Google accounts for kids: 5 things to know about Family Link

Kids using smartphones

This can be set at a certain time of day or with a switch on the parent's end of the two-app connection.

Family Link is a new way for parents and their children to be connected on Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG, NASDAQ:GOOGL) and its online capabilities.

Most Google Family Link features - like tracking your child on the bus to school - are optional.

The Family Link app sounds a little similar to the Restricted Profiles feature Google unveiled with Android 4.3 back in 2013, but that was more about controlling a device lent to a child, and it was limited to tablets. Google hopes to make the feature generally available in the USA in early summer and elsewhere in world later this year.

While standard versions of Apple iOS and Google Android have some basic parental controls, those features have generally been an afterthought compared to the rest of the operating system and aren't as extensive as the controls offered on kids devices or Family Link. Once you are invited by Google, you will download the app, then get everything setup. Family Link is ready to help with that. However, Google will reach out and give the birthday boy or girl the option of transitioning to a regular Google account, over which their parents have no control.

Google stresses that the app is meant for children under 13, who technically aren't supposed to have their own Google accounts yet, and it's worth reiterating that you need to start with a fresh device for this to work. You also can manually lock the phone or ring it if your child loses it.

Parents can also see exactly how many minutes are spent in each app, view weekly use reports, and even set time limits for how long kids can use their phones.

Social media sites like Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram all require users to be at least 13 years old to sign up thanks to legal constraints associated with making such services kid-friendly.

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