What is Google “Family Link” and how does it work?

Through “Family Link”, Google offers an application that helps parents accompany their children on their way to the digital world. What are the benefits of Family Link? What can the app do and what can’t it do? We take a closer look at these questions in this article.

At some point, all parents are faced with the question: When is the right time to give my child a mobile phone or smartphone? This question cannot be answered in general. Ultimately, it depends on the conditions of the framework, what you are confident your child is capable of and how well your child has developed. Family Link by Google aims to help bring children closer to the digital world.

Before using Family Link, as a parent, think carefully about what you want to use the app for. Talk openly about the topic and involve your child in the conversation. Because one thing should never happen under any circumstances: Using Family Link as a pure tracking and monitoring tool. Your child also enjoys privacy.

So first we would like to show you what the app can do and what things are not possible with it.

Your child gets a Google account and thus access to the email they were registered with on their smartphone or tablet. Normally, young people in Germany can only legally create a Google account at the age of 13. Thus, Family Link is eliminating this regulation for young children – also in a legal way with parental consent.

If your child wants to download an app from the Google Play Store, they need parental consent first. If this happens, he can download the app. Parents also receive a message for so-called in-app purchases. This is how Family Link prevents uninformed and paid purchases.

Family Link also shows parents the total number of minutes their child has spent using their smartphone or tablet. The application also provides information about the applications to which the usage time is distributed. For each app on the child’s device, you can set how long they can use the respective software. When the time is up, the app will automatically close.

The application also has a sleep mode. For example, your child’s device can only be used between 7am and 7pm. After that, all functions are blocked, except for the “emergency call”. The child can then at least make phone calls through this “gap”, which makes sense in the event of a real emergency.

Parents have the ability to filter search content, for example. Age-appropriate filters can also be activated in apps. However, you should be aware that these filters never provide complete protection. The app also comes with a GPS tracker. So parents can know where their child is at any time when the function is activated. You can also turn off the tracking function. By the way: If you track your child’s location, your child will receive a message on their device. So, talk openly with your child about it.

Also Read: Top 5 Tablets for Kids of All Ages

According to Google, the filters in Family Link do not provide 100% protection against adult content. For example, a child can also see age-inappropriate photos and clips when searching on Google or via YouTube. In addition, Family Link provides up-to-date information about the amount of time a child spends with the device per day. However, parents do not know what content their children are watching on YouTube or other channels, for example.

Family Link does not block ads. Thus, children also encounter it. If your child is under the age of 13, Google may not use data from your smartphone or tablet to display ads tailored to children.

Once a child turns 13, the parents must renegotiate. Because then he can decide for himself, for example, whether the GPS tracker is turned off.

Read also: How to properly prepare children for the Internet

Once you clear up all the open questions within your family, there is nothing standing in the way of installing Family Link. Allow about 15 minutes for the entire process. It is best to install the application with your child.

To use Family Link, a parent must create a family group with their own Google Account. Then the creator is also the administrator and can add other family members. Family Link can be set up using an iOS or Android device. The application can be downloaded for free from the respective stores.

First of all, one has to install Family Link on the parents device. It makes sense for them to do the installation with their children, because they always need the smartphone or tablet of the child. In the next step, the parents will be asked for their child’s Google account. If you haven’t created one yet, you can do so here. The account is necessary to add the child to the family group.

A nine-digit code will now appear on the device, which parents must enter on their child’s device and confirm with a password. The “Login” button will appear, click on it. Now the child is registered as a member of the family group.

It now keeps track of information about what’s possible with Family Link and what’s not. We’ve already included that above. Read the information with your child. When everything is clear, simply confirm parental supervision by clicking Allow. Also enable Family Link Manager.

The app will ask for a device name on the child’s device. Pick a name together and write it down. Below is a list of applications. They are rated according to the USK age rating, ranging from 0 to 18 or older, and are therefore not suitable for minors. Review the list together and decide with your child which applications are appropriate to install and which are not.

Then take care of parental control settings, such as filters or other restrictions. There are default settings for this. Of course, you also have the option to select filters according to your own specifications.

This completes the basic installation. As an administrator, Family Link now gives parents the option to make additional settings. The main focus here is on usage limitations. We recommend the following settings:

  • Control what your child can download from the Play Store and what requires permission. You can also customize what content your child can see, whether it’s an app, game, movie, series, book, or music. It is best to select the appropriate USK age rating here.
  • In Google Chrome settings, select “Block adult sites” and enable Safe Google Search.
  • For YouTube videos, choose the setting appropriate for your child’s age.

In the early days, use the App Activities menu item to monitor what programs your child uses and for how long. Discuss this with your child and set time limits for individual applications if necessary. Make sure to set the times when your child’s device automatically goes to sleep. Set these times in a way that makes sense for your child.

Also Read: Account Verification for Kids – Useful or Too Early?

conclusion

Family Link offers parents a great deal of assistance in accompanying their children on their way to the digital world. However, do not abuse the app as a tracking and monitoring tool. Without trust, your child will not be able to find his own way in the jungle of the web.

Be more than a trusted companion. Talk to your child about his or her experiences in the digital world. Listen carefully, show interest. And very important: As parents, be role models. If you stick your head in your smartphone or tablet for hours, your child will, too.

Family Link creates a good framework for your child to find their way around the first steps in the digital world. But remember, good is not perfect. Even the best filters have weaknesses. Therefore, look lovingly over your child’s shoulder from time to time and talk to your child in advance about possible questionable content.

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