Google's new Family Link app for Android is giving parents peace of mind when it comes to their kids' online activities, while simultaneously giving millions of kids aged 12 and under in the U.S. access to Google services.
With the launch of Family Link, Google is expanding its reach to preteens and kids.
Previously, kids under the age of 13 weren't allowed to use Gmail, download Android apps, leave YouTube comments or do anything that needed a Google account.
But with Family Link, that's all changing.
Parents are able to set up their kids' accounts, monitor the apps they use, track their physical location, approve or disapprove app installation, set up a bedtime and establish limitations on screen time.
Naturally, many kids who already have phones aren't necessarily on board with this new way of being stalked (in the most loving way, of course) by their parents. So it might make sense to introduce Family Link when you're giving your kids their first phones. That way they don't feel like their independence is being taken from them, rather it's opening up a whole new world of communication.
But for your kids' sake, you can at least let them know that the app doesn't allow you to see which websites they visit or who they're messaging.
It's not spyware — just some added monitoring.
The app requires a new account be set up on a new or freshly wiped phone, and preexisting accounts can't be used. Your child needs a phone running the new Android 7 Nougat software, however some models running the Marshmallow version will also be compatible. Parents will also need an Android device to run the app, but for those parents who have iPhones, Apple support shouldn't be too far behind.
Family Link is in the process of being tested right now, but parents in the U.S. can request access on the Family Link website.