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Find out how the Family Link app from Google makes it easier to monitor screen time and guide our kids as they play and explore online.
We have a love/hate relationship when it comes to technology and our kids. Overall, I think technology is a good thing. My kids have learned a lot online, playing games with classmates has helped my painfully shy daughter make friends and my girls bond with each other when they’re playing interactive games.
The downside is that sometimes it can be too much of a good thing. For while now, my husband and I have been trying to figure out a good way to both monitor what they do online as well as put limits on the amount of time they spend on their phones.
Family Link App From Google
That’s why I was excited to try the Family Link app from Google. It’s just the thing we were looking for to help my girls form healthy digital habits. I set up an account for each girl, connected their accounts to my phone and we were good to go!
The Family Link app has tons of great features that make it easy to monitor screen time…
- Approve the apps your kids download
- Find apps recommended for kids
- Hide apps
- Approve purchases
- Filter apps by maturity rating
- Monitor which apps your kids are using
- Block specific sites and/or apply filters
- Set maximum time limits
- Block specific time periods
- Lock devices
- Use location tracker
How To Monitor Screen Time With Family Link
Approve the apps your kids download
With the Family Link app, I can see which apps my girls have downloaded and approve or decline them remotely. So far they’ve been pretty good about downloading just the child friendly apps but as they get older (and become teenagers) it’s definitely something we want to keep an eye on.
Find apps recommended for kids
The Family Link app can also suggest apps that your kids might like. For example, it’ll show teacher recommended apps that you can download directly to your child’s phone.
This is a feature that’s really great for younger kids. There are so many choices for them that it can be overwhelming so this helps narrow the field a little.
I really like being able to hide apps that I don’t approve of or set it so that only my approved apps show. This way, we don’t have disagreements about why I won’t let them download a specific app. They never even see it to begin with.
My girls have been really good about asking to buy things online but I still like this extra layer of protection. It keeps them from accidentally buying a new car (though a new sportscar might be nice!).
Filter Apps By Maturity Rating
There are a gazillion apps floating around with new ones popping up each day. It’s hard to know which are appropriate and which aren’t without looking at every single one. I like being able to filter the apps by maturity rating so that they only see ones that are age appropriate.
Right now, Keira only sees apps that are appropriate for younger kids but in a few years I can bump it up a notch. I still look at the apps they download but this just adds a little security (and peace of mind).
Monitor which apps your kids are using
My girls have quite a few apps on their phones, some that they use regularly, some that they downloaded and forgot about. The Family Link app gives me a way to see which apps are being used most, which I find kind of fun. I love seeing how much time my oldest spends on Instagram or what games my youngest is playing these days.
Block or approve specific sites
Not only can you control what apps your child can see, you can also filter websites. Like the apps, you can choose to block specific sites or have only your approved sites show up.
Set maximum time limits
I do my best to set time limits on technology but it’s not always easy. I’ll give them an hour but sometimes that turns into longer when I get busy and lose track of time. Now I can use Family Link to set time limits.
All you have to do is determine the amount of time your children can use their phones each day. It can even be customized to give them more time on weekends or during the summer. I don’t have to remember because the app remembers for me…definitely a win!
Block specific time periods
Not only can I program how many hours a day my girls are on their phones, I can also block certain times of day. I don’t want them sneaking phones under the covers at bedtime and playing when they should be asleep (because that’s exactly what I would have done at their age). They’ve definitely been busted once or twice!
Even if they wanted to be sneaky with their phones, they can’t anymore. I’ve set the phones to lock at bedtime and unlock in the morning so they can be bright eyed and bushy tailed for school the next morning.
If there comes a time when you need to lock your child’s phone completely, this app lets you do that too. Whether they’re grounded or you you just feel like they’ve had enough phone time for awhile, it’s a feature that can definitely come in handy!
Use the location tracker
My girls are getting more independent and are old enough now that they can go play with other friends in the neighborhood. While I want them to be able to do things on their own, it still makes me a little nervous when they’re out of my sight.
Family Link lets me keep track of where they are, as long as they have their phones handy. That way I can see when they get to where they’re going and know when they’re on the way home too.
Of course, nothing takes the place of having mom and dad supervising the technology but Family Link app from Google sure makes it a lot easier! I love knowing that with a glance at the app, I can be sure my girls are using their phones safely and responsibly.
Looking for more ways to teach the kids how to use their phones and computers responsibly? Check out Google’s Be Internet Awesome program. It’s another great tool and encourages healthy family discussions about online activity, features fun games and apps and more.