Google Launches Family Link To Help Parents Track Their Kids' Online Activity and Location
Google is officially expanding its user base to children below 13 years old with the launch of the Family Link app for Android.
Previously, preteens are not allowed to have their own Gmail accounts, upload pictures to Google photos, leave comments on YouTube videos, or anything else that requires their own Google account. Children had to either lie about their age to sign up for a Google account or use those of their parents.
With the Family Link app, preteens can now legally have their own Google accounts, under the supervision of their parents.
Google Family Link Now Online
In the official page for Family Link, the currently invite-only app is described as a way for parents "to stay in the loop" as their children explore their Android smartphones and tablets.
After the Family Link app is all set-up with the accounts of parents and their children all connected, a variety of parental controls is opened up. Parents will be able to block their kids from using and downloading certain apps, and will gain access to monthly or weekly reports on which apps their children are using the most.
Parents will also be able to set the "bedtime" of their children for each day, such as only allowing their Android device to be used until 7 p.m. during weekdays but until much later during weekends. Parents can also set a number of hours that a child can use his or her Android device per day.
The physical location of children can also be tracked using the Family Link app, with other controls given to parents including setting up a new unlock code in case children forget their own and setting the apps that are able to access the device's microphone and camera.
Once a child with an account under the Family Link app hits 13 years old, parents can choose to continue with the set-up. However, Google will also be sending an invitation to the teenager to upgrade his or her Google account to a regular one, along with a birthday greeting.
How To Sign Up For Google Family Link
For parents to be able to receive an invitation to try out Family Link, they would have to click on the Request Invite button on the app's official page. Through Family Link, parents will create a Google account for their children, who should have their own Android-powered device running Android 7.0 Nougat or higher. Parents should of course have their own Google account and Android smartphone or tablet, though the requirement for them is only Android 4.4 KitKat or higher, with families looking to take advantage of Family Link needed to be in the United States.
When setting up an account, parents will be charged 30 cents, which is not a revenue source for Google but rather a requirement by the Federal Trade Commission for verifiable parental consent when companies collect personal information on children. Payments through credit cards is the easiest method, with parents even able to object to the collection after the charge if they want to keep their 30 cents.
Google said that it will be rolling out Family Link to other countries outside of the United States soon, but no dates have been revealed for the wide rollout.