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Android parental controls: A guide for parents

Keep tabs on your kids' digital habits all from your phone.

Published onApril 19, 2024

Children are growing up with access to more devices and information than we had in our time. However, exposure to unrestricted amounts of screen time and digital services can affect a child’s cognitive development and risk exposing them to inappropriate content. Android smartphones have parental control tools to ensure your kids use these devices safely. This guide will explain how parental controls work on Android devices and how to use them effectively.


You'll need a Google account to use parental controls on your child's Android device. Download Family Link on both devices and sign in with your Google account to link devices. As a parent, you can lock the device, set daily app limits, restrict content, monitor your child's location, and more, all detailed in this guide.


What are parental controls on Android?

Google Family Link logo on smartphone stock photo (4)
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

As a parent, it’s completely understandable to be concerned about the digital habits your child develops. Between cyberbullying, misinformation, too much time spent online, and other potential harms, ensuring your child interacts with as safe an online environment as possible is essential. Thankfully, there are many things you can do to ensure that your child is protected. Out of the box, Android phones come with several parental control options, from locking their device to limiting screen time. Additionally, there are tools to help ensure that your children only access age-appropriate content and cannot compromise the security of their devices.

When setting up your child’s Android phone for the first time, you can set up their device with Google’s built-in parental controls called Family Link. If Family Link isn’t pre-installed, you can install the app from the Google Play Store. Once installed, follow the steps below to set up Family Link on your child’s device.


There are some requirements for using Family Link. Let’s go over them.

  • You’ll need to be in a supported region.
  • Family Link won’t work with Google Workspace for Education accounts.
  • Both the parent and kid need a Google account.
  • You can only manage devices with Android 5.0 or newer, or a Chromebook running Chrome OS 71 or newer.

Setting up Family Link

Are you ready to make your kid’s phone safer? Let’s help you get started.

  1. Launch the Settings app.
  2. Go into Digital Wellbeing and parental controls.
  3. Scroll to the bottom. Under Families and Parental controls, tap on Set up parental controls.
  4. Select Get started.
  5. Choose whether this device will be used by a Child or teen, or a Parent.
  6. You will be told about the upcoming steps. Read them and hit Next.
  7. Select Add or create account for your child.
  8. Enter your kid’s Google account.

After this, just let your kid sign into a device using the Google account. You should be able to monitor the account from Family Link after this.

We’ve highlighted the main things parents can and can’t do with Family Link below for reference.

What parents can see and do

  • Manage which devices or apps their child signs into with their Google account.
  • Block or approve apps from Google Play.
  • See the location of their child’s supervised device.
  • Limit screen time, monitor app usage, and remotely lock devices.
  • Set content restrictions for SafeSearch and Google apps, including YouTube.
  • Control the kid’s device’s app permissions.

What parents can’t see or do

  • See what’s on their child’s screen
  • See their child’s search or browsing history
  • See or reset Google account passwords
  • Listen to their child’s phone calls
  • The child won’t need approval for an app the parent has approved in the past.
  • When children turn 13, they can choose to manage their own accounts without supervision.

Getting familiar with Family Link

Once parental controls are set up on your child’s device, you will have several options within Family Link at your disposal. Let’s familiarize ourselves with the essential tools. At the bottom of the homepage, you will see three main sections: Highlights, Controls, and Location. Let’s talk about what these options do.

  • Highlights: Shows the most recent activity on your child’s device, such as an app they just installed.
  • Controls: Grants access to your kid’s screen time limits, app limits, content control, and more.
  • Location: This will show you a map with the current GPS location of your child’s device. Note that the location finder will not work if your child’s device is offline.

As for what parental controls you might want to use first, consider setting a daily limit and downtime for your child’s Android device. These can be found near the top of the Controls homepage. Both options are fairly self-explanatory; a daily limit entails how long your child can use their device each day before it locks, and downtime specifies a time period when their devices lock for the night.

How to lock your kid’s phone through Family Link

There are multiple ways to lock your kid’s phone. The simplest is to do so manually. Otherwise, you can automate this by using Daily limit or Downtime.

  1. Launch Family Link.
  2. Go to the Controls tab.
  3. Up top, you will see your kid’s device (or devices).
  4. Tap on the Lock button next to it. You can tapo Unlock or Give bonus time afterwards.
  5. Daily limit can lock a kid’s phone after a predetermined amount of usage time. Under Daily limit, hit Edit weekly schedule, set your preferences, and hit Save.
  6. Downtime sets a schedule. Under Downtime, hit Edit weekly schedule, set your preferences, and hit Save.

How to restrict apps on Android phones

After you’ve installed Family Link on both your and your child’s devices, you can set time limits for specific apps and outright block which apps you don’t want your child to use. Additionally, your child will need your permission to install apps from the Google Play store in the first place. We’ll start with how to approve apps and then move to how to restrict apps.

Approving apps

Your child will need your approval when downloading an app from the Google Play Store. They can either send you a message or ask you in person. If they choose to meet in person, you can enter your Google account password to approve it on their phone. If it’s by message, you will receive a notification on the Family Link app, which you can review or deny.

  1. Your child can use his phone to go to the Google Play Store and look for apps.
  2. The child can then press Install.
  3. Two options will appear: Ask in a message or Ask in person.
  4. If the kid picks Ask in person, the dad will have to enter his password and hit Approve on the kid’s phone.
  5. If the kid picks Ask in Message, the parent will receive a notification on their phone, which they can Approve or Deny.

The parent can allow the child to download free apps without approval during the first approval process. However, apps with in-app purchases will still require permission. If you are concerned with your child seeing inappropriate content, we don’t recommend allowing the free rein to download free apps, as many free social media apps contain adult content.

Setting app limits

You can also set limitations on a per-app basis. This is great if you know a specific app is draining too much of your kid’s time. You can also completely block it, if you feel your kid should have no exposure to its content.

  1. Launch the Family Link app.
  2. Go into the Controls tab.
  3. Select App Limits.
  4. Select the app you want to limit.
  5. Tap on Block, Set limit, or Always allow.
  6. Follow the instructions and hit Done.

You can also select app details to see its content rating and other factors, such as whether it has ads, in-app purchases, or if users interact to help inform your decision.

How to restrict content on Android phones

Using Family Link, you can manage search results, block sites, and restrict content for Google apps. That means the content you limit will only apply to the Google Play store, YouTube, Google Chrome, and Google Search.

  1. Launch Family Link.
  2. Go into the Controls tab.
  3. Select Content restrictions.
  4. Tap on the app you want to restrict.
  5. Follow the intructions.

If you want to restrict content on non-Google apps like TikTok or Instagram, you must do so within those app settings. Thankfully, most social media apps have their own parental controls.

How to set a parental control passcode for Google Play Store

If you share your Android phone or tablet with your family, including the young ones, you can set a parental control passcode to prevent the purchases of content based on maturity level. In other words, users will need to enter the PIN you set to download any apps, movies, or books beyond the set maturity ratings.

  1. Launch the Google Play Store.
  2. Tap on your profile icon in the top-right corner.
  3. Go into Settings.
  4. Expand the Family section and hit Parental controls.
  5. Toggle Parental controls on.
  6. Create a PIN and hit OK.

After that, you can select the various product categories and choose which maturity ratings you think are suitable for each one. You can also adjust them at any time. Whenever your child tries to download an app from the Google Play store on their device or yours above the set maturity level, they will need to enter the PIN to do so. We recommend writing your PIN down in a safe place, just in case you forget.

Monitor your child’s location with Family Link

Isn’t it nerve-wracking when your kids start going to school on their own or start riding the bus? Knowing your childrens’ location is essential, and Family Link makes this a breeze. Not only can you pinpoint the exact location, but you can also get notifications when they arrive and leave certain places.

  1. Launch the Family Link app.
  2. Tap on the Location tab.
  3. The app will show you your child’s location.
  4. Pull out the menu from the bottom and hit Family places.
  5. Select Add home, Add school, or New place.
  6. Once you set these locations, you will be notified whenever a kid arrives or leaves these places.


There is no specific kids mode on Android phones, but using Family Link can accomplish most of the essential parental controls. On Android Tablets, Google launched a new Kids Space feature, which provides child-appropriate content.

Yes, many third-party parental control apps for Android are worth looking into and providing additional tools. See our list of the best parental control apps for Android.

To control your child’s phone from yours, you can use various parental control apps like Google’s Family Link, Qustodio, Norton Family, etc. These apps allow you to monitor usage, control screen time, approve or block apps, and locate the device.

To monitor your child’s Android, download and install a parental control app such as Google Family Link on both your phone and your child’s phone. Follow the instructions to link the devices and set up monitoring.

Family Link supports devices running Android 5.0 or newer, as well as iOS 13 or higher (Apple devices supported only for parents). It will also work on any Chromebook that supports Android apps.

Yes, Android has parental controls similar to Apple’s. You can use Android’s built-in features or third-party apps like Google’s Family Link to set screen time limits, approve or block apps, and locate devices. These controls might not be as integrated as Apple’s, but they offer similar functionality.

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