Google has released an app, Family Link, that lets parents create dedicated accounts for their children. Up until now, Google did not allow children under the age of thirteen to use Gmail, leave YouTube comments, store pictures on Google Photos, download Android apps or do anything else that required a Google account.
With Family Link, a parent can simply create an account for their children, and this will give limited access to certain things online. Which is good, seeing that it is really hard to control what your child is viewing online. Family Link lets parents set up kids’ accounts, monitor what apps they’re using, track kids’ physical location, govern app installation, set up “screen time” limits and set a bedtime on your kid’s device.
“The goal in every area of Google is to improve what we do for kids,” said Pavni Diwanji, a Google engineering vice president. The move could help lots of kids get online. But there’s something for Google, too. It’s an opportunity for the company to bring millions of new users onto its platform and to hook them when they’re young and impressionable.
The app is in a limited testing phase for now. The child needs a phone running the new Android 7.0 Nougat, although a handful of models running the slightly older Android 6.0 Marshmallow version will be compatible too.
Parents in the US can request access to the app at the Family Link site. Google plans to release the app publicly later this year, starting with the US, then other countries will follow as Google navigates local laws.