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Google introduces locking feature for parents

children on a computer

Google introduces locking feature for parents

Search giant Google has recently launched a new monitoring app that will allow parents to shut their children out of their smartphones with the touch of a button.

Family Link is an app that allows parents to track what their children get up to when they are on their smartphones, with one of the options available being to remotely lock the phone from their own device.

The app has been created to help worried parents who fear that the younger generation are becoming addicted to their smartphones and may come across inappropriate content when searching social media and the wider internet.

To access this, parents only need to have a Google account set up on the device they would like to safeguard and then download the app on their own devices. Users will have to pay a one-off subscription fee of 1p from a credit card in order to verify their identity.

Once this has been confirmed, the user will then have access to either weekly or monthly reports that detail the usage of the device in question, including which apps their children have been using, as well as access to location tracking, which is an optional function.

Upon release of Family Link, Google stated that the app was targeted at parents with children under the age of 13, with many social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram not allowing children aged 12 and under not able to create accounts on their sites. However, children up to the age of 18 can also use the app if they consented to their parents monitoring and tracking them.

When under the control of Family Link, the parent needs to approve any apps their children try to download, with parents being given information about the app, such as whether it contains any adverts, what the suggested age range of the app is, and its rating.

The head of the Family Link app, Saurabh Sharma, highlighted that the app was created in response to feedback Google had been given from parents from all around the world. He added that children are being exposed to smart devices and the internet from younger ages. Parents are understanding that it is important to expose their children to the digital world, but worry that they could spend too much time on these devices and accidentally stumble upon inappropriate content.

Family Link will not work if the child is offline, however, the parent would be able to remotely lock the device if they have previously set it to lock at a specific time of the day, even if the phone is not connected to the internet at that point.

The subject of children and the internet has been a hot topic in recent times, with Facebook coming under intense scrutiny from parents and child experts after launching a Messenger-style app for kids.

Alan Littler

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