Until recently, children younger than 13 were not allowed to have their own Google accounts. Now, Google are planning on expanding their user base with the introduction of Family Link. With this new app, preteens can legally have their own Google accounts, under the supervision of their parents.
Before the launch of this new app, children under 13 could not comment on YouTube videos, upload pictures to Google photos, or do anything that required them to have their own Google account. For such activities, they needed to use their parents’ accounts.
The Android version of Family Link now available
Family Link currently works only with invites. The official website describes the app as an effective way for parents to be up-to-date to what their children explore on their Android smartphones and tablets. After the parents set up their own accounts and create those of the children, they are able to set some parental controls.
Through these settings, they can block their children from downloading certain apps, and can receive reports on what apps their children are using the most. Also, parents can set the “bedtime” of the devices. Thus, children will be able to use them only until a certain hour during weekdays, and until a later hour during weekends.
Family Link can be used to track the location, to change the unlock pattern in case the children forget it, or to access the microphone and camera of the children’s device. After they turn 13, the children receive an invitation to a regular Google account, but the parents can opt to continue with the Family Link app.
How to receive a Family Link invitation?
The process is really easy. Parents only have to click the Request Invite button on the official website of the app. Then, they can create the Google account for their children, but they have to use an Android-powered device running the 7.0 Nougat OS or higher. Parents need an Android device, too, but their system requirement is only 4.4 KitKat or higher.
Also, parents will be charged 30 cents, which is required by the Federal Trade Commission to verify the parental consent in the case of companies which collect personal information regarding children. The easiest payment method is credit card, and parents can even opt to regain their 30 cents after the charge is applied.
At the moment, Family Link is available only in the United States, but Google announced that they would roll out the app in other countries soon enough. However, they did not reveal an exact date when this would happen.
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