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How to Set Up Family Link Parental Controls

Updated Family Link Set-up

How to Set Up Family Link Parental Controls

**COVID-19 Update related to Chromebooks

Many schools are asking kids to use Zoom, which is an extension for the Chrome browser. Normally, Family Link doesn’t allow extensions, but Google recently changed Family Link to now allow a short list of extensions, including Zoom and a printer extension. You can read more.

Alternatively, if the extension still won’t add, the only way to use Zoom or any other video-sharing extension on a Chromebook is to create a new Gmail account and use this new Google account on the Chromebook without Family Link.

If you’re worried about how that new account is being used, make sure the DNS is changed to block the porn (step 4 below), monitor their use, and if you’re really nervous, add the Bark extension for extra monitoring, too.


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 (December 2019) feature set:

Family Link Features Updated

How to set up Family Link:

Setting up Family Link varies depending on the type of device and age of child. High-level steps for all scenarios include:

  1. Download the Family Link app on the parent’s device (available on iOS and Android).
  2. Create a Gmail account for the child, unless he/she already has one. Family Link only works with a Gmail account. ***NOTE – if you are a parent with an iPhone, and you downloaded the Family Link app, DO NOT attempt to create the Family Link Gmail account for your child through the iOS app. Eventually, you’ll run into a dead end, where the app will give you a 9-digit code, like XXX-xxx-XXX, and ask you to link it to a device. Unfortunately, there’s no place to type that 9-digit code into a Chromebook. It’s a dead end we’ve brought up with Google in multiple support threads, and no one, including “Google Experts” knows how to solve this. Stick with creating a Gmail account outside of the iOS app by following the link.
  3. For Chromebooks, log into the device using the new Gmail account (or if child is 13+ and has an existing account, use that one).
  4. For Android devices, download the Family Link for Children & Teens app.
  5. On both types of devices, invite a parent to supervise the device. For Chromebooks, children under 13 are supervised automatically when you log into the device with the Gmail account, but for 13+ on Chromebook, the teen is actually the one that invites a parent to supervise through Settings. For Android devices (smartphones and tablets), all children and teens must invite parent supervision through the Google Family Link for Children & Teens app, which you hopefully downloaded in step 4.

This high-level flowchart also explains how Family Link works for both types of devices:

Family Link Set-up Steps - 2


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:

  1. Location
  2. Router
  3. Chromebook set-up
  4. Family Link set-up
  5. Use CleanBrowsing clean DNS on the Chromebook

Details about each of these five layers can be found at our Chromebook Parental Control guide.

Visit the PYE Chromebook Parental Control Guide today!


Additional information about Family Link and Android devices:

Family Link

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:

  1. Location
  2. Router
  3. Family Link set-up
  4. Use CleanBrowsing clean DNS on the Android device

Details about each of these four layers can be found at our Android Parental Control guide.

Visit the PYE Android Parental Control Guide today!


Google Family Link FAQs:

Updated December 22, 2019

Q: Can kids erase web history while being supervised by Family Link?

A: No.

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: N0. 

Google has decided that kids with Gmail accounts with birthdays <13 are only able to watch YouTubeKids videos, which doesn’t sit well with some parents. The only way around this is to let them watch YouTube on a different device, or with a non-Family Link login, which also isn’t advisable unless highly supervised.


Q: Can’t my kid just evade supervisory control by using incognito mode in Chrome on a Chromebook or Android device?

A: No.

Incognito mode is disabled when Family Link is active.


Q: Why do I need something like CleanBrowsing if I’ve enabled Family Link’s “safe search” for Google and “try to block mature sites” in Chrome?

A: Because those Family Link settings only apply to a Google search. 

There are many other search engines, and if you have concerns about a child accessing them, then a service like CleanBrowsing (which forces safe search on multiple search engines), is needed. A great feature of Family Link is that Chrome search history is preserved, so you can review that from time to time as a deterrent. But we’re just big fans of blocking as much of the junk as possible, and CleanBrowsing does that.

This post explains more -> How to Block Porn on Any Device. For Free.


Q: [Chromebooks only] Can I add extensions to Chrome on accounts being supervised by Family Link?

A: No.

This is why it’s not possible to layer Family Link + Mobicip on Chromebooks. It’s one or the other. BUT, both CleanBrowsing (for explicit) and Bark (for keyword monitoring) work with Family Link.


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?

A. No.

Although this is frustrating, it makes sense. School email accounts are typically monitored by the school, using a device management program controlled by the school. In other words, the school is enforcing its own rules through those accounts, maybe even using a school management software like GoGuardian or Securly.

This means that your child might require two logins for the Chromebook. One using his school account, and another that you monitor with Family Link supervision. This also means that parents should know what the school is and isn’t doing on the school account side, just to be aware.


Q: Can I delete my child’s Family Link account at any time?

A: Yes!

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.”

 

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*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! 

70 thoughts on “How to Set Up Family Link Parental Controls”

  1. Have you tried to delete browser history as the child? I was a little confused by that as well, but when I actually tried to delete the browsing history on the newly set-up Family Link Chromebook, I couldn’t. Maybe I was doing it incorrectly. I’ll have to try again. Just curious if you had actually tried to and had the same experience I did.

    1. Hi, Ryan – I think you’re correct! I had the same experience and although I can click on “delete browsing history” and it seems to delete cookies and such, it doesn’t remove the URL history from Chrome! Awesome. Thank you for pointing me there and I’ll update the blog post accordingly!

      Chris

  2. Adrian Bunting

    Just tried to do this in UK then saw in small print that Family Link is only available for Chromebook users in US 🙁

  3. I wrote an email to Google asking about this, and this is the response I received: “From the information I found, you can delete your kids browing history from within the Family Link app but they won’t be able to delete browsing history from their device.

    The option to do so is grayed out.

    You can view your child’s web history with them on their device.”

  4. I cant seem to be able to set screen time limits for the chromebook through the Family Link App. Is this not available for chromebooks?

    1. Hi, Ann – you’re correct. Right now, screen time controls for Family Link are only available for Android tablets and smart devices, but not on Chromebooks. That’s one of those “not avail. yet” items in the grid in the blog post, but I sure hope they add that soon!

      Chris

  5. I set up an account for my child through family link, and all the apps I had installed from Google Play Store in my parent account were not visible or accessible in my child’s account, meaning they couldn’t use any app other than the preloaded ones, and there’s was no way for me to change this. Did I miss something or is google play and the apps downloaded from there really not available to a family link account on a Chromebook?

    1. Hi, Sue – some of this is untested on Chromebooks yet, but from what I’m reading, apps that you’ve placed in your Family Library should be able to be accessed by your child on the Chromebook. I’m looking at the Family Link app on my phone right now, and in the settings for my daughter’s Chromebook profile, it says, “Choose what Lauren can browse on Google Play. She will still need your approval for new purchases or downloads, unless they’re from your Family Library.”

      Here’s a Family Library support article: https://support.google.com/googleplay/answer/7007852?hl=en

      Best of luck!
      Chris

    1. Hi, Emiko – Family Link connects to an email address that is used to access the device upon login. Once in the Chromebook, your child can log into their school Google account through Chrome. So, if the school account is the one that’s used to log into the device right now, that would have to change. Does that help?

      Chris

  6. Chris,Thank you for the info we needed to help keep our Chromebook safer for our children. I have hit a roadblock however. I have completed all the steps to create a google account for my child, but when I go to his Chromebook and click on Add User it tells me Google won’t allow me to go here. Please help so I can continue to set up the controls we need.

    1. Hi! Is it because you’re not the administrator for the Chromebook? That’s the only thing I can point to. If you’re unsure, you might want to perform a factory reset to get a fresh start and then set yourself up as the Administrator.

      Hope that helps!
      Chris

  7. 2 Issues.
    1) Once logged in to child account in Chrome OS is doesn’t allow to login to any other Gmail account.
    2) You mentioned in another post https://protectyoungeyes.com/content/chromebook/ “Step 4: Use a FILTER. Mobicip has filtering for Chromebooks” The issue is that I have no way of adding this app MobiCip to child account, once I logout of the admin and switch users it doesn’t show or allow to add the app.

    Thank you

    1. Hello, thank you for your 2 comments. For 1), you’re absolutely correct, and we are changing the blog post to agree with this, which we did not catch during our initial testing. We’ve started a campaign to send feedback to Google to get this changed. 2) this one, I’m not sure. I’m going to poke around and get back to you.

      Take care!
      Chris

  8. WELL THIS IS A CRAP SOLUTION!

    Yeah I have parental controls on my daughter’s Chromebook but it has removed the Play Store. So why the hell does it matter if she is authorized 10+ apps when there is no store to get then from!

    1. You’re right that Family Link doesn’t quite hit the mark for a lot of kids. I’m in the process of testing a possible solution for your Chromebook that is not easily disabled, like Mobicip. Please look for an update soon!

      Chris

  9. When I tried to log in with my child’s account, it says “couldn’t sign you in. Looks like your Google Account can’t go here”. I read elsewhere that you cannot sign in on a Chromebook with a Family Link child account. I was hoping that wasn’t the case.

    1. Hi, James – I’m not sure what’s happening. Family Link does work on Chromebooks. Is there anything in the Family Link Account settings that might be preventing you from using the account on a Chromebook? I’m not aware of being able to do that, but that’s the only thing that comes to mind.

      Chris

  10. My son will be a freshman this year (over 13) and is going to a “bring-your-own-device” school. Is a chromebook off the table at this point? He will need to access his school gmail account so family link will not work. Mobicip is easily disabled from what I read. Any other alternatives? I wish the console management tools would be available to families…seems like it would solve the problems. Go to a windows device?

    1. Hi, BD – I’m in the process of testing a possible solution for your Chromebook that is not easily disabled, like Mobicip. It’s called Blocksi, and I should have some results soon. This solution should provide some of the console management tools that you’re hoping for, if their features are true to their marketing. Please look for an update soon!

      Chris

  11. Terri A Starr

    Got a chromebook for my daughter’s birthday (age 11). Spent 4 hours on her b-day trying to set up Family Link, and she is still unable to access google play at all, nor any of the apps I downloaded on my account to family share. We’re close to returning it, and getting a windows 10.

    1. Hi, Terri – I’m in the process of testing a possible solution for your Chromebook that is not easily disabled, like Mobicip and is more useful than Family Link. It’s called Blocksi, and I should have some results soon. In the meantime, get the WIFI she’s using filtered so it stays away from porn. Do you have access to your router’s dashboard? You can change it’s DNS to OpenDNS’ Family Shield, which you can read about here.

      Chris

  12. Very good review. Have a question: I downloaded the Family Link app on my iPhone and started the steps for creating a child account for my chromebook; right at the start, the app lists as a requirement that an android device with a certain sw level is available for the child to use; if you say that you don’t have such a device you are not allowed to proceed. The question is whether an Android device to be registered for the child is really a requirement and the account creation would not be allowed to complete successfully without such a device… or I can ignore that and instead of registering an Android device for the child I can just register the chromebook? My issue is, I do not have any Android devices and I wanted my child to use an old chromebook that won’t ever be enabled to run Android apps. Thanks.

    1. There’s no requirement (that I know of) to use Family Link by registering an Android device. I downloaded the Family Link app on my iPhone and created a test account on our Chromebook without any Android device registration. I hope that helps!

      Chris

  13. Got chromebooks for the twins (7yr) and have spent the last two days trying to set it up for them. Success creating <13 google accounts, setting up Family Link, but when I log out and they log in they cannot access google play at all. In fact, the app is not even available. I;m tracing back my steps to figure out where I messed up; if I selected something that would have kept them from downloading google play altogether and I just can’t figure it out. Have you heard of others who are having similar issues?

    1. Hi, I’ve been hearing the same thing from other parents who are using Family Link on Chromebooks. Once the FL account is created for the child, then Google Play is no longer accessible. You may be able to purchase/download apps with your account and make them available via Family Share.

      Separately, if you’ll allow me to share this piece of advice, but 7-years-old is maybe too young for kids to start developing an idea that they have a device of their own. Our recommendation would be to have 1 family Chromebook that has separate logins for each family member. This helps put off the false idea that kids are entitled to internet privacy in the home.

      Best to you!
      Chris

  14. Pretty disappointing this is only half implemented. I would like to have some management of our kids Chromebooks and allow them to install apps from the Play store. Right now it is basically all or nothing. Pretty disappointing.

  15. I got today a Chromebook for my 10 year old. Bottom line: he either (1) has no apps (other than the basic pre-installed ones) and surfs a parental controlled internet, by logging into his own account; or (2) has apps downloaded from the Google Store on the parent account, by using the parent account having with no available parental control filtering. Reason: Google OS does not allow you to “share” apps purchased from the parent account onto the kids account, on the one hand. And on the other hand, Google simultaneously, does not allow the kid account to have the Google Store portal to buy any apps itself. So you are basically bashed both ways. You may think; aha, I’ll just lie and say my kid is over 13, give him a grown-up account, and then get a third party parental control like Norton to give parental controls. Fool. Google disallowed third party parental control software on its revised Chromebook OS; namely, the only one that did work Mobicip is disallowed by Google from working. Net net net result: kid plays apps on your account without any parental controls, and you can’t buy any; and his kid’s account is only rarely used for surfing the internet with parental controls but with no other apps. Final bottom line: get iOs or Windows OS, Chromebook OS is a turkey.

  16. Agree with N. You can’t do anything on Chromebook with a family account. There is absolutely NO way to get apps on the childs monitored account. So, they have to use my account. It’s garbage if you’re trying to use it for anything other than surfing the web. You can not use Family Share as an options as suggested above either.

  17. My 10 year old just got his own chromebook and I already had a gmail account setup for him under my account. The lockdowns on all of this are extremely excessive and I am extremely disappointed. Why have parental control settings for Google Play if they cant even access Google Play? Pointless. Also, I installed Kids Youtube and he cant even see that app on his account! With parental controls and family link we should be allowed to give them access to GooglePlay. This is nonsense. I am consdering creating a dummy email account for him to use to login so he can play roblox. This setup is hoplessly broken!!!!

  18. Michael A. Robinson

    This is really annoying. What’s the point of giving me the option of setting what apps my daughter can or cannot see if she can’t even get to Google Play?

  19. I’m with all the other parents and grandparents. All directions have been followed but can’t access the Google Play to download even Youtube Kids even though they are on the administrators account. To “fix” this Google said they could do it but it would $100 a Chromebook! REALLY??? It’s an app that doesn’t work correctly. I’m beginning to think Apple was the way to go or to never use Family Link and just supervise their use. Is there anyway to get back to “square one” and start with just regular email accounts for them?

    1. Chromebooks were just officially added to Family Link last week, which we are testing over break now that we’ve published our iOS parental control post. Look for an update!
      Chris

  20. Great post. Thanks for doing this.

    On the limitations.

    #4 – You can put a school g-suit account on a Chromebook with a user managed by family Link. I am doing it now with my kids. (It is Android that you can’t have two accounts)

    Also, Google Play support has been added to the Chromebook. It wasn’t that Google doesn’t understand that was needed it was a technical issue. Remember Google Play on Chromebook is running in an emulator with in Chrome OS so it is different than an Android device.

    1. Thanks, Brett. I’d like to learn more about how you’re using the G-Suite emails with Family Link. Can we connect over email? [email protected]. Yep, now that our iOS parental controls post is out we’re moving to Chromebooks next to see if Google has made it better. I’m not holding my breath until I see some evidence!

      Chris

  21. After the December 14, 2018 Family Link update, do you know if children under 13 can now use Google Play with Chromebooks? I’ve been holding out on setting up the new Chromebook in hopes news of this will manifest . . . Please help! 🙂

    1. Hello! Now that our iOS testing is done, we are heading to Chromebooks next to see if this update holds water. Lord knows that Google hasn’t been too impressive with Chromebooks recently!
      Chris

  22. So far as I can tell, nothing has changed with regard to a child’s access to Google Play, YouTube, or any apps on a Chromebook. For a child to use any of those services, they will need to log in on a parent’s account, thus rendering all those neato parental controls pointless.

  23. very very dissapointed after all the time I spent reading about this topic on the internet, resetting the Chromebook to use our business account as the master only to find out that the Supervised user stuff DOESNT EVEN EXIST ANYMORE AND THE AUTHOR OF THE ARTICLE ABOUT IT ON THE INTERNET DIDNT EVEN HAVE THE CONSIDERATION TO POST AN UPDATE SO I WOULD KNOW THIS, infuriating, just a waste of my time. Now I ask my daughter if she needs this google play thing that you all have been talking about, and she says absolutely she needs it, so I have gone nowhere in two hours and she no longer has her account on the Chromebook since I wiped it away with the reset, but I suppose I can add it as a secondary and she’d be back where she started, with no protection adding onto years of no protection.

    1. Hi, Dave – I’m sorry about the frustration. The removal of supervised users was frustrating for a lot of parents, as we mentioned in the opening paragraph to the blog post. If you have specific questions about what to do next, please let us know.

      Chris

    1. Hello! I’m so sorry that I never responded to this. That was 10 months ago! Arg, apologies. But, yes, the complicated iOS choreography was solved through being able to add Family Link supervision to age <13 accounts during the Gmail account creation process, and from the Chromebook Settings for age 13+ accounts. For the 6 months without either of those, what a nightmare! Thank you for your advice and I wish you the best.

      Chris

  24. I realize this is an older article – but I recently got on the Chromebook bandwagon and bought a Lenovo N42, and only realize now that Google Family Link doesn’t work on that particular machine. It says it must have a profile migration but then only gives instructions as if this is a school machine and if you have a google suite professional account, which I don’t. Great, thanks Lenovo. They tell me to talk to Google and of course I never actually get to talk to anyone with Google. Is there any other work-around for limiting what 2 kids (9 and 7) can access on this chromebook?

  25. Hi,

    I have a new Chromebook I’m setting up for my 10 year old son. I downloaded the Family Link App on my iPhone and when I was going through the set up process, I get a screen that says:

    “On your child’s device
    1. Open Google Play and get the Google Family Link for children and teens app.
    2. When prompted, enter this Family Link access code to connect your devices:

    XXX – XXX – XXX”

    Obviously, the “XXX” part is an actual code. The problem that I’m having is I do not see a Family Link app in Google Play from my child’s Chromebook, and nowhere am I prompted to enter a code. So I cannot go farther in the app, and it does not appear to be connecting to my son’s computer because of it.

    1. Hi! So, you’ve discovered the infamous iOS Family Link dead end that no one at Google knows how to solve. We’ve brought this up in multiple help forums, and it’s just a dumb dead end. Please go back to #2 in the “How to Set up Family Link” steps. Create the Gmail account, but NOT from inside the app. That should solve your problem!

      Chris

  26. Hello, I just purchased my daughter who has a <13 Gmail Family Linked account, a Dell Chromebook. I’ve done everything in this article, including making myself the owner and adding her as a another user. I still cannot log her into the Chromebook. Her account doesn’t show up on the login screen and when I go to “add person” from there using her email address and password, I get and error. Not sure what I could be doing wrong. Has anyone else experienced this? Thank you.

    1. Hi – I might know the problem. Please go back to Layer 3, step 5 in the Chromebook article. Ensure that the “Restrict to the following users” is turned OFF (no blue is showing) so that you can actually add your daughter’s new Family Link Gmail account. Then, in Layer 5, you’ll see we’ve added another screen shot showing where you toggle that back on. It was your comment that made me realize that our instructions were clear enough on this specific point, so I’ve added these 2, new screen shots in Layer 3 and Layer 5, which I hope help. If not, please let me know!

      Chris

  27. Great summary.
    Other How to’s – “Create & manage your child’s Google Account”: https://support.google.com/families/topic/7336731?hl=en&ref_topic=6149867

    Includes links to:
    “Create a Google Account for your child
    Add supervision to an existing Google Account
    Manage your child’s Google Account with Family Link
    How Google Accounts work when children turn 13 (or the applicable age in your country)
    Turn Family Link notifications on or off
    Delete your child’s Google Account”

  28. Creating my children’s Google accounts using Family Link has been a huge mistake. Now that we are doing school from home due to the Coronavirus, their teachers want them to print documents, but Family Link will not allow them to add the printer extension to Chrome. Their teachers want them to do Zoom meetings, but Family Link will not allow them to add the Zoom extension to Chrome.

    Furthermore, Family Link cannot be removed without completely deleting the child’s Google account, which is their entire internet experience – emails, chats, docs, drive . . . EVERYTHING. So, in order for my kids to be able to do their schoolwork they would need brand new Google accounts and I would have to “power wash” their Chromebooks. This is completely unacceptable.

  29. Rob & Chris – Please help. We too are in the same predicament with our google chrome, trying to add extensions (like zoom) for homeschooling now.

    1. Hi, Andrea – this is Chris. I JUST received an email from Google today that they are going to change Family Link to allow extensions, like Zoom, in order to help with virtual classroom situations. It’s slowly rolling out. I’ll officially post about it tomorrow! We’re very pleased about this.

      Chris

  30. Seriously? Do my kids have to erase their gmail accounts entirely because I set up Family Link yesterday? Can I just delete Family Link?

    1. Hi, Rob – this is Chris. I JUST received an email from Google today that they are going to change Family Link to allow extensions, like Zoom, in order to help with virtual classroom situations. It’s slowly rolling out. I’ll officially post about it tomorrow! We’re very pleased about this.

      Chris

    1. Hi, Peter – this is Chris. I JUST received an email from Google today that they are going to change Family Link to allow extensions, like Zoom, in order to help with virtual classroom situations. It’s slowly rolling out. I’ll officially post about it tomorrow! We’re very pleased about this.

      Chris

  31. Hi Chris..
    I have a problem with family link use..
    I wrongly register my gmail adress as my child account to control.. thus my mobile is praenring itself. I cannot get rid of family link because my attempt to do that is being recognised from the child..
    How can i stop totally the family link ?
    Thank you for your help in advance

    1. Hello, Kader – in order to create the child Gmail account, you would have needed an “adult” level Gmail account, right? That adult account should be able to authorize the removal of the child account from the mobile. Hope that work!

      Chris

  32. Chris,

    We are now allowed to add Zoom as an app from the Play store but not as an extension. We are still unable to add the HP print extension. Besides all this, one of my daughter’s chromebooks mysteriously disappears from Family Link and and then mysteriously reappears later, rendering it unusable while missing. Again, I would NEVER recommend Family Link to a parent.

  33. Hi, I just set up family link and chose that I have to sign him into his computer. Turns out that isn’t what I want. It already has a password and I don’t want to have to enter my password and a two step verification. Any idea how I can remove that?

    1. Hi, Rebecca – I assume you’re referring to a Chrombook, which yes, there’s a password for the Gmail account that is signing into the device. If the child is under 13, you can’t remove Family Link because you can’t use Gmail without Family Like if <13. If the Gmail account is for a child 13+, then you can remove Family Link from that account by logging into the Chromebook, and in the settings, requesting to remove supervision. Hope that helps!
      Chris

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