Technology giants devote a lot of time to user safety issues. Today Apple, Google and Microsoft are trying their best to help parents protect their children from all the harmful things that crawl the World Wide Web and make communication with their favorite gadget as harmless as possible both for physical and mental health. However, all is well in its ecosystem. For example, Apple has brilliantly implemented parental controls in its iPhones and iPads. In addition, Family Access allows you to share apps, your favorite music as part of a single subscription, and most importantly, to see a family member’s geo-position at any time on your gadget, completely free of charge. But what to do if the parents have an iPhone, and the children, for obvious reasons, have representatives of the budget and middle segment on Android?
Today’s children are hard to imagine without smartphones
I encountered this problem at the end of the summer, when the family council decided to give the heirs going to school the first Chinese budget Android smartphones of their lives. And if the issue of controlling what applications the child downloads from Google Play, what sites he visits in Chrome and what he watches on YouTube is easily solved by providing a previously created and appropriately configured Gmail account, the problem of tracking the location of your child’s Android smartphone from the iPhone already requires the installation of appropriate applications and paying a costly subscription every month.
But luckily, I’ve found a way to do all this for free, and in addition get full control over the kids’ smartphones, all while having their own full Google account.
How to enable parental control from iPhone to Android
First of all, you need to download the Google Family Link application on your iPhone from the App Store. On an Android smartphone, you need to download Google Family Link (for kids) from Google Play. The next step is to create a family group in Google services and add parents and children to it:
open the app on your iPhone, log into your Google account (Gmail account);
After successful authorization click on the three horizontal dashes in the upper left corner of the screen and in the menu that opens tap “Family Group”;
Go to the family group settings and invite a new family member.
Choose “Invite a family member” and in the next screen enter the address of Gmail child and tap “Continue”;
In the letter you receive to the specified address, you must confirm the new member to join the friendly Google family. To do this, follow the link and log in to the account, and there you must tap “Join the family group;
On the iPhone app, on the same “Family Group” screen, select “Parental Controls” and on the next screen, tap “Next”. On your child’s phone, open the Google Family Link app, indicate that we’re going to control this particular device, and select the account we’re going to control;
On the Android smartphone, enter the access code from the iPhone screen.
Enter the access code from the iPhone screen into the appropriate field on the Android
Next, the child has to enter on his/her gadget the password from the Google account, and indicate the name of the device to be controlled, after which a series of windows will follow, describing exactly what parents can control on their child’s smartphone. Some of them require simply scrolling through the information by clicking “More”, and some require confirming consent to parental control by tapping the appropriate button. In addition, at this stage it will be suggested which of the installed applications on the child’s phone can be used and which can be blocked.
Read and agree to the parental control setting and indicate which of the installed applications your child can use
On the parent iPhone, you’ll also have to confirm the desire to set up parental controls for the child’s Android smartphone account and, on the last screen, choose either to install all the settings yourself or to agree to the recommended settings.
The parent on the iPhone confirms the control setting and chooses one of the options: the manual setting in the app or the default settings
In the last step, I did not apply the default settings, but decided to go through each option separately in the Family Link app on the iPhone, taking into account what we allow our children.
On a separate note, if the kids are under 13, Google requires that we create a separate kids account for them right in the Family Link app for parents. This option is better in terms of total control over the child’s account and their smartphone.
But in our case, the kids already had full-fledged Gmail accounts, and given their age, upbringing, environment, interests, and communication, we decided to make the control more liberal.
Generally speaking, Apple tech helps a lot with kids – here’s how my kids learned remotely using iPads, for example.
How to find out where a child is with an iPhone
The most important thing for the sake of which the parental control was actually set up, is to determine the geo-positioning of Android smartphones on the iPhone at no charge at all. To get the relevant information, just tap your child’s name or avatar on the Family Link home page and a section of the map with the location will appear on the screen that opens, tapping on that will open a full screen with Google Maps. Thanks to Google for a free and quite accurate answer to the question of where your child is.
Google Maps will pinpoint your child’s smartphone location
How to monitor your child’s smartphone use
Below Family Link’s geo-positioning provides a report on what apps and how long your child has been using the smartphone. Selecting “More” will open a detailed log with stats for today, yesterday, a week, and a month.
Parents have access to brief and complete statistics on the use of the gadget
How to prevent your child from running applications
If you want to prohibit the launch of any of the installed applications on a child’s smartphone, or limit the time of using an application, go to the tab “Restrictions” and tap on the hourglass to the right of the application name. We have two options: to set the time of use, or to block the application altogether.
The parent can either block the app or set a time limit on its use
You can also set a limit on the use of the gadget itself. To do this, on the page of your child’s account in Family Link, under the brief statistics on app usage, there is a corresponding section with the word “Customize”. A tap on the latter will open a screen with two tabs: “Restrictions” and “Sleep Time”. On the first, respectively, you can set on the days of the week how many hours the child will be available to the device, and on the second when the device should be blocked so as not to distract from sleep.
If you set a limit, the child will be notified in advance before locking it. If he/she continues to use the gadget, the latter will lock at the right time and will only work to receive phone calls and make emergency calls. However, when receiving the notification, the child has time to call the parent and ask to temporarily disable the restriction, if the smartphone is really needed more than the allotted time.
How to control your child’s actions on Google Play
On the supervised account page on the parent’s iPhone, under the child’s name and avatar, there’s a “Settings” button that takes you to a screen where you can configure additional parental control options. In particular for the proprietary Google Play store, you can set some restrictions on content and allow or prohibit the installation of both paid and all absolutely all applications without parental approval. Considering that after downloading any content from the store the parent receives an e-mail report about this fact, and any already installed app can be blocked remotely, I have set a restriction only on paid content and in-app purchases.
For music, you can prohibit access to songs with obscene language, and for books, you can prohibit access to sexual content. For games and apps, you can censor 3+, 7+, 12+, 16+, and 18+ ratings.
Controlling your child’s activity on Google Play
For Chrome, it’s possible to block adult sites and have parents create their own list of sites their child can access and a list of blocked sites. For Google Search and YouTube, there are options to enable “Safe Search” and “Safe Mode,” respectively.
Chrome and YouTube filters
Additional parental control options in Google Family Link
In addition to the listed tools, parents can allow or forbid their child to add other users’ accounts to their gadget; access their own account settings; install apps from unknown sources; and enable developer mode. You can also set the location of your child’s device and allow apps to access the device’s system resources: camera, microphone, geo-location, contacts, phone, SMS, calendar, and storage.
Lost somewhere at home smartphone is easy to find by enabling sound playback on it. There is a detailed description of all the parameters of the Google Family Link app. Losing a little time to study the background information, you can quite flexibly configure the gadgets of your heirs and be relatively calm about their cybersecurity.
Overall, I was quite pleased with Google’s implementation of parental controls. Adults are left with iPhones, children are learning Android, life goes on as usual. Tell me in the comments and in our Telegram chat how you use parental controls, let’s share experiences.