Set up Google Play Parental Controls
This is the easiest and most direct way of doing it. You’ll access the Play Store on your child’s phone and set everything there. This method works the best because it doesn’t require any fancy setups and you only have to set it once.
- Open the Google Play Store on your child’s phone.
- Navigate to the Settings menu, scroll down and click on the Parental Controls option.
- Hit the toggle where it says Parental controls are off to turn them on.
- Input a PIN code. This is for you, not your child, so pick one that they don’t know. Enter the PIN a second time to confirm your selection.
- The text in the menu should change to Parental controls are on.
Configure Google Play Parental Controls
Now that parental controls are on, it’s time to configure them. The Play Store defaults to not blocking any content so you have to do this next section at least one time in order to actually block content on your child’s device. Let’s get those settings configured.
- Tap the Apps & games option in the parental controls menu. You should see a list of ESRB style ratings.
- This is where it gets a little tricky. Tap the maximum rating you want your child to access. For instance, if your child is a teen and you don’t want them to access mature content, choose the Teen setting to give them access to everything up through the Teen rating.
- Click the Save button once you are happy with your selection.
- Repeat this process for Movies, TV, Books, and Music.
Once done, the phone will allow your child unfettered access to all the content with the ratings you specified. In fact, Google Play changes its search results to only include content with that rating. The only way your child can even find mature content is over the web and they’ll still need your PIN to even install it.
Prevent unauthorized in-app purchases
The parental controls section is done, but we highly recommend doing at least one more thing. The following tutorial will disable in-app purchases so your child can’t buy stuff from their devices without your password. A lot of parents just don’t put payment info on the child’s device, but they may try to in the future. Kids are sneaky that way sometimes. In any case, here’s how to enable a PIN code for any purchase from the Play Store.
- Open the Google Play Store app and navigate to Settings.
- Scroll down until you find the Require authentication for purchases option. Tap it.
- Select the For all purchases through Google Play on this device option.
- Enter your Google account password when prompted. The setting will change once you enter the password.
From this point, your child cannot make any in-app purchases without your consent and your Google account password. This should help prevent any unauthorized in-app purchases. Between this and the parental controls, your child should be locked out of just about everything without your expressed consent.
Parental controls via Google Family Link
There is one other way to accomplish all of these things and its a bit more hands-off. Google has the Family Link app available on Google Play. It’s also baked into Android 10 so this method will become more viable as more people hit the newer versions of Android. This method is a bit more complicated to set up. Additionally, if you’re a parent of a young child and you just let them use your phone, this method is entirely unnecessary and we recommend the method above for you. Here’s how to enable and set up parental controls via Google Family Link.
- Download Google Family Link on both your device and your child’s device.
- Open the app and follow the steps to connect your device and your child’s. The process is a bit complicated, so here’s a full tutorial on how to get everything connected.
- Once set-up, use the parent device to access the Manage Settings card where you get full access to all of Google Play’s parental settings. Simply set them up as needed.
Google Family Link has a lot of extra benefits. You can see exactly which apps your kids download with the dashboard and you can even restrict things like screen time and app usage. However, it’s also a pain to set-up. If you want more granular control of your child’s usage along with the parental controls, Family Link is a great option. Otherwise, we recommend setting up parental controls on the child’s device directly.
Both methods work equally well and each one comes with its own set of pros and cons. You should make the decision that best benefits you and your child. This method should work for just about everybody. If we missed anything, tell us about it in the comments!