In this digital age when privacy is at stake on a daily basis, it is particularly worrying to lets kids have uncontrolled access to the internet. Trolls, cyberbullying, violent games are rampant. It becomes imperative for adults to maintain a safe and protected cyberspace for children.
In a bid to provide a safe environment for children to surf the internet, Google has come with an app called Family Link. This app helps parents monitor their children who are below 13 years of age, while they surf the internet. Here parents can make their own digital ground rules when the child would be using their Android device.
For this, a Google account for the child is created along with the parents. There is no minimum age for a child to have a Google account which will be connected with the Family Link. It is up to the parents when they want to introduce their child to an Android device. Besides, this is unlike Gmail where a child has to be at least 13 years of age to access it.
The key features of the Family Link app include managing apps which the child frequently uses, monitoring the screen time, and lastly, remotely locking the device for bedtime or when they have to take breaks.
Now access to inappropriate content concerns parents. In this case Family Link says it does not filter inappropriate content “but some apps may have their own filtering options”. Therefore, parents would have to review apps and their settings.
Also, the child cannot have more than one Google account linked to Family Link.
— Google (@Google) 18 January 2018
To get started with this, it is necessary that the child is using an Android device (Android Nougat 7.0), or Android Marshmallow in only select devices. It is not available for children on iOS.
But parents can use this on either iOS 9 and higher or KitKat (4.4) or higher. Parents can also access it through a web browser.
This is not available in India.
Currently, it is available in select countries such as Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, and the United States. However, if this comes to India, children below 13 years of age can access the app.
According to the Family Link website, to gather verifiable parental consent, the app requires a credit card charge as a proof of consent.
Other than Google, Facebook had brought Facebook Messenger for Kids for parents to monitor over their children's activities even if they are not physically together.