Family Link: A Google app that allows parents to control their children’s cell phone minute by minute

Family Link: A Google app that allows parents to control their children’s cell phone minute by minute


Would you like to know what your son does on his cell phone all the time?

How and how long should the children use the cell phone?

The debate is emerging around the world, as children receive their first mobile phone at an increasingly younger age.

And there is no magic number of adequate hours. But scientists say that “hyperconnectivity” – the continuous connection with the screen – affects creativity and personal relationships, and recommend limiting hours of use to depend as little as possible on the smartphone .

That also applies to children, who are even more vulnerable to becoming addicted to cell phones.

But many parents find it difficult to control the way their children use a device that they themselves are “hooked” on.

That is why the tools of parental control are the order of the day and there are dozens of applications on the market designed for that purpose.

However, the one that Google has just launched in its online store for “almost every country in the world” (last year was only in the United States) is more extreme than others.

Family Link
Copyright of the image GOOGLE
Image caption The application allows you to control the hours of use of the cell phone and prevent them from downloading certain content.

The application in question is called Family Link and allows you to have almost total control of what children install on the device, monitor their hours of use and even “look where they are”, explains the company.

It works for Android devices and also with iPhones. It is free and is intended for children and adolescents under 13 years, with the goal is to create “healthy digital habits ,  says Google.

But is the control it offers excessive?

Activity reports and remote lock

Family Link generates ” activity reports that show you how much time your children spend with their favorite apps .”

Thus, parents can approve or block applications that their children download online, or add directly those that they consider appropriate.

It also allows you to monitor the hours of use: “You decide the right time for your children,” says Google.

The key, the company suggests, is “to help them find a balance”. For example, setting a time to go to sleep and turn off the phone.

Have you been using the device for too long? You can block it remotely“whenever it is necessary to take a break”, promises the application.

“Look where they are” … and what they are looking for

But perhaps the most controversial of the application is the section that Google calls “Look where they are.”

“It’s useful to know where your children are, wherever they are, Family Link can help you locate them , as long as they carry their devices with them,” the technology explains on its website.

In addition, the system allows parents to receive notifications if the child searches for certain key words, such as “pornography.”

Parents can also lock and unlock the pages that children can see remotely and in real time.

The critics

Some netizens compare Family Link with the dystopian nightmares of the Netflix series “Black Mirror” or with the “remote eye” of Big Brother who sees everything.

Others criticize the fact that Google establishes the age to free itself of the parental control to the 13 years .

father and daughter using cellphone
Copyright of the GETTY IMAGES image

“At age 13, the child ‘graduates  , as Google calls it, or frees himself from the restrictions, obtaining the keys to the internet kingdom and all the good and bad that comes with it,” the correspondent wrote. of technology from the American newspaper The New York Times , Brian X Chen.

“That’s terrible because, at first glance, Family Link has everything to win, it’s free, it’s well designed and it’s full of useful features to regulate the use of the smartphone, ” explains the journalist.

“However, almost all of those benefits are undermined by Google’s decision to allow children to remove restrictions the instant they become teenagers,” Chen adds.

Google, however, insists that responsibility for the hours children spend on the Internet is a task shared with parents.

“We want kids to explore and be inspired as they embark on their own digital adventure, but each family thinks differently about what their children should and should not be able to do on their device,” the company said in a statement.


What else do specialists recommend?

In addition to using parental control tools -or if you do not want to use them- you can implement some of these tips:

  • Sailing together . Share time online with your child and talk to him about how the technology he can use works.
  • Content filters . Keep in mind that they are useful but they do not block all dangerous content.
  • Weather balanced . Manage the time children spend on the internet and avoid dependence on screens.
  • Protect your privacy . Maintain a relationship of trust with your children.
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Rava Desk

Rava is an online news portal providing recent news, editorials, opinions and advice on day to day happenings in Pakistan.


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