Google New Launch of Family Link ParentalControl Service in Canada

Internet - (on February 19, 2018 11:34 AM)

In our fast-paced lives where everything is revolutionized, it’s no wonder that we’re becoming more and more dependent upon technology. Now-a-days, from a little kid to a grown up, everyone has the access to the entire world through smartphones. On one hand, where it is a convenience, it has also brought many problems with it. The wrong use of phones and internet can be destructive beyond repair.


This is why parents need to monitor their children’s phone activities. Now, Google has launched a new tool for Canadians that lets the parents have a check on their children’s digital activities. This tool doesn’t require any compromise on the features, or having to lock down the device altogether.


This tool is called the Family Link and has already been launched in the U.S, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. Now, Google is introducing Family Link in Canada from Wednesday as a part of its global expansion program.

Family Link is software that allows parents to give fully functioning devices that use Google child’s account. The privacy and authorization settings of the device are controlled by the parents. This app is specially designed for children under 13 years of age.


Advantage of Using Google Parental Services


The other perks that come with using this app include the allowance of limited screen time the children can enjoy. The parents can also set a time for sleep which will cause the phone to automatically lock down at that time. They can also set the minimum ratings such as E for games and PG for movies for automatic downloads. Otherwise, parental permission is required.


Pavni Diwanji is a vice president of engineering at Google and is the person who was the head of the team working on the project to make Family Link. According to her, about three years ago they at Google realized the need for this software upon realizing just how advanced we were becoming. She says that since she couldn’t keep tabs on what her daughter was doing on her phone, that wasn’t acceptable for her. Her point is that just like we have the knowledge of our children’s whereabouts physically, we should also know what they do online.


According to a report, there are about 5.8 million children in Canada that are under 14. According to Google’s research, 76 percent of Canadian kids between the ages of 2 and 12 own or share a tablet and 37 percent own or share a smartphone. Media Smarts generated a report that showed that nearly one-quarter of students in Grade 4, more than half of students in Grade 7, and 85 percent of students in Grade 11 have their own cell phone.


Pavni Diwanji said that curiosity is present in the children’s nature. So giving them a locked-down device will interfere with their desire for knowledge about different things. “We want kids to explore”, she said.

However, this exploration shouldn’t come at the cost of harming their own innocent selves. This idea led to the development of Family Link and is the reason for their openness comparing to other parental control software. Other parental control software let you permanently block a website or an app from being used. However with Family Link, the parents can go in and block websites in Chrome or features in apps, but otherwise it’s essentially the same experience as adults.


Features of Family Link parental control


When a child wishes to install an application, or some other media, a notification pops up in the parent’s device asking for permission. The application or the media will only be downloaded once the parent approves. They can also do that in person if they are with their child.


Parents can also permanently or temporarily disable or uninstall applications which won’t be able to get installed again without permission. The good thing about this software is the transparency that comes with it. The child sees the same usage report  as their parents.


Saurabh Sharma, Google’s Family Link product manager said during a briefing in Toronto that kids don’t want a kidified experience when they are using a digital device, they want the experience their parents or older siblings have. He said that they have tried to create the same experience for them and kids have been fine with it up till now. Diwanji added that Google wanted to create a framework where the parents are always in the loop.


She said that some of these locked-down devices are being used as a substitute for parenting. She said that as a parent, she would like to know what her child was up to and would like to have conversation with her on this matter too.

The passionate team of Googlers behind this product are ‘parents first and Googlers second’. This means that they are aware of the concerns and the necessary privacy laws and comply with them too.


She said that the team is excited to launch in Canada however, there is still a work of work to do and features to be added and feedback to be received. For example, Chromebook support is expected later this year.


According to Diwanji, this is just a beginning and they still have a lot of work to do for the parents and the children.

Google Family Link requires a new device for the child that runs Android Nougat (7.0) or higher and the Family Link app on the parent’s device (Android or iOS).



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