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Digital Wellbeing and Parental Controls for Android: Complete Guide for Parents

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March 14, 2024

Login as a VIP to learn more about the Android Digital Wellbeing and Parental Controls

This guide will help VIP members learn

  • How Android’s Digital Wellbeing helps “pull you in the direction you want to go instead of pulling you off focus”
  • What Android’s Digital Wellbeing is and why these settings can help parents and students with screen time concerns
  • Get tips on how to talk as a family about screen time
  • See step-by-step directions on how to access the Digital Wellbeing settings:
  • ~Screen time
  • ~Timers for specific apps
  • ~Focus modes
  • ~Bedtime
  • ~Driving monitor
  • ~Google Family Link

Why should parents & educators care?

  • Studies show that too much screen time can impact a child’s cognitive development
  • Tracking how much time your family spends on their devices (and how they spend that time) is a great way to start regulating screen time, building positive habits, and starting conversations based on the usage data
  • The best way to ensure your family's safety online, on devices, and on social media is to have regular and open discussions about digital safety

Login or join the VIP membership today to view all SmartSocial.com resources about Android Digital Wellbeing and Parental Controls!


Become a member or log in to learn more on this topic

Superintendents, Directors and Principals: Request a partnership on this page to unlock our resources for your whole community.
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This is great info, thanks for giving me some ideas on how to start a dialogue with my teen!

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Sharon M.

Parent VIP Member

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Josh's presentation about social media was unbelievably fantastic. Our students learned so much about what kids should and shouldn't be doing. The fact that it is such a thoughtful process made it all worthwhile.

StarStarStarStarStar

Director of College Advising

Educator Webinar Attendee

Quotation marks

This webinar is a very helpful eye-opener on the apps that are popular with my students.

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Irene C.

Educator Webinar Attendee

Digital Wellbeing and Parental Controls for Android: Complete Guide for Parents

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Does your child have an Android device or are you considering buying them one? SmartSocial wants to help you learn to use the systems that are already built into Android devices—"Digital Wellbeing" and "Parental Controls"—so you can monitor how your child is using their Android device and guide them toward positive habits online. Developing positive habits early can have a huge impact on your child's time-management skills, digital safety, and much more.

This guide will help parents learn what Digital Wellbeing is, how to configure it to keep your students safe on their devices; and explain Parental Controls and Family Link.

What is Android’s “Digital Wellbeing”?

Digital Wellbeing Logo
  • Devices that operate on Android operating systems have built-in screen time monitoring and additional controls through the Google Family Link app
  • Digital Wellbeing allows users to set real-time or scheduled screen time rules to help create and enforce good habits while kids are on their devices
  • ~Digital Wellbeing is controlled on each individual device
  • Google Family Link allows parents to set restrictions on screen time and what apps kids can use on their device
  • ~Google Family Link can be controlled and monitored on a parent’s own device (including Apple devices)

Download our Android Parental Controls Quickstart Guide

Does setting up parental controls on your Android phone or device feel overwhelming.

Download our Android Parental Controls Quickstart Guide here and we'll walk you through the process.

Parent and student tips & walk through (video)

What are Parental controls (via Google Family Link)?

Family Link Logo
  • Google Family Link allows parents to set digital “ground rules to help guide [students] as they learn, play, and explore online.” (Source: Google)
  • Parents can view their student’s activity, manage the apps on their Android/Chrome OS devices, and get recommendations of apps for their students
  • Through the Google Family Link on the parent’s own device (including Apple products and web browsers), parents can set device limits for each member in their Google family and even lock the device when it’s time to do something different
  • Students must have their own Google Account and this account must be the only user on the device the parents want to manage with Family Link
  • ~Students under 13 can sign up for an account that is managed by a parent with Family Link (“How to Create a Google Account for Your Child”)
  • ~Students 13 and over have the ability to “stop supervision” on their device according to Google, but parents will be notified and the device will be temporarily locked and unusable if they make this selection

Android & Apple parental control similarities

  • Both devices allow users to set up screen time limits. For Android, this is called “Digital Wellbeing”; the name on Apple is “Screen Time”
  • iOS and Android both have GPS installed, making devices trackable at any time
  • Android and Apple phones can both be monitored on a separate device
  • ~On Android devices, parents can download the Google Family Link app from any device (Apple or Android) to set restrictions on screen time and approve or decline what apps kids can use on their devices
  • ~For Apple devices parents will need to create an Apple ID for your child that can only be managed from an Apple device
  • Parents can configure settings in either the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store to ensure a password must be entered before their student downloads a new app
  • ~Students can potentially get around the requirement of entering a password to download an app by using a third-party store. There are more third-party app stores available on Android devices than Apple devices

Unique differences between Android & Apple parental controls

  • On Android devices, parents can lock the phone at any time through the Family Link app
  • Android devices are integrated well with platforms that your student most likely is using at school such as Gmail, Google, Google Chrome, etc.
  • On Apple devices, parents can limit their child to communications with only their approved contacts. Parents can add or delete current contacts and approve or decline new contacts
  • Parents can completely remove the App Store on Apple devices
  • It is possible to disable passcode changes on iOS products
  • If an app has been approved for download and a parent later deletes that app, Apple allows the student to download the app again without parental approval, while Android devices will send an approval request to the parent before the app can be downloaded again

Why should parents & educators care?

  • Because Android allows users to download apps from various third parties, there is a larger app library, making it more likely for parents to be unfamiliar with apps their children are using
  • If your student has customized their phone, it may be harder initially for you to navigate the unique setup

What can parents & educators do?

  • Talk as a family about what guidelines, rules, and parental controls are appropriate for your kids. Make sure to include your kids in the conversation to help set and understand the limitations from the start
  • Use the SmartSocial Family Media Dialogue & Agreement Guide WITH your students to create a written agreement for your family
  • Whenever you introduce a new device into the family, take your time getting to know it yourself before giving it to your kids
  • ~Once kids have access to the device, work together to discover and see how students use the device and what they find
  • Ask yourself if the limits you set for your kids’ devices are reasonable and enforceable as a family
  • Remember, some kids can figure out ways to get around all parental controls or monitoring apps, so having open conversations and physically seeing how your student uses their device for yourself is the safest way to monitor and protect your kids
  • Take the time to regularly monitor the devices and screen time with the automated screen time reports in Digital Wellbeing

Privacy/setting recommendations for Android

How to find and use Digital Wellbeing?

  • Tap "Settings" on your device
  • Scroll down the menu and tap “Digital Wellbeing and Parental Controls”

How to set screen-time goals in Digital Wellbeing

  • Tap “Screen time goal” in the Digital Wellbeing menu
  • Tap the “Set goal” button on the middle right of the screen to create a new daily goal 
  • (Note: If you already have a time set, tap the button that says “Goal”)

How to set timers for specific apps with Digital Wellbeing

  • Tap “App timers” in the Digital Wellbeing menu
  • Search for an app by name, or scroll through the list of installed apps and tap on the app you want to set a daily limit for (example: tap on YouTube Music)
  • Tap the app(s) you would like to set the timer for and apply parameters
  • ~(Note: Timers reset every day at midnight)

What is “Focus mode”? How to set “Work time” and “Me time”

  • Focus mode allows users to set what apps can be used during a specific time with “Work time” and “Me time” 
  • Users can add different apps in these settings for different purposes or create an additional category
  • ~Example: A user may choose to select work apps such as a calculator or calendar, but not social media or photos while in “Work time,”or they may select “Only Messages and Phone,” blocking all other apps during “Me time”
  • The Clock, Google Play Store, Phone, and Messages are always allowed in Focus mode
  • ~Scroll down in the Digital Wellbeing menu; under “Looking for something else” tap “Focus mode”
  • ~Select which mode or routine you would like to set parameters for, i.e. Sleep, Theater, Driving, Exercise, Relax, Work, or Custom

What is “Bedtime mode”? How to set your bedtime

During the set bedtime, the device’s screen will change to grayscale. Calls, alerts, and other sounds are muted.

  • Scroll down in the Digital Wellbeing menu and tap “Bedtime mode”
  • Tap “Turn on” or “Turn off” to manually start or stop bedtime settings
  • Alternatively, tap “Turn on automatically” and set a schedule and what days the schedule should be automatically turned on

What is “Driving monitor?”

“Driving monitor” detects when the device is connected to a car via Bluetooth and shows a report of how the user has accessed the phone while driving

  • Tap “Driving monitor” from the Digital Wellbeing menu
  • Allow connection to Bluetooth if prompted
  • If using “Driving monitor” for the first time, tap “Start” and select the apps that should not be included in the screen time data while driving (navigation apps, for example) and then tap the blue “Start” button
  • To choose excluded apps after you have already started Driving monitor, tap "screen time while driving" then select the 3 dots on the top right and tap “Choose excluded apps”

How to access Parental controls on your student’s Android device

  • Download the Family Link app on the parent’s device (Read our Google Family Link Guide to find out more information). Login to the device you want to manage using the student’s Google account
  • On your student’s device, tap “Parental controls” in the Digital Wellbeing menu
  • If using Parental controls for the first time on this device
  • ~Tap “Get started”
  • ~Select “Child or teen” for who will be using the device 
  • ~Select your student’s account to be managed
  • Read the supervision information with your student and enter the student’s password at the bottom of the information
  • Tap “Allow” and follow the prompts from Family Link to set up key features like: 
  • ~Screen time limit
  • ~Allow or block apps
  • ~Find your child’s location

More screen time and parental control resources for parents, students, & educators

Conclusion

Tracking how much time your family spends on their devices (and in what ways) is a great way to start regulating screen time and building positive habits. If anyone in your family has an Android device, consider configuring Digital Wellbeing and Google Family Link, but understand that there are still ways for students to bypass those restrictions. 

There is no substitute for trusted adults being involved with a student’s screen time habits, familiarizing yourself with the apps your student uses, and creating a supportive environment for your student to learn positive screen time behaviors. When parents understand how to set limits and discuss them with their family, they are better prepared to keep their children safe in the digital world.

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your membership plan. Click here to join.

Superintendents, Directors and Principals: Request a partnership on this page to unlock our resources for your whole community.

Login as a VIP to learn more about the Android Digital Wellbeing and Parental Controls

This guide will help VIP members learn

  • How Android’s Digital Wellbeing helps “pull you in the direction you want to go instead of pulling you off focus”
  • What Android’s Digital Wellbeing is and why these settings can help parents and students with screen time concerns
  • Get tips on how to talk as a family about screen time
  • See step-by-step directions on how to access the Digital Wellbeing settings:
  • ~Screen time
  • ~Timers for specific apps
  • ~Focus modes
  • ~Bedtime
  • ~Driving monitor
  • ~Google Family Link

Why should parents & educators care?

  • Studies show that too much screen time can impact a child’s cognitive development
  • Tracking how much time your family spends on their devices (and how they spend that time) is a great way to start regulating screen time, building positive habits, and starting conversations based on the usage data
  • The best way to ensure your family's safety online, on devices, and on social media is to have regular and open discussions about digital safety

Login or join the VIP membership today to view all SmartSocial.com resources about Android Digital Wellbeing and Parental Controls!


Become a member or log in to learn more on this topic

Superintendents, Directors and Principals: Request a partnership on this page to unlock our resources for your whole community.
Quotation marks

This is great info, thanks for giving me some ideas on how to start a dialogue with my teen!

StarStarStarStarStar

Sharon M.

Parent VIP Member

Quotation marks

Josh's presentation about social media was unbelievably fantastic. Our students learned so much about what kids should and shouldn't be doing. The fact that it is such a thoughtful process made it all worthwhile.

StarStarStarStarStar

Director of College Advising

Educator Webinar Attendee

Quotation marks

This webinar is a very helpful eye-opener on the apps that are popular with my students.

StarStarStarStarStar

Irene C.

Educator Webinar Attendee

Learn more

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