Family Link parental controls have improved significantly since they were first released in 2017. After Google shockingly removed Supervised Users from Chromebook in January 2018, Family Link slowly became the parental control replacement for both Chromebooks and Android devices.
What is Google Family Link?
Family Link was created as a way for parents to control how their children navigate their Android devices (phones and tablets) and Chromebooks. Family Link is stricter if the child is less than 13 and has slightly different features if the child is 13-17. Here is the current feature set:
How do I set up Family Link?
Setting up Family Link varies depending on the type of device and age of child. This high-level flowchart also explains how Family Link works, and our detailed device reviews provide step-by-step instructions for Chromebooks and Android devices (tablets and smartphones):
Additional information about Family Link and Chromebooks:
We suggest that parents and caring adults consider multiple layers of protection on a Chromebook. Family Link is a good start, but it’s not enough. Family Link is horrible at preventing exposure to pornography and other explicit content because it doesn’t control any search engines other than Google.
The five layers of protection on a Chromebook are:
- Layer 1: Guard the location of the Chromebook.
- Layer 2: Love your WiFi (router)!
- Layer 3: Set-up the Chromebook correctly.
- Layer 4: Use clean DNS on the Chromebook.
- Layer 5: Try to use Family Link.
Details about each of these five layers can be found at our Chromebook Parental Control guide.
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Additional information about Family Link and Android devices:
Similar to Chromebooks, there are multiple layers of digital protection required on Android devices. These layers, if done properly, give parents and caring adults more assurance about device safety. The four layers of protection on an Android smartphone or tablet are:
- Layer 1: Guard the location of the Android device.
- Layer 2: Love your router (WiFi)!
- Layer 3: Use Family Link.
Details about each of these four layers can be found at our Android Parental Control guide.
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Google Family Link FAQs:
Q: Can kids erase web history while being supervised by Family Link?
Although kids can delete their website activity in Google’s My Activity, the search history will stick in Chrome on the Chromebook or Android device if Family Link is active.
Q: Can my child who is <13 watch YouTube videos while being supervised by Family Link?
A: Yes (as of March 2021).
If <13, then they will have some options, including YouTube Kids, Explore (generally aligns with content ratings for viewers 9+), Explore More (13+), or Most of YouTube (what it says). These additional content levels were added in March 2021 and we announced this change in our Blog.
Q: Can’t my kid just evade supervisory control by using incognito mode in Chrome on a Chromebook or Android device?
Incognito mode is disabled when Family Link is active.
Q: If I’ve enabled Family Link’s “safe search” for Google and “try to block mature sites” in Chrome, why do I also need a good router and/or DNS blocking?
A: Because those Family Link settings only apply to a Google search.
Q: [Chromebooks only] Can I add extensions to Chrome on accounts being supervised by Family Link?
A: A few, yes.
This blog post explains which are allowed.
Q: My kid uses a Chromebook for school with a school email to login. Can I use Family Link on that school account so that I can monitor more closely what my kid is doing?
This was changed during COVID lock-down, and is explained in our Chromebook Device Guide.
Q: Can I delete my child’s Family Link account at any time?
Just tap the 3 dots in the upper, right corner of your child’s profile in your Family Link app, tap “Account info,” then tap “Delete Account.”
*There are affiliate links throughout this post because we’ve tested and trust a small list of parental control solutions. Our work saves you time! If you decide that you agree with us, then we may earn a small commission, which does nothing to your price. Enjoy!
Chris McKenna, Founder: A man with never ending energy when it comes to fighting for the safety and protection of children. Chris practices his internet safety tips on his four amazing children and is regularly featured on news, radio, and podcasts for his research. His 2019 US Senate Judiciary Committee testimony was the catalyst for draft legislation and on-going discussion that could radically change online child protection laws and earned PYE the NCOSE Dignity Defense Alert Award in 2020. The PYE team has performed over 1,300 presentations at schools, churches, and nonprofits and was featured in the Childhood 2.0 movie. When not leading PYE, Chris is the Digital Marketing Manager for Covenant Eyes. Other loves include running, spreadsheets, nature, and candy.