Family Link, the parental control hub Google introduced last year to give kids under 13 their own Google accounts, is now expanding its features to teens. Family Link allows parents to set screen time limits, lock devices when it’s time for a break, approve or block apps downloaded from the Play Store, and locate their kids through their devices. These features work with Android phones starting today, with support coming for Chromebooks soon.
Family Link is technically available to anyone with an existing Google account, so by expanding the features to older account holders, it’s hoping to let users help monitor online safety for all family members. When it’s being used for anyone over 13, both parties must consent before the monitoring can begin. If the account holder doesn’t consent, they can choose not to provide their password to enable Family Link supervision. If the teen being monitored decides they want to opt out, they can choose to do so, but this puts the phone onto 24-hour lockdown.
Parents have had the ability to lock their kids’ devices from their Family Link apps, but soon they’ll be able to ask Google Assistant to do it for them with a voice command. You can say, “Hey Google, lock Johnny’s device,” and they’ll have five minutes to wrap up before the phone locks.
The Google Assistant update also adds family-friendly content for accounts managed by Family Link. Google Assistant can recognize up to six different voices, and if it hears a child that it recognizes asking questions, it will provide kid-friendly responses. For example, if your child says, “Hey Google, check for monsters”, it’ll make laser noises as if it’s scanning the room for monsters, and then say, “All clear!”
All of these features, aside from the Google Assistant integration, are available today, and most are rolling out globally to almost every country in the world. Google says the Assistant features will be available in the US first when they arrive next week.
Correction, 8:50AM ET, September 18th, 2018: An earlier version of this article said that the Google Assistant features were available starting today. They will be enabled next week. The article has been updated with the correct information.