As a parent it's hard to decide on the appropriate time to give a child their very own phone. On the one hand, we want to be able to reach them when necessary. The convenience would be wonderful. On the other, it opens up a whole can of worms in terms of who else they're texting, what they're downloading, and other troublesome things they can find with so much at their fingertips.
For some parents their hands feel tied. Due to busy family schedules the pros outweigh the cons in terms of giving a kid a phone. Still, the worries linger. Google's Family Link is trying to ease those nerves with a new service that puts a lot more control over the phone in mom and dad's hands.
Now those with Android phones can set specific restrictions on their child's mobile device. For example, they can lock the phone remotely, set time limits for usage, and even make it so that the device requires parent approval before downloading certain apps.
If you're unfamiliar with Google's Family Link, it' a service that lets kids create Google accounts that can be monitored by parents and caregivers for safety. And when mom and dad are really worried, they can even track a child's location (when you just want to make sure Junior is really at soccer practice).
It feels very Big Brother, but in a good way for families who want to securely keep tabs on kids in our ever-changing world.
There is a little more leniency for teens. Google's Family Link asks for kids over the age of 13 to give consent in order for their parents to use these controls. Although since mom and dad are often paying the bill, we're guessing the answer to that question is typically going to be yes.
And even if teens over the age of 13 do turn off the monitoring, they'll be subjected to a bit of screening. The phone will lock for 24 hours and parents will receive a notification that the child tried to put the kabosh on the systems in place.
It still seems like a fair trade for the opportunity to have a little bit of freedom with one's own phone. Kids get a touch of independence and parents can rest a little easier.