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How to Set Up Google Family Link Parental Controls

Authored by:
Support.com Tech Pro Team
This Guided Path® was written and reviewed by Support.com’s Tech Pro team. With decades of experience, our Tech Pros are passionate about making technology work for you. We love feedback! Let us know what you think about this Guided Path® by rating it at the end.

Introduction

It's hard to keep track of what kids do on their electronics. You want rules to keep them safe, while allowing them some freedom to explore. Kids are clever and will usually try figure out ways to outsmart their parents. It's impossible to watch them constantly, and that's not really any way to live either.

Whether your kids are younger or in their teens, you want to be able to set the rules. That's why parental controls were invented, and why Google created Family Link.

Google Family Link is available on Android phones, tablets and Chromebooks. It allows you to do the following:

  • Set screen-time limits and bedtimes.
  • Lock devices remotely. For example, lock their iPhone from the comfort of your couch.
  • Block and allow specific apps. Set time limits on apps like YouTube Kids or their favorite games. Control which apps your child can install.
  • Change app permissions to block features like microphone, camera, etc.
  • Filter explicit websites on the Internet and videos on YouTube.
  • Location tracking for your child's Android devices, and more.

Here's how to set up Google Family Link.

Google

1 Set Up Family Link on Parent's and Child's Devices

To set up Family Link, you'll need at least two devices; one for the parent and another for the child. Follow these steps to install the Family Link app and set up supervision. Repeat these steps for any other accounts or devices you wish to add to Family Link.

On the parent's Android or iOS device

  1. Make sure your Android devices are up-to-date. Some Family Link features are only available on devices running Android 6.0 and up.
  2. Install the Google Family Link for parents app on the device you'll be managing the account from.
  3. Open the Family Link app.
    Family Link App Icon
  4. Read or skip through the features showcase.
  5. Tap Get Started.
  6. Select the Google Account you want to be the "Parent" account.
  7. Tap Parent.
    Who will be using this phone? Parent. Child or teenager.
  8. Make sure the device you want to supervise for your child is nearby. Tap Next.
    Tap next once next to child device
  9. The family manager can manage the family group, create Google Accounts for kids, supervise kids in the Family Link app and add another parent. Tap I'm Ready if you want the Google Account shown to become the family manager. If you're already a family manager, select Continue.
    Ready to be a family manager?
  10. Does your child have a Google Account? If they do, it'll be an address ending in @gmail.com. There are a number of ways to create a Google Account for a child, but it can also be done here as well. Select No to create a new account or Yes to select an existing account.
    Does your child have a Google Account?
  11. Follow the on-screen instructions to create an account or enter the credentials for an existing account.
  12. You will be given a nine-digit Family Link setup code in order to connect your device to your child's. Keep this screen up so that it's handy. We'll be using this code shortly.
    9 digit code

On the child's Android device

  1. Install the Google Family Link for children & teens app on the Android device you wish to supervise.
  2. Open the Family Link app on the child's device. Follow the on-screen instructions.
    family link for children and teens
  3. When prompted, enter the nine-digit Family Link setup code from earlier. Once the devices link together, review the information before finishing up.

2 Set Screen Time Limits and Device Locks

Family Link helps manage your child's screen time with automatic device locks. A locked device can only accept incoming calls or make emergency calls. It can't be opened or display notifications. Start by opening the app on the parent's phone.

Set daily screen time limits

Daily limits allows you restrict how many hours of screen time your child gets each day. Once their time is used up, the device won't allow access.

  1. Open the Family Link app.
    Family Link app
  2. Tap the child account you wish to manage.
  3. Scroll down to Screen time and tap Set up.
    screen time - set daily limits or bedtime hours for child's device
  4. Set the daily limits for each day. Put a checkmark next to a day you want to limit screen time. Remove the check when you want no limit. To disable daily limits, use the slider toggle next to Scheduled.
    daily limits
  5. Tap a specific day to change the amount of time.
    monday screen time settings
  6. Tap Save when done.

Set a daily bedtime

Lets you lock the device when your child should be in bed, so the device can't be used.

  1. In screen time settings, tap Bedtime.
    bedtime
  2. Set a bed time for each day. Put a checkmark next to a day you want to enforce a bedtime. Remove the check when you want no limit, like on a weekend. To disable bedtime limits, use the slider toggle next to Scheduled.
    bedtime settings
  3. Tap a specific day to change the lock and unlock time.
    lock unlock
    clock
  4. Tap Save when done setting up bedtimes.

Review screen time limits

After saving, new options will appear on the main screen for your child. From here, you can:

  • Lock now - Immediately lock or unlock the child's device.
  • Edit limits - Change daily limits on screen time.
  • Edit schedule - Change bedtime settings.

main screen daily limit

3 Set App Restrictions

Family Link allows you to manage which apps a child can use. Block or allow certain apps, change permissions, filter mature apps and see app history all in one spot.

Block, allow and set time limits on apps

Review which apps your child is using today, yesterday, the last 7 days and the last 30 days. Control which apps your child can use and for how long they can use them.

  1. Open the Family Link app.
    family link app
  2. Tap the child account you wish to manage.
  3. Scroll down to apps and tap View all apps.
    view all apps
  4. Review Activity to see which apps your child has been using. The time spent in each app will show below the app name.
    apps activity
  5. Tap Limits to begin setting up a cap on how much time your child can spend on specific apps.
    limits
  6. Tap the hourglass next to an app, then select Set limit.
    set limit
  7. Tap block if you simply wish to block the app. It takes about one minute for the app to disable, and your child will get a message letting them know the app is about to be stopped. It takes about one minute for the app to re-enable, as well.
  8. In this example, we'll set a limit of 30 mins for YouTube Kids.
    30 min time limit
  9. If you wish, tap the app name to get to the Allow app toggle, permissions and ratings information.
    app details

Change app permissions

Permissions settings give you control over what device features an app can use freely. For instance, you can block the camera and microphone from being used on social media.

  1. Open the Family Link app.
    family link
  2. Tap the child account you wish to manage.
  3. Scroll down to your child's device, and tap Settings.
    Kerri's sm-g950w settings
  4. In Device details, select App permissions on the bottom.
    device details app permissions
  5. In App permissions, select a feature you wish to manage. Each Android device is different. The most common features you'll see are body sensors, calendar, camera, contacts, location, microphone, phone, SMS, and storage.
    app permissions
  6. Tapping a feature will bring up its permissions. From there you can toggle which apps can use the feature. For instance, camera may be enabled in the Camera app, but not in Facebook.
    camera permissions

Manage Google Play browse, purchase and download restrictions

Decide what kind of content or apps your child can access on Google Play.

  1. Open the Family Link app.
    family link
  2. Tap the child account you wish to manage.
  3. Scroll down and tap Manage settings.
    manage settings
  4. Tap Controls on Google Play.
    controls on google play
  5. Under Purchases and download approvals, tap Require approval for.
    require approval for
  6. In member settings, set which payment methods your child will have access to. Pick either all content, all purchases using the family payment method, only in-app purchases or no approval required.
    member settings
  7. Tap the back arrow to go to the previous screen.
  8. Under content restrictions select either apps & games, films, TV, or Books.
    Content restrictions
  9. Each section will have options for how restricted access will be.
    apps & games

4 Set Web and Search Filters (SafeSearch)

Turn Google SafeSearch off or on

Google SafeSearch helps filter sexually explicit and violent results on Google Search. Use SafeSearch to keep your kids safe while they search for seemingly harmless terms.

  1. Open the Family Link app.
    family link
  2. Tap the child account you wish to manage.
  3. Scroll down and tap Manage settings.
    manage settings
  4. Tap Filters on Google Search.
    filters on google search
  5. Use the toggle next to SafeSearch to enable or disable the feature.
    safesearch

Filter mature websites

Google will attempt to filter sites that you wouldn't want your kids on, so long as they are signed into Chrome.

  1. Open the Family Link app.
    family link
  2. Tap the child account you wish to manage.
  3. Scroll down and tap Manage settings.
    manage settings
  4. Tap Filters on Google Chrome.
    filters on google chrome
  5. Set the type of website filtering you want. Allow all sites to remove all restrictions. If you want Chrome to block any type of sexually explicit site, select try to block mature sites. Only allow certain sites makes it so that your child will only be able to visit specific sites. This is controlled by tapping manage sites below.
    try to block mature sites
  6. Block or allow specific sites by tapping manage sites.
  7. Tap approved or blocked to add or remove specific websites.
    manage sites approved blocked
  8. To add a site to the whitelist or block list, tap add a website.
    add a website
  9. Enter the site's URL (or address) under website. As an example, www.example.com.
    approve a site

5 Set YouTube Filters

Restricted mode for YouTube will try hide videos with potentially mature content. The filter is not perfect, but it does help.

  1. Open the Family Link app.
    family link
  2. Tap the child account you wish to manage.
  3. Scroll down and tap Manage settings.
    manage settings
  4. Tap Filters on YouTube.
    filters on youtube
  5. Use the slider next to YouTube Restricted mode to turn the feature on or off. There is no ability to filter specific YouTube channels.
    youtube restricted mode

6 Set Up Location Tracking

How to set up device location

With location tracking on, you can see your child's Android device location inside of the Family Link app.

  1. Open the Family Link app.
    family link
  2. Tap the child account you wish to manage.
  3. Scroll down and tap Manage settings.
    manage settings
  4. Tap Location.
    Location
  5. In location settings, use the toggle next to see your child's location to turn the tracking feature on or off.
    see your child's location
  6. Reduce tracking accuracy if you find that the tracking on Family Link is draining your battery. Tap the child's device to begin looking at device location settings.
    device location settings
  7. In device location settings, pick a location mode. Use high accuracy if you want the best tracking at the cost of battery usage. GPS and Wi-Fi will both be used to determine location. Use battery saving if you want to use Wi-Fi only. Select device only if you only want the device's GPS to be used for tracking and not Wi-Fi.
    device location modes

How to see my child's location

You can view your child's Android device location using the Family Link app.

  1. Open Family Link.
    Family Link
  2. Locate your child in the list, then tap View.
    Child selection with View highlighted.
  3. Scroll down to Location. There you will see a small map showing your child's device location. Add a label to give locations easily identifiable names like "home", "school" and "grandma's".
    Location
  4. Selecting the map will show a larger view of the area.
    Large location view.

7 How to Turn Off Account Supervision

When your child reaches a certain age, you'll likely get pestered to remove all of the restrictions. If you are the child with the supervised account, you may be wondering how to do this on your own. Follow the steps below to remove supervision on a Google account.

How to stop supervising your child's account

If you no longer wish to supervise your child's account, open the Family Link app.

  1. Open the Family Link app.
    family link
  2. Tap the child account you wish to manage.
  3. Scroll down and tap Manage settings.
    manage settings
  4. Tap Account info.
    account info
  5. Tap Stop supervision. Follow the instructions to confirm that the account will no longer be supervised.

How to turn adult supervision off on your account

If you've reached the applicable age in your country and no longer wish to be supervised, you may be wondering what to do. Ask the family manager & parent to remove your account from supervision. If that doesn't work, you are free to delete your Google account. If you wish, create a new Google account.

8 Further Reading

If you're interested in learning more about Family Link, check out families.google.com and Google for Families Help.

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It's hard to keep track of what kids do on their electronics. You want rules to keep them safe, while allowing them some freedom to explore. Kids are clever and will usually try figure out ways to outsmart their parents. It's impossible to watch them constantly, and that's not really any way to live either.

Whether your kids are younger or in their teens, you want to be able to set the rules. That's why parental controls were invented, and why Google created Family Link.

Google Family Link is available on Android phones, tablets and Chromebooks. It allows you to do the following:

  • Set screen-time limits and bedtimes.
  • Lock devices remotely. For example, lock their iPhone from the comfort of your couch.
  • Block and allow specific apps. Set time limits on apps like YouTube Kids or their favorite games. Control which apps your child can install.
  • Change app permissions to block features like microphone, camera, etc.
  • Filter explicit websites on the Internet and videos on YouTube.
  • Location tracking for your child's Android devices, and more.

Here's how to set up Google Family Link.

Google

To set up Family Link, you'll need at least two devices; one for the parent and another for the child. Follow these steps to install the Family Link app and set up supervision. Repeat these steps for any other accounts or devices you wish to add to Family Link.

On the parent's Android or iOS device

  1. Make sure your Android devices are up-to-date. Some Family Link features are only available on devices running Android 6.0 and up.
  2. Install the Google Family Link for parents app on the device you'll be managing the account from.
  3. Open the Family Link app.
    Family Link App Icon
  4. Read or skip through the features showcase.
  5. Tap Get Started.
  6. Select the Google Account you want to be the "Parent" account.
  7. Tap Parent.
    Who will be using this phone? Parent. Child or teenager.
  8. Make sure the device you want to supervise for your child is nearby. Tap Next.
    Tap next once next to child device
  9. The family manager can manage the family group, create Google Accounts for kids, supervise kids in the Family Link app and add another parent. Tap I'm Ready if you want the Google Account shown to become the family manager. If you're already a family manager, select Continue.
    Ready to be a family manager?
  10. Does your child have a Google Account? If they do, it'll be an address ending in @gmail.com. There are a number of ways to create a Google Account for a child, but it can also be done here as well. Select No to create a new account or Yes to select an existing account.
    Does your child have a Google Account?
  11. Follow the on-screen instructions to create an account or enter the credentials for an existing account.
  12. You will be given a nine-digit Family Link setup code in order to connect your device to your child's. Keep this screen up so that it's handy. We'll be using this code shortly.
    9 digit code

On the child's Android device

  1. Install the Google Family Link for children & teens app on the Android device you wish to supervise.
  2. Open the Family Link app on the child's device. Follow the on-screen instructions.
    family link for children and teens
  3. When prompted, enter the nine-digit Family Link setup code from earlier. Once the devices link together, review the information before finishing up.

Family Link helps manage your child's screen time with automatic device locks. A locked device can only accept incoming calls or make emergency calls. It can't be opened or display notifications. Start by opening the app on the parent's phone.

Set daily screen time limits

Daily limits allows you restrict how many hours of screen time your child gets each day. Once their time is used up, the device won't allow access.

  1. Open the Family Link app.
    Family Link app
  2. Tap the child account you wish to manage.
  3. Scroll down to Screen time and tap Set up.
    screen time - set daily limits or bedtime hours for child's device
  4. Set the daily limits for each day. Put a checkmark next to a day you want to limit screen time. Remove the check when you want no limit. To disable daily limits, use the slider toggle next to Scheduled.
    daily limits
  5. Tap a specific day to change the amount of time.
    monday screen time settings
  6. Tap Save when done.

Set a daily bedtime

Lets you lock the device when your child should be in bed, so the device can't be used.

  1. In screen time settings, tap Bedtime.
    bedtime
  2. Set a bed time for each day. Put a checkmark next to a day you want to enforce a bedtime. Remove the check when you want no limit, like on a weekend. To disable bedtime limits, use the slider toggle next to Scheduled.
    bedtime settings
  3. Tap a specific day to change the lock and unlock time.
    lock unlock
    clock
  4. Tap Save when done setting up bedtimes.

Review screen time limits

After saving, new options will appear on the main screen for your child. From here, you can:

  • Lock now - Immediately lock or unlock the child's device.
  • Edit limits - Change daily limits on screen time.
  • Edit schedule - Change bedtime settings.

main screen daily limit

Family Link allows you to manage which apps a child can use. Block or allow certain apps, change permissions, filter mature apps and see app history all in one spot.

Block, allow and set time limits on apps

Review which apps your child is using today, yesterday, the last 7 days and the last 30 days. Control which apps your child can use and for how long they can use them.

  1. Open the Family Link app.
    family link app
  2. Tap the child account you wish to manage.
  3. Scroll down to apps and tap View all apps.
    view all apps
  4. Review Activity to see which apps your child has been using. The time spent in each app will show below the app name.
    apps activity
  5. Tap Limits to begin setting up a cap on how much time your child can spend on specific apps.
    limits
  6. Tap the hourglass next to an app, then select Set limit.
    set limit
  7. Tap block if you simply wish to block the app. It takes about one minute for the app to disable, and your child will get a message letting them know the app is about to be stopped. It takes about one minute for the app to re-enable, as well.
  8. In this example, we'll set a limit of 30 mins for YouTube Kids.
    30 min time limit
  9. If you wish, tap the app name to get to the Allow app toggle, permissions and ratings information.
    app details

Change app permissions

Permissions settings give you control over what device features an app can use freely. For instance, you can block the camera and microphone from being used on social media.

  1. Open the Family Link app.
    family link
  2. Tap the child account you wish to manage.
  3. Scroll down to your child's device, and tap Settings.
    Kerri's sm-g950w settings
  4. In Device details, select App permissions on the bottom.
    device details app permissions
  5. In App permissions, select a feature you wish to manage. Each Android device is different. The most common features you'll see are body sensors, calendar, camera, contacts, location, microphone, phone, SMS, and storage.
    app permissions
  6. Tapping a feature will bring up its permissions. From there you can toggle which apps can use the feature. For instance, camera may be enabled in the Camera app, but not in Facebook.
    camera permissions

Manage Google Play browse, purchase and download restrictions

Decide what kind of content or apps your child can access on Google Play.

  1. Open the Family Link app.
    family link
  2. Tap the child account you wish to manage.
  3. Scroll down and tap Manage settings.
    manage settings
  4. Tap Controls on Google Play.
    controls on google play
  5. Under Purchases and download approvals, tap Require approval for.
    require approval for
  6. In member settings, set which payment methods your child will have access to. Pick either all content, all purchases using the family payment method, only in-app purchases or no approval required.
    member settings
  7. Tap the back arrow to go to the previous screen.
  8. Under content restrictions select either apps & games, films, TV, or Books.
    Content restrictions
  9. Each section will have options for how restricted access will be.
    apps & games

Turn Google SafeSearch off or on

Google SafeSearch helps filter sexually explicit and violent results on Google Search. Use SafeSearch to keep your kids safe while they search for seemingly harmless terms.

  1. Open the Family Link app.
    family link
  2. Tap the child account you wish to manage.
  3. Scroll down and tap Manage settings.
    manage settings
  4. Tap Filters on Google Search.
    filters on google search
  5. Use the toggle next to SafeSearch to enable or disable the feature.
    safesearch

Filter mature websites

Google will attempt to filter sites that you wouldn't want your kids on, so long as they are signed into Chrome.

  1. Open the Family Link app.
    family link
  2. Tap the child account you wish to manage.
  3. Scroll down and tap Manage settings.
    manage settings
  4. Tap Filters on Google Chrome.
    filters on google chrome
  5. Set the type of website filtering you want. Allow all sites to remove all restrictions. If you want Chrome to block any type of sexually explicit site, select try to block mature sites. Only allow certain sites makes it so that your child will only be able to visit specific sites. This is controlled by tapping manage sites below.
    try to block mature sites
  6. Block or allow specific sites by tapping manage sites.
  7. Tap approved or blocked to add or remove specific websites.
    manage sites approved blocked
  8. To add a site to the whitelist or block list, tap add a website.
    add a website
  9. Enter the site's URL (or address) under website. As an example, www.example.com.
    approve a site

Restricted mode for YouTube will try hide videos with potentially mature content. The filter is not perfect, but it does help.

  1. Open the Family Link app.
    family link
  2. Tap the child account you wish to manage.
  3. Scroll down and tap Manage settings.
    manage settings
  4. Tap Filters on YouTube.
    filters on youtube
  5. Use the slider next to YouTube Restricted mode to turn the feature on or off. There is no ability to filter specific YouTube channels.
    youtube restricted mode

How to set up device location

With location tracking on, you can see your child's Android device location inside of the Family Link app.

  1. Open the Family Link app.
    family link
  2. Tap the child account you wish to manage.
  3. Scroll down and tap Manage settings.
    manage settings
  4. Tap Location.
    Location
  5. In location settings, use the toggle next to see your child's location to turn the tracking feature on or off.
    see your child's location
  6. Reduce tracking accuracy if you find that the tracking on Family Link is draining your battery. Tap the child's device to begin looking at device location settings.
    device location settings
  7. In device location settings, pick a location mode. Use high accuracy if you want the best tracking at the cost of battery usage. GPS and Wi-Fi will both be used to determine location. Use battery saving if you want to use Wi-Fi only. Select device only if you only want the device's GPS to be used for tracking and not Wi-Fi.
    device location modes

How to see my child's location

You can view your child's Android device location using the Family Link app.

  1. Open Family Link.
    Family Link
  2. Locate your child in the list, then tap View.
    Child selection with View highlighted.
  3. Scroll down to Location. There you will see a small map showing your child's device location. Add a label to give locations easily identifiable names like "home", "school" and "grandma's".
    Location
  4. Selecting the map will show a larger view of the area.
    Large location view.

When your child reaches a certain age, you'll likely get pestered to remove all of the restrictions. If you are the child with the supervised account, you may be wondering how to do this on your own. Follow the steps below to remove supervision on a Google account.

How to stop supervising your child's account

If you no longer wish to supervise your child's account, open the Family Link app.

  1. Open the Family Link app.
    family link
  2. Tap the child account you wish to manage.
  3. Scroll down and tap Manage settings.
    manage settings
  4. Tap Account info.
    account info
  5. Tap Stop supervision. Follow the instructions to confirm that the account will no longer be supervised.

How to turn adult supervision off on your account

If you've reached the applicable age in your country and no longer wish to be supervised, you may be wondering what to do. Ask the family manager & parent to remove your account from supervision. If that doesn't work, you are free to delete your Google account. If you wish, create a new Google account.

If you're interested in learning more about Family Link, check out families.google.com and Google for Families Help.