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

, you're logged in!
December 15, 2022

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.

Login as a VIP to learn more about Google Play’s parental controls

Preview video

This guide will help VIP members learn

  • What are Google Play parental controls?
  • Why should parents care about app and media ratings?
  • What are ESRB ratings in Google Play?
  • How to set parental controls in Google Play or Family Link
  • Tips to talk as a family about appropriate content and what to do if kids see or hear something inappropriate

Log in or join the VIP membership today to view all SmartSocial.com resources about 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

Table of Contents

If your students are on a device that uses the Google Play store app to download apps or media, you have one more option to control what content they can download.

The Google Play parental control settings allow parents to manage what content is downloaded on their child's device based on the Google Play rating.

In this SmartSocial VIP resource parents and educators will learn:

  1. How apps in the Google Play store are rated
  2. How to enable parental controls and restrict content on their child's device
  3. And how to find safe apps and games for kids

Parent and teacher training video

(This parent and educator video is best to be shown to adults)

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 are Google Play parental controls?
  2. Ratings in the Google Play store
  3. ESRB ratings
  4. Why should parents care about Google Play parental controls?
  5. How to set up parental controls
  6. School managed devices
  7. What else can parents do?

What are Google Play parental controls?

  • If your child’s device uses Google Play to access apps, games, movies, TV shows, books, etc., parents can use parental controls to limit what is downloaded on the device
  • ~Devices that use Android and Chrome Operating System (OS) generally use Google Play
  • The device must be signed in through a Google Account and is device-specific
  • Google Play parental controls can be set up with or without Google Family Link
  • ~If a student uses their Google account to log into multiple devices (like an Android phone, a Chromebook, and a tablet, the settings must be saved on each device, unless the account is managed by Google Family Link)

What are ratings in Google Play?

  • Ratings in the Google Play app store are intended to help users understand the intended audience of the app and the maturity level of content in the medium
  • “Ratings are the responsibility of the app developers and the International Age Rating Coalition (IARC).” (Source: Google)
  • ~Ratings in North & South America are maintained by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB)
  • Google relies on an age-based ratings system
  • Ratings are based on: 
  • ~How users interact
  • ~Sexual content
  • ~Violence
  • ~Drugs
  • ~Gambling
  • ~Explicit language
  • In the Google Play Store, tap information next to the rating to learn more about the rating for the app and “Learn More” on the information screen to read details about that rating
  • Not all apps have a rating!
Unrated apps are treated like high-maturity apps for the purpose of parental controls until they get a rating. - Google 

Why should parents care about Google Play ratings & parental controls?

  • Google Play has 2.5 Million+ apps and grows every day!
  • Approximately 88% of apps in Google Play are rated “All Ages”
  • Around 3% (approximately 79,000 apps) of the apps are rated M for Mature-including Reddit! (Source: 42 Matters as of December 2022)

How to add parental controls on Google Play

Using a student’s Google account that is managed by Family Link

Google Play parental controls screen
  • Open the Family Link app on the parent’s device
  • Select your child you wish to set the controls for
  • Tap “Choose settings”
  • Tap “Google Play”
  • Tap the type of content you want to filter and select how to filter for each category

On a device managed by the user (over 13, not on Family Link)

  • Log in to your student’s device with their Google account
  • Open Google Play
  • Tap the user’s profile icon in the top right corner
  • Tap “Settings”
  • Tap “Family”
  • Tap “Parental controls”
  • Move the slider next to “Parental controls are off” to on and Create a content PIN
  • Switch the content restrictions for Apps & games, Movies, TV, and Books to the level you wish
  • Note: Devices that are managed by a school or organization may not allow parents to access Google Play settings. Talk with your teacher or school administrator about what settings they restrict in downloading media from Google Play

What are Teacher Approved apps?

Teacher Approved badge
  • All apps listed under the Kids heading on the Google Play store are Teacher Approved
  • “Teachers and specialists rate apps based on design, appeal, enrichment, age appropriateness, appropriateness of ads, in-app purchases, and cross-promotion.” (Source: Google)
  • Any ads or in-app purchases much be age appropriate and meet Google’s Families policies
  • For all apps and games listed under Kids, there is a section to click and learn why an app or game is Teacher Approved

What else can parents & educators do?

  • Don't solely rely on parental controls to keep your students safe. Discuss WHY you don’t want them viewing content that is rated as Teen or Mature
  • As a family, discuss what to do if your students do come across content with foul language, nudity, or any other reason you do not want them accessing Teen, Mature, and/or Adult  content
  • ~For example, TikTok’s ESRB Rating is T(Teen), but popular TikToks often use recorded soundtracks and/or the creator’s original audio that often contain explicit language
Example of TikTok's rating in Google Play
  • Remind students that talking to strangers online is not a good idea, even if they think it’s just another student. Predators often disguise themselves online as kids
  • With your kids, brainstorm trusted adults they can talk to if they ever see anything inappropriate on their devices or if they feel uncomfortable about any interactions online 
  • Check what apps are on your student’s device frequently. Ask your students to show you what they are using and show interest in why they want the apps 
  • ~Apps or games that exceed your set rating that are downloaded before you set the parental controls in Google Play or in Family Link will still be accessible on the device. Uninstall the apps from Google Play or block the apps in Family Link

Additional resources

To learn about different parental controls that work to help encourage healthy digital habits for students, visit our resource about Parental Control Setup on Student Devices

Learn more about Google Family Link settings

Listen to MomTalk podcast while Beth and Andrea discuss Google Play parental controls

Conclusion

Parents want to keep kids safe on their devices and not let them see or hear inappropriate images or language. Being aware of ESRB and Google Play ratings can help parents determine what is safe for their kids and they can start to filter what their students have access to on their personal devices when they turn parental controls on and set Google Play restrictions.

Since social media is dependent on user contributions, filters cannot block all inappropriate content and families must have open conversations about what is appropriate and what to do if students come across something that is inappropriate.


Share Your Thoughts With Our Team

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Join Our Next Live Events for Parents & Students

Districts click here to learn how you can share this with your community

Become a Very Informed Parent (VIP) to get our social media suggestions in your email every Tuesday & Thursday.
Dotted arrow to right
Learn about our
"Very Informed Parent" 
VIP Program
Right arrow
Josh Ochs headshot Round
Schools & Districts: Partner with us to protect your community online

Our remote presentations (and website) teaches over a million students each year how to shine online. We teach students how their accounts can be used to create a portfolio of positive accomplishments that impress colleges and employers.

Partner with SmartSocial.com
Right arrow
SmartSocial podcast logo
Join Our Smart Social Podcast each week on iTunes

With over 240 episodes, Josh Ochs interviews psychologists, therapists, counselors, teachers, and parents while showing you how to navigate social media to someday shine online.

Listen on:

Apple Podcasts
Google Podcasts
Youtube
Spotify

Here are some of the latest resources at SmartSocial.com: