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You can now monitor your teenager’s phone with Google Family Link

Google is updating its parental controls app to support accounts for teenagers. Parents can block apps, lock devices, and track the location of their teen's Android phone.

Published onSeptember 18, 2018

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  • Google’s Family Link parental control app now supports accounts for teens.
  • The app, which links to Google accounts, allows parents to monitor their children’s activities.
  • It was previously only available for parents, and children younger than 13.

Google is updating its Family Link parental controls app to support Google accounts for teenagers. In an announcement on Google’s official blog, the company said parents would soon be able to allow or block apps, lock devices, and limit the screen time of their teen’s Android phone, and much more.

Previously, the Family Link app controls were only available to parents and children younger than 13 in the U.S.. The tools will now work on the account of youngsters aged 13 and up, but there are some differences between Family Link’s operation for teens and how it works for younger children.

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Both parent and teen must consent to the device monitoring — which includes location tracking — and teens are able to turn off supervision themselves, if they want to. The Verge says this will put the handset on a “24-hour lockdown,” though, and Google will inform the parent of the child’s actions. “Ultimately, it’s up to each individual family to have a conversation and decide what’s right for them,” wrote Google on its blog.

Meanwhile, Google also revealed that full Family Link support for teens and children will arrive to Chromebooks in the near future, and support for Google Assistant from next week (“Hey Google, hurry up and lock my kid’s phone, would ya?”). 

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It’s not the kind of app that teens are going to be clamoring to get their hands on — who wants their parents to be more controlling? — but I think it’s born out of a good place: lots of parents are concerned about how their children spend time online. Still, I suspect that if a parent is forced to use an app to find out where their child is going after dark, there are issues that Family Link won’t be able to fix.

If you’re interested in checking it out, find the Family Link app at the Google Play Store. Give me your thoughts on this one in the comments, I’m keen to hear what you think! 

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