Your kiddo is all about your smartphone and tablet. She can’t put them down. But you’re concerned about what she’s doing online. Oh, and let’s not forget the apps! She may only be in preschool, but she’s a master when it comes to clicking on that little “Buy” button. What are you to do? Well, Google may have a solution for your e-woes. The new Family Link app lets parents create Google accounts for their young children. Before you rush to download the app, here are five things you should know.
1. It’s for Android devices. The Family Link app won’t work for all Android phones, though. It requires a device that’s running Nougat (7.0) and higher. Some Marshmallow (6.1) devices also make the cut. If you’re totally devoid of any tech-savviness (and plenty of us are), Google provides a handy little list of compatible devices.
2. No teens or adults allowed. Seriously. The app is only for children under 13. There’s no minimum age, though — that’s up to you, the parent. If you’re wondering whether they kick out your kiddo the moment she officially transitions from tween to teen, don’t stress. Kids who aren’t 13, but turn 13 can keep their accounts. But kids who are already teenagers can’t create accounts.
3. You’re in charge. So, yes, it’s technically your child’s account, but Family Link’s main goal is to help you keep an eye on what your child is doing online. You get to manage her apps (approving or blocking downloads), track screen time, and set device bedtimes. Oh, if only getting her to go to bed was that easy!
4. It doesn’t block everything. Don’t let your little one loose, thinking that she’s safe from all inappropriate content online and in apps. Google recommends reviewing your child’s app settings and using filtering tools to keep as much of the not-so-kid-friendly stuff away from her eyes. Family Link is more about managing when your child goes online and what she does, rather than stopping all adult content from coming through. That means you need to be present and stay on top of your child’s account.
5. It’s your child’s profile, not yours. This isn’t your profile that your child uses. This is her profile, and it’s in her name. Some parents may not be completely into the idea of their child having an online account. Yes, there are always privacy issues to deal with, but this also provides a prime opportunity for young children to learn about the internet and online do’s and don’ts — all while under your watchful eye.