Google’s Family Link app just launched in India, and it's a glimpse of what parenting looks like in the modern age

(Child talking on the phone. Photo Source: Maxpixel)
  • Google just launched the Family Link app in India, allowing parents to have a certain degree of control over how children use their mobile phones.
  • As compared to other applications on the Google Play Store, the Family Link app allows parents a certain degree of control without violating their kid’s privacy.
  • The Family Link application also gives children the option to opt out of supervision, if necessary, and provide full disclosure over what parents will be able to see in terms of their mobile phone usage.
Excessive use of mobile phones is detrimental for adults but even more so for children. The technology giant, Google, is looking to come to the rescue with the launch of their Google Family Link app in India.

The global launch of the app happened last year, but it’s only recently become available in India’s Play Store. Google’s new solution for parental control over children's’ mobile usage lets parents monitor which apps their kids have access to, and how much time they spend using a mobile phone, disabling their mobile phones altogether if required. However, their children can choose to opt out of supervision as they can see what they can control.

Rather than giving parents absolute control over their children’s devices, the Family Link app lets parents supervise mobile phone usage without encroaching on their children’s privacy. The notion that parents will be ‘spying’ on their children is negated in the format that Google has set up.

Other options in Play Store are wrought with limitations and are often require in-app purchases for effective control, if it’s not a paid app to begin with. Google’s Family Link App, on the other hand, provides quite an extensive degree of control while also being free to use.


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There are two parts to the app

There are two parts to the app

Setting up Google's Family Link app

Setting up Google's Family Link app

The Family Link App has two parts: one for the parents and another for children. As a parent, you would download the Google Family Link for Parents where you can set yourself up as the family manager. As the family manager, you can add your spouse to the group to help with supervision and create Google accounts for your children if they’re not already set up.

Once you have set up a Google account for your kids, you have to install the Google Family Link for Children & Teens on the phone that you wish you supervise.

Your children will know the extent of your control — and they can choose to opt out

Your children will know the extent of your control — and they can choose to opt out

Rather than being an application that runs in the background or keeps features hidden from children, the app very clearly shows what parents can and can’t do on their children’s phones.

The app also gives children the option to stop supervision but that comes with its own terms and conditions. The parents will be notified and children will temporarily be locked out of the device until the reversion of supervision has been authorised.

Supervision means supervision, not absolute control

Supervision means supervision, not absolute control

While the application does give parents the power to monitor how their children are using their mobile phones, it does not entail absolute control. Parents won’t have the power to remotely format the device, reset any passwords or see exactly what’s flashing on your screen. That means, while parents will know that their kids were using Google Chrome, they won’t be able to see which websites were visited. The same goes for Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

While parents will know how much time was spent on each app, they won’t be privy to in-app activity.

Varying degrees of control

Varying degrees of control

What’s particularly nifty is that the app can apply parental controls across multiple devices that have been synced with the same account. So if a child has more than one mobile phone at their disposal, settings and supervision for each device can be customised at the parents discretion.

And while parents won’t be able to see in-app activity, they can set restrictions on what they consider to be age appropriate content for their children.

App-specific restrictions

App-specific restrictions

The Family Link for Parents app covers the primary bases of being able to enable safe search and disabling location history for their children’s devices. And while parents can filter apps that are available to download by age, they can also choose to block certain apps altogether if required.

It’s interesting to note that while Google’s new application does give parents control over their children’s devices, it does so without violating their privacy. And for parents, they can implement filters as per their comfort level with the option of adjusting those controls as circumstances change.

The Family link app works on all Android devices that are running on Android Nougat, Android Oreo and Android Pie but only select Marshmallow devices.

See also:
Bill Gates is surprisingly strict about his kids' tech use - and it should be a red flag for the rest of us

I was terrified that smartphones would harm my toddler, but the latest research suggests there are benefits

France has banned all children under 15 from using their phones in school

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