Google is Bringing Parental Controls to Android

Posted on March 15, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Android with 9 Comments

Google is Bringing Parental Controls to Android

Google today announced a new Android app called Family Link that lets parents create Google accounts for their children. However, it requires the very latest Android version, 7.0 Nougat.

“The devices we carry every day open up a world of information for us to explore, sparking our curiosity and creativity,” Google VP Pavni Diwanji writes. “But when it comes to our kids using those same devices, it’s tricky. We want them to explore and be inspired as they embark on their digital adventure, but every family feels differently about what their kids should and shouldn’t be able to do on their device.”

To respond to this need, Google has created the Family Link app for Android. This app lets a parent create a Google Account for each of their children. This account works much like the parent’s account on compatible devices, but it provides parental control oversight so that you can do things like “set certain digital ground rules that work for your family – like managing the apps your kid can use, keeping an eye on screen time, and setting a bedtime on your kid’s device.”

To use Family Link, you will need an Android 7.0-based device, and you must create your child’s Google account using that app. From there, child account management works much like it does with other parental controls systems, like Microsoft Family. You can approve or block apps, monitor screen time and set activity limits, remotely lock the device at bedtime, and so on.

Family Link has a few usage limitations for now. The app is US-only for the time being, as is so often the case. But it’s also in an early-access program, so you will need to request an invite. Google says it will expand the app availability over time, and improve it based on user feedback.

You can learn more at the Google Family Link website.


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Comments (9)

9 responses to “Google is Bringing Parental Controls to Android”

  1. ben55124

    Awe, the googlers are finally getting around to having children. Microsoft's kids must have gone off to college since they got rid of kids corner.

  2. wolters

    The little known Microsoft Family Safety is awesome and powerful and which it would have received more attention. It even worked on Windows Phone so losing kids corner wasn't a big deal.

    Since I've had to go to Android for my mobile/tablet needs, I am glad to see this and I hope it works as well as Microsoft Family Safety.

  3. jeffrye

    Sounds like Google just invented MS Family Safety - although it's not as integrated... Oh well, better than nothing I suppose.

  4. Jack Smith

    This is slick. I like the similar feature with the Google WiFi. But it is does not work for wired ethernet and get why as no login. But hope that Google will enable like they do with instant tethering with the Google WiFi.

    Google is really killing it of late with features. Really like the new YouTube app where you can watch a video together.

  5. Mike_Peluso

    I can honestly say this is a huge deal for my family and I only hope it grows. We had adopted a teen and got thrown into the world of the connected generation. We needed a cell phone monitoring solution quickly and found there were no real quality solutions for the last few years. We used Watchdog but even that was expensive and abysmal. I quickly came to the solution that if the platform holder didn't design and integrate it at the OS level, it won't be done properly. Ideally, as a parent, I want to see everything going on at all times. I hope over the next few years they won't drop this, and will iterate on it allowing parents more granular control of the devices.