The holiday season is officially upon us, which means new devices for a lot of families. If you’re going to be hearing the pitter-patter of little thumbs on screens this year, read on! We’ve put together a handy how-to that will help you set up Android devices for safer, happier screentime. (If you’re going the iPhone route, check out How to Set Up Your Kid’s New iPhone instead!)
Setting up parental controls with Family Link
Parental controls are easily set up using the Family Link app from Google. It’s available on both Android and iOS, so if you’re an iPhone user you can still use it to manage your kid’s Android.
To set up Family Link:
- Download the app
- Login with your own Google account
- Follow the instructions to create a supervised account for your kid
Note that before Google offered the option for kids to set up email addresses, many children created accounts by fudging their age. If you’re hoping to connect their existing email address to your Family Link account, read this article before you update their age, because otherwise, you might end up getting locked out.
Once it’s set up, you can use Family Link to view your kid’s screen time activity, as well as set restrictions and limits on certain apps and activities. You can manage their access to apps via your own device, including approving or blocking apps they request to download from the Google Play Store. You can also see teacher-recommended apps and download these directly to their device. You might also choose to set time limits and/or set a bedtime for your child’s device to help them make balanced decisions about screen time. Family Link also lets you view your child’s location, as long as they have their device on them and are connected to the internet.
It’s up to you how many or how few parental controls you want to use. Some families find it helpful to set up a plan for earning independence over time. For example, you might remove or reduce parental restrictions or time limits as kids demonstrate responsible use of their devices. As with anything, this conversation will vary from family to family and kid to kid, and might not work for everyone.
How to talk to your kids about their new Android
Of course, no number of parental controls can replace an open, ongoing conversation with your kids about safe and healthy screen habits. Kids are likely to find (or google) a way around many security features, so checking in regularly is key. Be open and curious about what your kid is getting up to with their device, the same way you would talk to them about a book they’re reading, or join them in playing a sport they love. And make sure they know they can always come to you to talk about anything they encounter online, without fear of getting in trouble.
Happy screen time, and happy holidays!
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