Google Helps Parents Monitor their Children’s Internet Use

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We are in the age of information technology and the population that have internet access is increasing rapidly. Included in this population, are children ranging from as little as 5 years old to young adults at 18 years old. There is a vast majority of content that’s out there in the internet, most of which is unfiltered and harmful to the growing minds of the youth. Therefore, it is essential to limit and control the access given to them in order to protect them from the negative impact that the internet and technology could have on them. Google has developed an application called “Family Link” which helps parents stay in the loop as their children use their phones, tablets, and similar devices. (Rothman, 2017)

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With the rise of technology, it has become increasingly difficult for parents to control their children’s use of technology. Kids nowadays are a lot smarter than they used to be, and they tend to grasp and adapt to technology a lot faster than their seniors. They pick up skills at an early age and become proficient with technology. However, that could be a blessing and a curse. Being technology proficient at a young age is advantageous for the future, but this also means they are prone to the dangers of the internet and technology at an early age. Most children nowadays know the loopholes to access content they aren’t supposed to.

Statistics say that 44% of teens admitted they’ve watched something online their parents wouldn’t approve of and only 15% of parents are aware of their kid’s social networking habits. (GuardChild, 2017) The more time they spend online without limitations, the more they are prone to unfiltered material. However, there are many applications and software that gives parents the ability to filter the content their young ones are given access to and limit the usage of devices. Smartphone and tablet demand among children are on the rise and this is the market that companies should focus on when developing parental control applications. Growing Wireless states that 56% of children, age 8 to 12, have a cellphone and 58% of teenagers have access to a tablet computer. (Growing Wireless, 2017)

Wilson Rothman had tested the beta version of Family Link and he discusses in his article about how Tablets, phones and iPods are pulling children into a “black hole” and about the resources that are available in the current market that helps parents to be in control of this situation. Google, as of recent, have changed their policy on child accounts. Now even children under the age of 13 can have them, provided they approved by a parent and set up through Family Link. Apple and Amazon have their own set of controls for their iPhone/iPad/iPod and Kindle devices respectively. Wilson states that FamilyLink is mix of Apple’s and Amazon’s best feature baked in with Google’s own. However, there is a catch to using Family Link. For all of this to function properly, Google requires the parents to provide some personal information of their children, like data about their online habits. As of now, the Family Link app is only available to Android devices, with an iOS to be released soon.

Family Link enables the child to experience their Android-based device just like any normal device on the base of it, but keeping them protected from the certain evils of adulthood that they might come across when using google apps like Google Search, Chrome, PlayStore and YouTube. The safe-search feature is enable by default and according to Google, the search results are catered to children. All these filtering features look ideal in the eyes of a parent, however the feature that stands out the most in Google Link is their remote access portal. (Rothman, 2017)

Parents are now able to locate their child’s devices on a map, access their account and device setting and even factory reset the device, all of which can be done remotely. Another great set of Family Link features is that it allows the parents to set time constraints and off-limit hours, and even monitor the children’s usage on various apps. If too much time is spent on a certain app, the parent can turn it off for a while, or if it is bed time, they could lock the device until the next day.

For the app to be compatible with a device, the device should be running the latest Android firmware, Nougat. If Family Link turns out be successful, it could open new sales opportunities for manufacturers. Parents who were then reluctant to buy tablets and smartphones for their kids due to the risks of not being able to control them can now feel more comfortable about the matter as they have access to control their children’s devices using their own. The new parental controls can help Google expand their user base while complying with laws such as the Child Online Privacy Protection Rule, which regulates the restrictions put upon websites and services that cater to children under the age of 13. Another advantage for Google in terms of profitability is that they will still be able to use ads on their services, however they will need to be age- appropriate advertising.

It is not only Google that has parental control software, there are tons of them out there in the app stores but they aren’t as popular. The most popular ones in the market are the ones that are already built into the systems, the Apple iOS control system on Apple devices and Amazon’s control system on Kindle. They all have similar features and remote access controls. However, with Google’s popularity, we could hope that a broader demographic would be reached by this app and more parents would start paying attention to their children’s whereabouts in the internet and their use of technology and utilize the resources to protect their children.

References

  1. Family Link. (n.d.). Retrieved March 19, 2017, from https://families.google.com/familylink/
  2. Growing Wireless. (2017, March 19). Kids Wireless Use Facts. Retrieved from Growing Wireless: http://www.growingwireless.com/get-the-facts/quick-facts
  3. GuardChild. (2017, March 19). Internet Statistics. Retrieved from GuardChild: https:// www.guardchild.com/statistics/
  4. Rothman, W. (2017, March 15). Google Gives Parents Greater Powers. Retrieved from The Wall Street Journal: https://www.wsj.com/articles/google-gives-parents-greater- powers-1489594364
  5. Ward, V. (2013, May 01). Children using internet from age of three, study finds. Retrieved from The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/internet/10029180/ Children-using-internet-from-age-of-three-study-finds.html 
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Google Helps Parents Monitor Their Children's Internet Use. (2021, Apr 04). Retrieved October 6, 2022 , from
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