So, in a “wow, how did it take Google this long to figure this out” moment, they have launched a beta version of Google accounts for kids. Now, I’ve been skirting this issue for years by fudging the year my kids were born. I have discussed this on several occasions, but the main reason was for calendaring purposes. I liked them having their own accounts which gets their calendar shared to both my husband and my account. I also liked using Google Play Music Family to allow them access to music on their own devices (without cluttering up my playlists!)
This new service called Family Link, is currently available to beta users. You can download the app from here, and apply for the beta. I was literally approved within an hour, so it may be similar for you. My other issue is, as stated above, my kids already have Google accounts (even though they are not 13). So, now I need to create them new accounts under this Family Link. Which is a bummer, because I really like the email addresses I’ve already picked for them. Then I’ll need to transfer the information (calendar, playlists, etc) to their new account. You can’t make an already existing account part of this new service. I REALLY REALLY wish you could. Maybe that is coming… who knows.
I set up my son’s tablet (I just decided to factory reset the tablet, which was really the best option to get it set up correctly), and logged in with his account. I tried to set up an older phone we have here with it, but the phone’s operating system was too old and wouldn’t work with Family Link. So I went with the trusty Nexus, which is already rocking Android 7.0. It set up perfectly as soon as I logged in with his Family Link account. It even notified my phone that it was getting added to Family Link. Then the REAL fun started!
Heading back over to my phone, I was presented with a TON of parental control options for my son.
Including what he can see inside the Google Play store, which apps he has access to, and what websites he can go to!
You are also able to set up screen time limits, and bed times. I only would like to add custom “time frames” where it’s automatically disabled such as during school hours and maybe during our typical dinner time.
So far, I’m SUPER happy with how it’s working. Once I’ve been able to use it a bit more, I’ll do a full video review of the service, but I definitely like where this is going… and no more lying to Google to get my kids their own accounts!! Woot!
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Sarah Kimmel is a digital parenting coach and family tech expert. She has spent the last 16 years of her career as a Microsoft Certified IT Manager supporting over 100 small businesses. During that time she started Family Tech LLC to help families understand and manage the technology in their home. She has regularly appeared as a family tech expert on KSL News, BYUtv and Studio 5, and has been invited all over the world from tech companies like Lenovo, Verizon, Microsoft, Dell, and Samsung. Find out more on her website SarahKimmel.com