If you’ve ever wanted to keep tabs on your under-13 child’s online activities when you’re at work or busy around the house, that wish is finally granted. Google has launched a new tool for parents, called Family Link, an Android app that provides a way to keep tabs on their preteen kids and their smartphone activity.
Kids are accessing online devices earlier than ever before, and it’s not a trend that parents have been able to resist. And why should they? But the problem is, unsupervised access for younger kids could potentially lead to disastrous situations.
Family Link seeks to find a middle-ground solution for that problem, by giving kids authentic Google accounts with access to most of their services, such as search and Maps, but under a system where parental approval is required for various actions.
How to Set Up Family Link
First of all, you need the app downloaded on your Android device and create a Family Group on Google. To this parent-managed group account, you can now create and add a Google account for your kid, for which Google charges 30 cents as a verification fee of sorts.
You won’t be able to use an old Google account for this. Everything needs to be set up within the Family Link app on the parent’s device. The parent-side app also has a list of Google pre-installed apps that parents have to individually select or deselect, depending on whether the kids are allowed to use it or not.
How Does Family Link Work?
Now, you can set up the new Google account on your child’s device. Most of Google’s services will be available, except for restricted ones. Think of it like working at a company and being restricted by the company’s Internet usage policies.
Your child will be able to use all the allowable services, but these apps have to first be rated by the parent, like E for Everyone, T for Teen and so on. If there’s an app you don’t want your kid to have access to, such as search or Hangouts, you can simply deselect those apps.
Certain apps, such as YouTube and Android Pay are disabled by default, and you can’t turn them on for your child’s device. But there’s YouTube Kids, which has some great age-appropriate content.
The Side Effect of Family Link
When you think about the possible reasons Google could have for creating such an app, the first thing that comes to mind is ‘to raise an entire generation of Android users.’ Think about that for a minute. By creating a platform for kids, Google will effectively get these kids hooked on to Google’s many apps.
In the bargain the Android platform benefits as well, because what these kids grow up with now is what they’ll be more comfortable with later on. Can you imagine a kid using Google Maps for several years, and then suddenly switching to Apple Maps on an iOS device when they’re 18?
Of course, the kid may grow up to be an Apple fan, for all we know, but they’ll be so used to Google’s apps that they’re not likely to use anything else for the rest of their lives – at least, not for all the essential stuff that Google does so well, like Search, Maps, Google Play Music, Google Play Movies & TV and so on.
That’s the hook Google is putting out there. Of course, we have no way of knowing the real motive behind Google’s actions. At the very least, we can call it a side effect of Family Link.
For more details on the Family Link app, please visit the official site.
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