Google Family Link Guide for Parents & Educators

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December 14, 2022

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What parents will learn in this course

  • What is Google Family Link and how to install it on your device and your student's accounts
  • Various settings in Family Link that may help your family enforce screen time rules

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

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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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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.

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

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Table of Contents

Google offers a family-friendly option for parental controls that parents can manage from either an Android or an Apple iOS device. Among many other options, parents can set screen time limits, manage permissions, restrict their child's access to the digital world, and control specific apps like YouTube kids.

In this SmartSocial VIP resource parents will learn:

  1. What is Google Family Link
  2. How to set up and configure Family Link across multiple devices
  3. How to set parental controls on a Chromebook

Parent tips & walk through (video)

(This student-friendly video can be shown in the classroom or at home)

What you’ll learn in this video lesson

(Click on the three lines or a blue dot in video progress bar to skip to a chapter)

  1. What is Google Family Link?
  2. How to find Family Link and get started
  3. Create a Google account for your child
  4. Connect your child's device to Family Link
  5. Setting up the device
  6. Activate Family Link Manager and review apps
  7. Manage Parent Settings
  8. Setting limits on apps
  9. Screen time and bedtime

What is the Family Link app?

  • Family Link is Google’s version of parental controls that can be used on either Android or Apple devices
  • Parents can create a family group of up to 6 people across most Google products
  • Families can share entertainment, photos, calendars, locations, and more
  • Parents can set digital rules and restrictions for kids using Google devices or apps

What are parental controls for your child's device (via Google Family Link)?

  • Android parental controls work through Google Family Link which allows parents to set digital “ground rules to help guide [students] as they learn, play, and explore online.” (Google)
  • Parents can view their student’s activity, set parental controls to manage the apps on their child's 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 group 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 managed by a parent with Family Link (Read more here: “How to Create a Google Account for Your Child” from Google For Families Help)
  • 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

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

  • Download the Family Link app on the parent’s device (Read more here: Get started with Family Link)
  • 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 (For more help view this Google resource)
  • Allow or block apps (For more help view this Google resource)
  • Find your child’s location (For more help view this Google resource)
  • We recommend always knowing your child's password for their device and any apps they use. Use the Family Media Agreement template to help record these login and passwords

Find your device's version of Android

To ensure that you’re following the right set of directions, you’ll first want to check the version of Android your device is running. If it’s not current, you may have the option to update. It’s best to update whenever possible to ensure you have access to all the latest features.

  1. From the home screen, press the Settings button
  2. Scroll down and select About Phone or About Tablet
  3. Scroll down to Android Version. The number under this heading is the version of Android running on your device (i.e. 8.0)

How to set up Family Link on a smartphone

  1. Start by downloading the Family Link app onto your own device (Android or iPhone)
  2. If your child already has an account, Family Link will walk you through linking you and your child’s account. As part of that process, your child may also need to download the Family Link Child/Teen app on their phone to complete the process of linking the accounts
  3. If your child does not already have a Google account (or Gmail), you can also create a Google Account for your child so that you can use Family Link. Visit accounts.google.com/signup/ to create a new account. You can also use Family Link to create a Google Account for any child under 13
  4. Once complete, children can sign-in to their device with the new account
  5. Once the accounts are linked, use Family Link to set digital ground rules for your family

Use this handy guide from Bark.us

How to block or unblock an app

On the Family Link App

  1. Open the Family Link app
  2. Select your child
  3. Find the Apps installed card
  4. Tap More
  5. Tap the name of the app you want to allow or block
  6. Turn Allow app on or off

On Family Link on the Web

  1. Go to Family Link on the web
  2. Select your child
  3. Click Android apps
  4. Turn the app on or off

How to require your approval for new apps on Google Play

On a Computer

  1. On your computer, visit the Google Play My Account page
  2. Click Family Group
  3. Click a family member's name
  4. Select All content, All paid content, Only in-app purchases, or No approval required

On an Android

  1. On your Android phone or tablet, open the Play Store app
  2. Tap Menu
  3. Tap Account
  4. Tap Family
  5. Tap Manage family members
  6. Tap a family member's name
  7. Tap Purchase approvals
  8. Select All content, Only paid content, Only in-app purchases, or No approval required

On an iPhone or iPad

  1. On your iPhone or iPad, visit the Google Play My Account page
  2. Find the Family Group section
  3. Tap a family member's name
  4. Select All content, All paid content, Only in-app purchases, or No approval required

How to prevent your student from downloading mature apps

You can set up parental controls to restrict the content your student can download or purchase from Google Play. (Learn more in our Google Play Parental Controls resource)

  1. Open the Family Link app
  2. Select your child
  3. Find the Settings card
  4. Tap Manage
  5. Tap Controls on Google Play
  6. Under Content restrictions, choose your filters:
  • Apps, Games, Movies, and TV: Choose the highest maturity level of content you want to allow for download or purchase
  • Music and Books: Choose whether you want to restrict downloads or purchases of explicit content

Note: You can also manage this setting by clicking on your child's name at families.google.com.

How to choose permissions or a certain app

If your student uses multiple devices, repeat these steps to choose their permissions for each device.

  1. Open the Family Link app
  2. Select your child
  3. Find the Apps installed card
  4. Tap More
  5. Find the Allowed list
  6. Tap the app you want to change your child's permissions for
  7. Tap App permissions
  8. Switch the permission on or off

How to change a permission across multiple apps

  1. Open the Family Link app
  2. Select your child
  3. Find the Device card
  4. Tap Settings
  5. Tap App permissions
  6. Tap a permission
  7. Below your student's device, switch the permission on or off

Note: You can also manage this setting by clicking on your student's name at families.google.com.

How to prevent your student from changing their own app permissions

  1. Open the Family Link app
  2. Select your child
  3. Find the Device card
  4. Tap View settings
  5. Tap App permissions
  6. Tap a permission
  7. Select Only parents or Your child and parents

If you select "Only parents," your child won't be able to give that permission for any new or existing app. However, it doesn't change permissions that have already been granted.

Note: You can also manage this setting by clicking on your child's name at families.google.com.

How to see your student's app activity

You can see how much time your child spent using apps on their Android devices or Chromebooks. Time is tracked when the app is open and shown on the screen, but not when the app is working in the background.

  1. Open the Family Link app
  2. Select your child
  3. Find the App activity card
  4. Tap Set up
  5. After you turn on App Activity, you'll see your child's app activity in a few hours

How to manage your student's screen time

When you set a limit for your student's screen time on their Android device or Chromebook, they'll get a notification when:

  • Screen time is set for the first time (Android devices only)
  • Their device is about to be locked

When the device is locked, your student:

  • Can't see notifications
  • Can't unlock the device or use any apps
  • Can answer phone calls, and tap Emergency to make a call if the device has a calling plan (Android phones only)
  1. Open the Family Link app
  2. Select your child
  3. Find the Daily limit card
  4. Tap Set up or Edit limits
  5. Follow the instructions on the screen to set daily limits

Note: Daily limits apply to each Android device or Chromebook your child uses. For example, if you set a daily limit of 2 hours, your child would get 2 hours of time on each device. You can also stop the internet on the device at any time.

How to set time limits for individual apps

If your student's device is running Android Nougat or newer, you can set time limits on apps to manage how much time your child can spend on a specific Google app each day.

  1. Open the Family Link app
  2. Select your child
  3. On the "Today's activity" card, tap Set limits
  4. Next to your desired app, tap Set limit
  5. Set a daily time limit for the app
  6. Tap Set

Tip:

  • Time limits will apply to apps installed on all of your child's devices
  • System apps aren't supported by the app limit functionality. Limits can only be set for Android N+ devices

How to set a bedtime on your student's phone

  1. Open the Family Link app
  2. Select your child
  3. Find the Bedtime card
  4. Tap Edit schedule
  5. Follow the instructions on the screen to set a bedtime

How to lock or unlock your student's device

  1. Open the Family Link app
  2. Select your child
  3. On the card for one of your child's Android devices, tap Lock now or Unlock

Note: You can also use a parent access code to unlock your child's Android device if it isn't connected to the Internet

How to see where your student's Android device is

  1. Open the Family Link app
  2. Select your child
  3. Find the Location card
  4. Tap Set Up
  5. Turn on the settings required to see your child's location
  6. Tap Turn on (Note: It might take up to 30 minutes to see your child's device location.)

How to change your student's location settings

  1. Open the Family Link app
  2. Select your child
  3. Tap Manage Settings
  4. Tap Location
  5. Turn See your child's location on or off

How to set up Family Link on Chromebook

  1. Add your child’s Google Account to the Chromebook
  2. If you're signed in to your Chromebook, sign out
  3. On the bottom, click Add person
  4. Enter the Google Account email address and password
  5. Click Next
  6. Follow the steps that appear

How to manage your student's browsing on Chrome

  1. Open the Family Link app
  2. Select your child
  3. Find the Settings card
  4. Tap Manage settings
  5. Tap Filters on Google Chrome
  6. Choose the setting that’s right for your family:
  7. Allow all sites: Your child will be able to visit all sites, except the ones you block
  8. Try to block inappropriate content: No filter is perfect, but this should help hide sexually explicit and violent sites
  9. Only allow certain sites: Your child will only be able to visit the sites you allow
  10. Tap Manage sites to manually allow or block certain sites

Note: You can also manage this setting by clicking on your child's name at families.google.com.

How to block or allow certain sites

If you block a certain site, your student can ask for parental permission to visit it. You'll get a notification in the Family Link app where you can approve or deny their request.

  • Websites: If you block or allow a specific website, like www.google.com, the permission won't apply to sites that begin or end differently, like www.google.co.uk or get.google.com/tips
  • Domains: If you block or allow an entire domain, like Google, the permission applies to sites that begin or end differently too, like google.com, and images.google.fr

Block or allow a site

  1. Open the Family Link app
  2. Select your child
  3. Find the Settings card
  4. Tap Manage settings
  5. Tap Filters on Google Chrome
  6. Tap Manage sites
  7. Tap Approved or Blocked
  8. In the bottom right corner, tap Create
  9. Add a website or domain
  10. In the top left, tap Close

Note: You can also manage this setting by clicking on your child's name at families.google.com

How to change website permission settings

You can decide whether your child can give site permissions to websites they visit, including permission to use location, camera, and notifications

  1. Open the Family Link app
  2. Select your child
  3. Find the Settings card
  4. Tap Manage settings
  5. Tap Filters on Google Chrome
  6. Tap Chrome dashboard
  7. Turn Permissions for sites and apps on or off

Note: You can also manage this setting by clicking on your child's name on the Chrome dashboard. When "Permissions for sites and apps" is off, children won’t be able to grant permissions to websites. However, permissions they have already granted will still be in place.

How to remove geolocation from your photos

Geolocation is stripped from your photos when you share your photos on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

However, when you email these photos to strangers/friends/businesses the geolocation information is still in the photo.

‍Step 1: Check if your geolocation services are on in your camera by opening the PHOTOS app and seeing if they are grouped by city.

‍Step 2: Click on Settings > Privacy > Location Settings and click the box next to the "camera" app to OFF so you don't put geolocation in your photos.

screenshot of google map with a pin showing a random location

Manage your student's account on Chromebook

When you use Family Link to manage your student's Google account, you can let them sign in to some Google services on their Chromebook. You can also use the Family Link app to choose what websites your child can access using Chrome, supervise your student's app usage, and more.

System requirements

Family Link can be used with Chromebooks with Chrome OS versions 71 or higher. Learn more about how to update your Chromebook’s operating system.

How Chromebooks work with your child’s Google Account

Children signed in to their Google Account on a Chromebook have a similar experience to adults. Features may be updated from time to time, but some differences include:

Important: For school accounts and school-issued Chromebooks, G Suite for Education administrators determine which Google services their users can access while signed into a G Suite for Education account. This may include some features or services that your child was previously unable to access using the Family Link supervised account. Learn how to add a school account as a secondary account

Add your student's Google Account

To a new or factory reset Chromebook

  1. Set up the Chromebook
  2. Add your child’s Google Account to the Chromebook

Important: After your student is signed in to their Chromebook, a parent’s password is required to add new users

A Chromebook that’s already set up

  1. Add your child’s Google Account to the Chromebook
  2. Important: If you’ve added supervision to your child’s existing Google Account, they’ll need to restart the Chromebook to finish adding supervision and regain access to some Google services
  3. Recommended: If you (the parent) are the Chromebook’s owner account, disable guest mode and control who can sign in to your child's Chromebook. If you allow guest mode or the addition of new users your child may be able to use their Chromebook without Family Link settings applying

How to remove your student's Google Account

  1. On the Chromebook sign-in screen, select the profile you want to remove.
  2. Next to the profile name, select the Down arrow
  3. Select Remove this user
  4. In the box that appears, select Remove this user

Important: If you delete your child's account before you remove the profile from the Chromebook, you may have to reset your Chromebook to factory settings. To reset, press and hold Ctrl + Alt + Shift + r.

How to see or delete your student's Chrome history

See Chrome history

Important: If you added supervision to your child’s previously existing Google Account, you’ll need their help to do this.

  1. On your child's Chromebook, open Chrome
  2. In the top right, select More > History. This page shows your child's recent Chrome history

Clear Chrome history & data

Browsing history

  1. Open the Family Link app
  2. Select your child
  3. On the "Settings" card, tap Manage settings >  Filters on Google Chrome > Chrome dashboard.
  4. In the "History" section, tap Clear history

Tip: Your child's Google Account might have other kinds of browsing history saved at myactivity.google.com.

Browsing data

You can clear your student's browsing data, like cookies, saved passwords, and autofill form data.

If you sync a type of data, deleting it on your computer will delete it everywhere it's synced. It'll be removed from other devices and your Google Account.

Important: If you added supervision to your student's previously existing Google Account, you’ll need their help to do this.

  1. On your child's Chromebook, open Chrome
  2. At the top right, click More
  3. Click More tools > Clear browsing data
  4. Choose a time range, like last hour or all time
  5. Select the types of info you want to remove
  6. Click Clear data

Source: https://support.google.com/families/answer/7680868?hl=en

Additional Parental Control Resources

Parental Control on Student Devices: What Parents & Educators Need to Know

Android Digital Wellbeing and Parental Controls: Complete Guide for Parents

Apple Parental Controls (iPhones and Other Apple Devices)

Google Play Parental Controls: How to Block Mature Apps & Media

Conclusion

Google Family Link is a powerful tool to help parents manage their student's online safety. With so many options between their device and their student’s device, parents may feel overwhelmed in finding the right settings. Understanding each category and setting can help your family find the right settings in Google Family Link.


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