Google’s Family Link will let you manage your child’s phone use
Manage apps, control screen time and send their phone to bed in Australia from this week.
The issue of mobile usage amongst younger Australians is undeniably a contentious one. Mobiles are a large part of the lives of young Australians, but many parents are understandably concerned about excessive screen time or possibly inappropriate online content access.
Google has announced via its local blog that from this week in Australia, parents will be able to use its Family Link service on Android devices.
Family Link allows you to set up a child account for any user under 13 years old when performing the first installation of a new Android device, at which point the relevant adult can set guidelines for app usage as well as receiving detailed reports on actual phone usage over a period of time.
It's worth noting that children are creative individuals and may be more tech-savvy than you are. Family Link may be helpful, but it's also advisable to talk to your kids about acceptable usage parameters and rules so they're aware of what they're allowed to do online in the first place. In other words, set rules so they know what the guidelines are, as well as using tools like Family Link to enforce them.
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What can I do with Google Family link?
Google Family link works via a secondary device (typically, that's going to be your own mobile handset) running the Family Link app and signed into the group account. From there, you can:
- Manage your child's screen time: You can set daily usage limits and a hard device "bedtime", as well as seeing how much time your child is spending with specific apps
- Check your child's location: As long as your child's phone is network and data-connected, you should be able to see where it is (or where it last was if they've lost it)
- Change account settings: Passwords and access to apps can be managed via Family Link.
- Restrict mature content on Google Play: Don't want your child viewing M-rated (or stronger) material on Google Play? You can restrict their access.
Which Android phones are compatible with Family Link?
According to Google's support documentation, any phone running Android 7.0 ("Nougat") and selected handsets on Android 6.0 ("Marshmallow") are compatible with Google Family Link. That could prove problematic if you've handed down your older Android handset to your offspring and it's not had an Android update to the latest versions of Google's mobile operating system.
On the reporting and control front, any Android handset running Android 4.4 ("KitKat") or even iPhone devices on iOS 9 or better can manage a Family Link compatible handset.
How can I check which version of Android my child's phone is using?
The process for checking Android versions varies a little depending on both Android version and any customisations the manufacturer may have made, but broadly speaking, if you open up Settings, then scroll down (or in some cases tab across) to the About Phone section it should tell you which version of Android it is running.