All children want their own smartphone or tablet and they are getting younger and younger. If this makes you nervous as a parent, don’t worry. There are plenty of settings and tools that allow your child to use their phone safely and keep you in control even when you can’t watch what they’re doing.
Let’s take a look at the best ways to set up your kid’s Android phone.
How to set up a kid’s Android phone or tablet: 6 best settings for kids
1. Use the Google family link
Children must be a certain age before they can have a Google Account. In most countries, they must be at least 13 years old. They must be 14 years or older in Spain and South Korea, or 16 years and older in the Netherlands.
Parents often avoid this problem by creating an account for their children using a fictitious age. It works, but violates Google’s terms and conditions and may eventually cause them to suspend or close the account.
To solve this problem, Google recently introduced a service called Family Link. It is one of the most effective monitoring tools for monitoring your kids.
Family Link allows parents to create and manage accounts for their pre-teen children, but it has two important limitations:
- At the time of writing, it is only available in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland.
- You and your child will need a phone running Android 7.0 or later (a very limited number of Android 6.1 devices are also supported). It also works on iOS.
How to set up a family link
To get started, download the Family Link app from the Play Store. Click on the first screens, then create a Google account for your child when prompted. You will need to verify your payment method during this process. A charge of $ 0.30 will be charged to your credit card, which will be forfeited upon confirmation.
Now log into the account on your child’s phone and also install Family Link. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the setup.
Once you’re done, you can use Family Link to:
- Approve app downloads , which means you’ll be prompted to allow or deny any apps your child wants to install.
- Limit screen time by setting a daily usage tolerance in 30 minute increments.
- Set a bedtime , after which the phone will no longer work.
- Monitor your child’s app activity with weekly reports and temporarily disable the apps it uses too much.
- Configure suitable filters to the children to limit the number of apps, games, and movies they can download, and to apply Safe Searches in Chrome.
2. Play Store Parental control
If your kids are 13 or older (or accounts saying), or if you can’t use Family Link, you’ll need to use the built-in parental controls in the Play Store.
This allows you to limit the number of apps, games, movies, and TV shows your child can download, based on their age. Books and magazines can also be restricted by a safe search filter (which may not be 100% foolproof), and music titled Explicit is also prohibited.
To set up parental controls, open the Play Store app, go to Settings> Parental control , then flip the switch to We . You will now be prompted to configure a four-digit PIN code.
Then click on each content type and set an age limit, or turn on the explicit filter, then click Record once you have finished. Your child will not be able to buy or play anything that falls outside of these settings.
You apply parental controls on individual phones and tablets, rather than the account. If your kids have more than one device, you’ll need them on each one.
3. Parental controls in Chrome
To protect your child from the darkest corners of the web, you can apply the safe search filter to their web browsing. This mainly works in Chrome, where they will be logged in. If your child is using a third-party browser, this setting may not apply.
To activate it, open the Google app. Go to the page Settings , then select Settings> Accounts and privacy . Define now the option SafeSearch sure Active.
4. Share content with the family library
Family Library is a service that allows all users in your household to manage their own Google accounts, but share paid apps and content from the Play Store. You can also share a single payment method.
This means that you don’t have to buy the same apps or the same movies more than once. You can do this selectively. So if you have things that you don’t want your kids to have access to, you don’t have to share them. It also means that your children can use your credit card to purchase products through the Play Store, but you must approve each purchase.
- In the Play Store, select Account> Family> Subscribe to the family library .
- Choose the payment method you want to share with your family.
- When prompted to share your content, select Add all or One by one.
- Finally, invite your family members to join your group by adding their Gmail addresses when prompted. They will each have to accept the invitation.
By default, all family members under the age of 18 (based on the age set in their Google Account) will need to be approved each time they attempt to purchase something. You will receive a notification on your phone to authorize or deny the purchase. This also applies to in-app purchases.
5. Replace YouTube with YouTube Kids
Most kids have been living on YouTube lately, but there’s a lot of content that you wouldn’t necessarily want them to stumble upon. For very young children, you can replace the YouTube app with YouTube Kids, an official family-friendly alternative with selected content.
Start by deactivating YouTube by selecting Settings> Applications> YouTube, then pressing Deactivate . This will hide the app icon so that your child cannot access it.
Now install YouTube Kids in its place. Through the settings of this app, you can turn search on or off, limit the time your kids can watch, and report inappropriate videos that accidentally sneak in.
If your kids are too old for this, you can set the standard YouTube app to restricted mode. This hides videos flagged by other users as containing adult content or inappropriate. They could also be algorithmically filtered too.
To activate it, open YouTube and tap the icon Account at the top right of the screen. Now go to Settings> General and switch the selector to restricted mode .
6. Follow your children
Giving your child a smartphone gives you the opportunity to keep an eye on where they are when they (or yourself) are away from home. It can give you real peace of mind and you can do it very easily using Google’s Find My Device service.
The service is primarily designed to track a lost phone. But if you have access to the Google Account set up on your kid’s phone, you can use it to see where they are. Of course, they must have the phone with them and an active data connection is required.
If you’re using Family Link with your under 13s, you’ll already have access to their Google Account details since you’ve set it up yourself. You can just log in using any web browser to find them.
At a certain age, you will need to start balancing privacy and security. Additionally, full access to your children’s Google Accounts may or may not be appropriate. A simple solution is to create a brand new account for the sole purpose of using the tracking feature, should the need arise.
You can use the same account for all of your children. Simply create the account and set it up on their phones via Settings> Accounts> Add account . Then log in on a desktop and go to google.com/android/devicemanager, and you can see where they are. You can also install the app to monitor it.
More Android parental control apps
Want even more ways to see how your kids are using their phones? There is a lot more in the Play Store. To get started, take a look at our pick of the best parental control apps for Android, as well as the best child tracking apps.
Additionally, apps like Timeout can help them stand out from their Snapchat additions, while Hold encourages users to use their phones less and focus more on their studies.
Also, remember that when you set up your children’s phones, no management solution is perfect. Family Link is the best option, but they can bypass the rest one way or another – clear the Play Store PIN, use a different browser to avoid secure search settings, etc.
Do your kids have an Android device? How did you set it up? Join us in the comments below to share your tips and advice.