Complete guide to Google's Family Link, a powerful parental control hub

Monitor your kid's smartphone usage remotely with the Google Family Link app.

An image of a Galaxy S23 showing the Google Family Link app.

It's 2023, and there's no such thing as a right age to give your kid a phone. Many times, parents will just find one of the best cheap smartphones and hand it to their child. But some kids take more time to mature and get ready to handle the power of the internet, while others are more curious to explore at a relatively young age. Our advice is to use your best judgment to decide when it's necessary to give your kids a phone. You can always use parental control tools to let your kids get used to a smartphone and all its features without letting them lose in the wild west of apps and services. Google's Family Link can offer you the tools you need to control your child's smartphone usage.

If you're new to the world of Android or if you are a curious parent wondering how to set up Family Link to control your child's smartphone usage, then you've come to the right place. Here's everything you need to know about Google Family Link, along with the steps you need to follow to set it up on your kid's phone.

Family Link is a great parental control hub that gives you all the tools you need to control your child's smartphone usage. You can use it to set up a Google account for your kids, and manage all the apps and services they use, how long they use it for, and more. All this can be done with the help of a simple application that can be downloaded for free from the Play Store. You can use Family Link as a parent on Android phones running Lollipop (5.0) and higher and iPhones running iOS 11 and above. You can also use it on a web browser to manage all your child's account settings and features.

That being said, it's recommended that children or teens be supervised with Family Link using Android devices running version 7.0 (Nougat) or higher. We say that because a majority of important Family Link supervision tools won't work when your child is signed in to Google apps on an iPhone or iPad. Now that we know what Google's Family Link is and which devices are compatible with supervising your kids let's see how you can set up Family Link and get started.

Setting up Family Link may seem a bit overwhelming at first due to the sheer number of settings and features to explore, but it's a fairly simple task that'll only take a few minutes. Follow the step-by-step guide detailed below to set up Google Family Link.

The first thing you need to do is download the Google Family Link app on your phone and its companion app on your child's. These are two different applications that need to be downloaded on two separate phones to ensure everything works smoothly.

As a parent, you can download the main Google Family Link app on your Android phone using the link below:

Now here's a link to download the Family Link parental controls companion app on your child's phone:

The Family Link setup process will require you to input on two different devices — your main phone and your kid's Android device — so please follow the instructions carefully and use the correct device specified in each step. Also, make sure your kid has a separate Google account and it's the only one logged in on their phone.

  1. Open the Family Link app on the parent device and select the Google account you want to use for this process.
  2. Select Yes on the parent device, and simply open the companion app on your child's phone and hit Next on it to select the Google account.
  3. Continue on your kid's phone to enter the parent's Google account credentials to log in, and hit Agree after entering the password for your child's Google account when prompted.
  4. Authenticate by entering the Captcha code when prompted, and press Activate.

And that's it, you have successfully set up the Family Link app on both phones, and you can now monitor your kid's phone usage. You can also use the Family Link app on your phone to restrict content, set up app timers, and more. You can also add more child accounts to activate more phones if you happen to have more than one kid.

Let's take a look at a few important things you can do with the Family Link app to monitor your kid's smartphone usage:

Locating your kid's phone

An image of a Galaxy S23 displaying the location detection feature within the Google Family Link app.

You can use the Family Link app on your phone to locate your kids or their phones in real-time to know their whereabouts. You can search your kid's location by tapping on the Location option at the bottom and refreshing it. This particular feature can also be used as a Find My Phone alternative to locate the device in case your kid leaves it somewhere.

Set daily limits

An of a Galaxy S23 showing the option to set daily limits with the Family Link app.

You can use the Family Link app to limit the amount of time your kid spends on their devices. Select the Daily limit option found within the Controls page, and select the duration. You can create up to two schedules to have different timers for, say, weekdays and weekends. Supervised devices will lock when the time is up, and they can't be used to access anything. Alternatively, you can also set up app limits if you don't want to lock the entire phone and allow them to use specific apps.

Control apps and platform sign-ins

An image of a Galaxy S23 showing the control options for signing in within Google's Family Link app.

Family Link also lets you choose whether you want to be asked for permission every time your kid tries to sign in to third-party apps or allow them to enter basic details on their own. Similarly, you can also choose to be asked for permission every time your kid tries to sign in to an iPhone, iPad, or other platforms that can't be supervised properly through the Family Link app. These granular controls ensure you know which devices your kid has access to and what's installed on them. There's also a separate Highlights tab to give you glanceable information about your kid's phone usage and some stories about Digital Wellbeing.

You can do a bunch of other things within the Family Link app to monitor your kid's smartphone usage. The remaining options, like setting a Downtime or restricting content for Google services like YouTube and Chrome, are pretty self-explanatory, and you'll get used to them in no time. Just make sure you familiarize yourself with all the options before handing over the phone to your kid so you know where to find all the relevant information you need to track them. There is no Apple equivalent to Google Family Link on iOS right now, but you can use certain apps like Qustodio to achieve similar results.

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