How long is the setup process?

Usually about 30 minutes, however, if you run into issues, it may take longer.

Once you download the app, the process is broken down into 3 steps.

  • Step 1 – Downloading the app and checking that you have all you need and entering your Google account – 3 mins
  • Step 2 – Creating your child’s Google account – 10 mins
  • Step 3 – Linking your child’s device with your own through the Family Link app 15 – 20 mins

If a parent runs into trouble in the setup process or beyond is there a place to get support?

The most important thing to check is device compatibility to make sure that you don’t hit a dead end if your child’s device is not able to sync with the app.

If you do have any issues while setting up, visit Google Family Link FAQ page or you can contact Google through the app by navigating to the ‘Help and Feedback’ section of the app and tapping ‘see options’. You will be able to request a ‘Ring back’ or send an email to request support.

Why is it essential to set up a google account for my child? As it is for a child, will this be different to a normal Google account with more safety features?

In order for Google to link your account and identify and help you track what a child is doing on their device, they will need to have a child’s Google account.

It is essential to set up a child’s Google account to identify the child’s device and link it to the parent device to manage how they use their device. Unlike a normal Google account, you can set restrictions remotely on what apps children can access and when they can be used.

What happens when a child gets to 13 years old? How can parents manage that transition?

Family Link only works with Google accounts for children under 13 created via the Family Link app. Once a child turns 13, they can continue to use Family Link if they choose to do so. Teens with existing accounts, however, are not eligible to be managed by Family Link at this time.

Once children reach 13 and are no longer monitored, it’s important to have ongoing conversations about what they do online and allow them to continue to build their resilience online. For more details on how to help children build their digital resilience, see our toolkit created with Dr Linda Papadopoulus.


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