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'Family Link' app gives kids their own child-safe Google accounts

Monitor their screen time and set app permissions from your own device.
David Lumb, @OutOnALumb
March 15, 2017
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For some time, child-proofing your tech meant using kid-specific login profiles to wall-off your progeny into the most harmless corners of your tablet. That's hardly a delicate or complex safety setup. Google has released an app, Family Link, that lets parents create dedicated accounts for their children. Want to toggle your kid's app permissions, limit their screen time and set a bedtime capping how late they can use their device? This one's for you.

It's still in early access, so you'll have to request an invite, and only families with children under 13 years old qualify at the moment. The app only works on devices running Android Nougat, so make sure your child has one before signing up.

Enabling adults to toggle permissions from afar is pretty cool, there's something odd about deliberately bringing your kid into an ecosystem where Google is mining their activity. To their credit, the search giant is open about what data they will collect, and point out that third-party apps might snag even more, which is how the seemingly innocuous Pokemon Go was revealed to have access to Android users' accounts last year. But it's definitely more versatile to purchase a standard device and load up Family Link than buying a tablet with kid-friendly limitations hardwired in.

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