Google launches new tool that lets parents turn off their teen’s phone

Tired of your kids looking at their phone during dinner? Google reveals new feature that let parents turn off their teen’s handset using its AI assistant

  • An update to Google’s Family Link app adds parental controls for teenage users
  • Now, parents can lock their teen’s smartphone from inside the Family Link app
  • The update also allows parents to lock their teen’s phone using Google Assistant 
  • They can also set screen time limits, locate their kids and block certain apps
  • The new features will roll out to Family Link users globally later this week 

Google wants to help families set some ‘digital ground rules.’ 

The search giant has added new tools to its Family Link app for teens, including one that lets parents turn off their teen’s phone. 

Now, parents don’t have to worry about their teens texting at the dinner table. 

And soon, they’ll even be able to switch off a teen’s phone using just their voice.  

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Google wants to help families set some ‘digital ground rules.’ The search giant has added new tools to its Family Link app for teens, including one that lets parents turn off their teen’s phone

Google launched Family Link last March as an app that provides parents with weekly and monthly activity reports on phone usage by children 13 and under, in an effort to curb smartphone addiction and limit screen time. 

In a blog post published Tuesday, Google explained that it’s heard from parents that the app is still useful for kids as they enter their teen years. 

So it’s launching a version of the Family Link app that’s catered to teens. The new features for teens are expected to hit phones globally starting this week. 


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When permissions are enabled, Parents will be able to lock their teen’s device from the Family Link app.

The update will also give parents the ability to do this using Google Assistant. 

For example, parents can say ‘Hey Google, lock Billy’s device,’ and teens will have a five minute window to wrap up whatever they’re doing before the device is disabled. 

Google launched Family Link last March as an app that provides parents with activity reports for children 13 and under, in an effort to curb smartphone addiction and limit screen time 

As part of the update, Family Link will soon become available on Chromebooks for both kids and teens. Previously, the Family Link app only worked with Android phones

Additionally, parents can use Google Assistant to locate their teen’s device.  

Unlike previous versions of the Family Link app, teens are able to turn off the parent supervision features when they want to. 

However, Google will let parents know when teens do this by issuing a notification. 

‘Ultimately, it’s up to each individual family to have a conversation and decide what’s right for them,’ the firm explained in the blog post.   

When Family Link is used for account holders above the age of 13, both parties have to consent before the supervision feature is turned on. 

If a teen decides to opt out of supervision after it’s been enabled, this puts the phone into lockdown mode for 24 hours. 

Parents also can’t change their teen’s devices or passwords like they can with the version for younger users. 

When Family Link is used for teens, both parties have to consent before the supervision feature is turned on. If teens opt out, this puts the phone into lockdown mode for 24 hours

The Family Link app for children allows parents to block and approve apps not suitable for children before they were downloaded from the Google Play Store

As part of the update, Family Link will soon become available on Chromebooks for both kids and teens. Previously, it only worked with Android phones.

‘The need for supervision doesn’t end with mobile devices. Now, Family Link is available for Chromebook for kids and teens, allowing parents to manage website restrictions and account settings for their child from their device,’ Google explained. 

‘Soon, parents will also be able to set screen time limits and manage the apps their child can use on Chromebooks.’ 

The Family Link app was initially launched as a way for parents to have greater control over their kid’s phone habits. 

It allows parents to block and approve apps not suitable for children before they were downloaded from the Google Play Store. 

They can also see how much time their child is spending playing their favorite apps, by viewing monthly or weekly activity reports. 

Parents can then set daily screen time limits on their kid’s handset.  

HOW MUCH SCREEN TIME SHOULD YOUR CHILD HAVE? 

0-5 years old 

1. For children younger than 24 months, avoid any digital media use with the exception of video-chatting 

2. For children 18 to 24 months of age, you can introduce digital media, but use it together with your child and avoid allowing the child to consume it alone 

3. For children 2 to 5 years old, limit screen time to one hour per day of high-quality programming; watch with your children and help them understand what they are seeing how to apply it 

4. No screen time one hour before bedtime 

5. Avoid using screen time as the only method to soothe the child (the concern is that the child might not develop the ability to regulate emotion on their own) 

6. Avoid fast-paced programs or apps with distracting or violent content 

7. Monitor children’s media content; test apps before using them and ask the child what he or she thinks about the app 

8. Bedrooms, meal times and playtimes with parents should be screen-free for both parents and child 9. See recommended hours of sleep and physical activity for your child with this 24-hour calculator. 

School-age children (5-18 years old) 

 Too much screen time has been found to cause health problems among children – and Google is helping parents monitor their usage

1. Develop and be consistent in following family guidelines for media use; assess the types of media and how much is being consumed, and what is appropriate for the child

2. Place consistent limits on hours or type of media that can be used per day Promote one hour of daily physical activity and eight to 12 hours of sleep, depending on age 

3. Try to not let children sleep with TVs, computers and smartphones in their bedrooms 

4. Avoid media use in the hour leading up to bedtime 

5. Have media-free times, like during family dinner, or create media-free areas at home 

6. Relay these guidelines to babysitters or other caregivers 

7. Have ongoing conversations with the child about online safety, whether it’s about cyberbullying, sexting, solicitations or compromising privacy 

8. Have a network of trusted adults who will engage with the child through social media.

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