Google Family Link (2023) review: It's free, but is it any good? (2023)

Google Family Link is a decent free parental control app for Android and Chromebook users, but it lacks many of the features that premium parental control apps likeQustodioor not nanny.

Google Family Link has most of the basic features you'd expect from a parental control app.including web and app filtering, screen time and usage limits, and location tracking. Uniquely, Google Family Link also allows you to limit the apps your kids can download from Google Play and approve or reject their purchases on Google Play.

What you won't find in Google Family Link are features like more granular web filtering and screen time limiting tools, geofencing, or the ability to monitor your child's texts.There's no web app, so you can only monitor your child's device usage from your phone. And it effectively stops working once your child turns 13 (or whatever age applies in your country), as they are given the ability to turn off their supervision. Also, many of Google Family Link's monitoring features don't work on Windows, macOS, iPhones, and iPads.

For all these reasons, I cannot recommend Google Family Link as your primary parental control app.Rather, it makes more sense to use paid parental control apps likeQustodio, not nanny, orThe Norton Family, giving you finer control and access to advanced features to monitor your children's online activities and protect them from inappropriate online content.

🏅 Overall rankingrang 10of 12 child safety devices
🖥️ Web and app filtering
⏲️ Time limits
📍 Location tracking
💸 Initial priceFrei
📀 Supported operating systemsAndroid, Chromebook
📱 Number of devicesUnlimited

Google Family LinkFull review

Google Family Link (2023) review: It's free, but is it any good? (1)

After extensive testing and research on Google Family Link, I have come to the conclusion that it is a simple yet functional parental control app.

With Google Family Link, you can filter websites and apps, set usage limits for apps and devices, and track your child's location. You can also filter the apps your kids can see on Google Play and manage their in-app purchases.

But Google Family Link is missing a lot of useful features that are availableThe best parental control apps. So if you're looking for a more versatile and powerful solution, consider using a premium app likeQustodio,netto-nanny, oThe Norton Familyinstead of this.

Features of Google Family Link

Google Family Link offers the following features:

  • Web and app filtering— Choose which websites your kids can visit and which apps they can install.
  • time limits— Set a limit for how long your kids can use their devices.
  • location tracking— It shows you where your children are.
  • planning— Select specific times of the day or week when your child may or may not use their device.
  • activity reports— Shows you information about your child's device usage, including screen time, app installs, apps used, and more.

In addition, Google Family Link has other useful features, such as: B. the ability to filter what your child can see on Google Play and manage in-app purchases.

Important:When your child turns 13 (or whatever the age requirements for a Google Account are in your country), they'll have the opportunity to manage their own account. This means they have the ability to stop controlling your Google account at any time, without your permission. However, they will receive a notification if they do, and their device will be locked for 24 hours, giving you a chance to talk to your child about it.

Web filtering and monitoring

Google Family Link (2023) review: It's free, but is it any good? (2)

Google Family Link web filters let you decide what types of websites your child can visit.It does this by giving you the ability to block explicit websites and search results, and filter websites with a customizable blacklist and whitelist. I tested the filters on my son's device by entering search terms that would normally return results you might not want your son to see, and successfully removed explicit and adult content (such as violence and blood) from his Google removed from the results of search. It even works for Google image search.Google Family Link (2023) review: It's free, but is it any good? (3)

Google Family Link's web filtering and web monitoring tools are seriously lacking compared to those of premium parental control apps.Options includeTry to block explicit websitesand turn onsafe search, but that's all whileQustodio,netto-nanny, YThe Norton FamilyThey all allow you to filter by different categories of content, such as entertainment and music, adult content, shopping, advertising, file sharing, social media, alcohol, gambling, and more.

Google Family Link (2023) review: It's free, but is it any good? (4)

Google Family Link uses Google's built-in browsing history feature to let you monitor what your kids are doing online.To do this, you can decide whether or not your child's Google account will save their activities on Google websites and apps.

But there are some major downsides to this feature.First, you'll need to sign in to your child's account and go to their Google account manager to see what they've searched for and the websites they've visited (the information isn't directly accessible from the Google Family Link app). And second, it's easily circumvented by tech-savvy kids as they can simply delete their browsing history, because for whatever reason, Google Family Link doesn't disable their ability to do so.

Google Family Link (2023) review: It's free, but is it any good? (5)

If you want to control your child's browsing history, I'd rather youQustodioonetto-nanny,With it, you can check your child's browsing history right from the parental control app and keep an independent record of your child's online activities, so your child can't just delete the records.

(Video) How to set up Google Family Link | Step-by-step tutorial to protecting your kids online (2022)

Google Family Link web monitoring is pretty barren in terms of additional features.For example, you can setQustodioto notify you when your children try to access certain websites (instead of blocking them outright), andThe Norton Familyallows your kids to request access to a blocked website right from the app, so they don't have to call or notify you if you've accidentally blocked a safe website.

Google Family Link's search filtering is based on Google's built-in SafeSearch feature.So it won't work if your child uses another search engine (you can try to get around this by blacklisting the site, but it's cumbersome and not a perfect solution). Web filtering also only works in the Google Chrome browser, but luckily you can use Google Family Link's app filter feature to block access to unsupported browsers.

In general, Google Family Link's web filtering and monitoring is not one of the highlights.It's incredibly limited compared to other parental control apps, it's not particularly user-friendly, and some of its features are easily bypassable.

weather monitoring

Google Family Link (2023) review: It's free, but is it any good? (6)

With Google Family Link, you can set daily device usage limits and restricted times for your kids on Android and Chromebooks.Daily limits can be set individually for each day of the week. It starts with "no limit" and can be set up to a maximum of 8 hours in 15 minute increments. You can also choose to leave a device "locked all day."

The Bedtime tab allows you to select a period of time when your child will not be able to use their device- so they don't stay up all night playing games on their phones or chatting with their friends. You can set different "bedtimes" for different days of the week, in case you want to be a bit more lenient on Friday or Saturday nights, for example.

If your child has exceeded their daily screen time limit for a given day or if it's their set bedtime, your child's device will be locked automaticallyand they can't do anything with it except make emergency calls. You can also lock your device manually from your dashboard (either immediately or after a certain amount of time).

I found Google Family Link's existing time tracking features to be quite intuitive and worked flawlessly during my tests.However, it lacks functionality compared to the time monitoring features of other parental control apps. For example, you can't set multiple blackout hours with Google Family Link like you can with Google Family Link.QustodioYnetto-nanny. It annoyed me that I couldn't set a "bedtime" and also limit my son's device use between 5 p.m. m. and 7 p.m. m. if you wanted them to focus on the task.

I would also have liked a feature as desiredthe norton familyschool days,This allows parents to exclude device use during school hours from daily screen time limits and set web filters specifically for school hours (so you can block sites like YouTube or Reddit that may distract your child from study).

Overall, Google Family Link's time-tracking features are pretty good, but the limited range of settings didn't give me as much control over my son's device usage as I would have liked.

application monitoring

Google Family Link (2023) review: It's free, but is it any good? (7)

The monitoring of the Google Family Link app for Android and Chromebooks is excellent, giving parents very granular control.It lists all the apps installed on your child's device and allows you to block each one individually or set time limits. You can even set certain apps to "Always Allow" so the time you spend using that app doesn't count toward your daily screen time limit.

One of the most powerful and unique features of the Google Family Link app monitoring is the ability to manage what your child can browse, buy, or download on Google Play.You can set filters on what they can see and install on Google Play without your permission, based on the content rating. You can also choose to ask for your consent before your child can make in-app purchases. To prevent your child from circumventing these restrictions, you can prohibit the installation of applications from sources other than Google Play.

Google Family Link (2023) review: It's free, but is it any good? (8)

Other parental control apps can't filter what your child sees when browsing Google Play or what they can download- You can only block or restrict apps that are already on your child's phone. You also don't have the option to manage Google Play purchases. This makes a good argument for using Google Family Link in conjunction with other parental control apps.

Overall, I'm very pleased with Google Family Link's app monitoring feature.It is easy to use and has many advanced features that are not available in other parental control apps. It's a shame it can't be used on iOS or non-Chromebook operating systems.

location monitoring

Google Family Link (2023) review: It's free, but is it any good? (9)

Google Family Link's location monitoring is pretty rudimentary.You can see where your child is (or their last known position) by providing their position on Google Maps if you're using an Android or Chromebook. It also gives you the option to play a sound from your child's device to help locate it, which can be useful if your child has lost it somewhere in the house, for example.

However, Google Family Link does not offer a location history feature.that shows you detailed information about where and when your child has been and a geofencing feature that notifies you when your child enters or leaves a predefined zone.

If you're looking for a parental control app with great location tracking, I highly recommend checking this one out.The Norton Familyinstead of this.It has a location history feature and allows you to create multiple geofence zones, each covering up to 2 miles (a huge range compared to most parental control apps). You can also set it to notify you of your child's location at set times during the day, and it offers a less intrusive alternative to real-time location tracking (if you don't want to be too intrusive) by letting your child in your place, shares its location with you through its kids app.

(Video) Family Link Hack 2021 WORKING (Unlimited time + download any app) Unltd time may be patched for now!

Overall, I think Google Family Link's location tracking lacks the advanced features needed to give parents peace of mind.It's good for seeing your child's current location, but nothing else.

video surveillance

Google Family Link (2023) review: It's free, but is it any good? (10)

Google Family Link's video monitoring feature only applies the same broad filters that are used for web monitoring on YouTube.This means that you have little control over the specific types of content that are removed from your child's YouTube.

Google Family Link also lets you decide whether or not YouTube saves your child's search and watch history.But this feature has the same problems as Google Family Link web monitoring. First, information about what your child has searched for and watched on YouTube is impractically hidden in your child's Google Account Manager (which means you have to sign in to your account to see it) instead of easily accessed through the parental control app. Second, it doesn't prevent your child from simply deleting his YouTube search and viewing history from her.

Google Family Link (2023) review: It's free, but is it any good? (11)

In general, Google Family Link's "video surveillance" feature is pretty bad.If you're concerned about what your child sees online, consider usingQustodioInstead, you can also filter inappropriate content on YouTube, track your child's search and watch history independently in your app (so your child can't just delete search and watch history themselves), and it is much easier to use.

activity reports

Google Family Link (2023) review: It's free, but is it any good? (12)

Google Family Link doesn't offer a convenient way to see all of your child's activities in one place.That does not mean that the information is not available, but you have to look for it.

A screen shows you how much time your child has spent on their device or individual apps. Another screen, located elsewhere, shows her what apps she has recently installed. And to see what websites they've visited and what YouTube videos they've watched, you'll need to sign in to your Google account and then navigate through various screens to access your browsing/playback history.

This is, as you probably realize, incredibly frustrating. Unlike,QustodioIt neatly organizes all the collected information and puts it at your fingertips in one central place (your dashboard) so it's super easy to review.

Overall, I'm disappointed with how painful it is to monitor a child's activity using Google Family Link.It's a strange oversight considering that this is one of the main features of a parental control app.

Google Family LinkInstallation and configuration

Google Family Link offers parental control apps for iOS, Android, and web browsers, as well as apps for kids on Android and Chromebooks.

kids appsparenting apps
Android y ChromebookiOS, Android, navegador web (Edge, Firefox, Chrome)

Downloading and installing the parent app and kid app is quick and easy, with clear on-screen instructions to guide you through each step of the process. The entire process should only take 10-15 minutes, including the time it takes to set up the initial permissions for the child's device.

To use Google Family Link, you must download the Google Family Link app from your device's app store and install it on your device. Then open the app and selectpadreWhen asked who will use the device, clickI'm readywhen prompted to create a family group.

Google Family Link (2023) review: It's free, but is it any good? (13)

You will then be asked if your child already has a Google account. if you chooseNO, the app will guide you through the process of creating a Google account for your child. if you chooseY, you'll be asked to get your child's device and follow a series of simple on-screen instructions to set up parental controls.

One thing I liked about the setup process is that it detects if there are multiple accounts on your child's Android phone and prompts them to remove accounts until there is only one left. This is an important step, otherwise your child can evade her supervision by logging in with a different account.

Google Family Link (2023) review: It's free, but is it any good? (14)

Once this is done, you should receive a screen telling you that you are ready to change the settings and permissions of your child's device.

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Google Family Link (2023) review: It's free, but is it any good? (15)

Google Family Link Ease of Use

The Google Family Link parenting apps are mixed in terms of usability.Most of its basic features are pretty intuitive (although the paucity of advanced features is partly to blame). Each setting and feature is clearly labeled with short explanations so you understand what they do. However, there are some settings and features in Google Family Link that can be hard to find or access, and it's annoying that the web app isn't fully functional.

On the other hand, all of Google Family Link's kids' apps are pretty basic.Whether your kids want to see how much screen time they have left or what they can and can't do without permission, it's all very clear. Note, however, that Google Family Link doesn't have a kids' app for iOS.

mobile phones and tablets

Google Family Link (2023) review: It's free, but is it any good? (16)

The Google Family Link parental apps for Android and iOS are the best way to access parental controls, but they do have some issues.The interface is clean and changing settings and permissions for most basic things is quick and easy. The Android and iOS apps are also nearly identical in design and features, so you won't have a problem switching between them or get penalized for using a specific operating system.

However, I don't like that there's no central location from which you can easily check all of your child's activities, and some advanced features are arranged illogically.For example, to change whether or not your child's YouTube search and viewing history is saved, you'll need to go through Google's search settings, not YouTube settings, as you might expect. Similarly, for some reason, the feature that allows you to play a sound from your child's device (to help you locate it if she's lost it somewhere in the house, for example) isn't right under the tab location.

The Google Family Link mobile apps are your primary means of managing your children's account settings, device permissions, and more. So it's good that it's generally intuitive. But sooner or later you're going to run into some frustrations due to some weird oversights and questionable design decisions.

Web Application

The Google Family Link web app isn't the best.Accessing it through your browser is quite complicated. First you need to sign in to your Google account, then you need to goManage your Google account, clickpeople and shareand then clickManage your family group. From there, you can finally select the child whose activities you want to view or whose permissions you want to change. I recommend bookmarking the site if you use it regularly.

Google Family Link (2023) review: It's free, but is it any good? (17)

Another major problem I had with the Google Family Link web app is that many features are not available.The web application allows you to change various settings, e.g. B. Disable and enable SafeSearch or restricted mode on YouTube, edit the list of blacklisted or whitelisted sites, and allow or block specific apps (but don't set daily usage limits).

Google Family Link (2023) review: It's free, but is it any good? (18)

However, you can't set screen time limits, see how long your child has been using their device or an app on any given day, or track your child's location through the web app. You also cannot add more parents or guardians to your family group. These features are only available on the mobile app.

The number of clicks it takes to access Google Family Link parental controls in a browser and the sheer number of features it's missing are pretty frustrating.As such, I find the Google Family Link web app rather lacking in comparison.The Norton FamilyYQustodios, which are almost identical to their mobile apps.

Google Family LinkKunden support

Google Family Link (2023) review: It's free, but is it any good? (19)

Google Family Link does not have its own support channel- so you better hope the help center and FAQ on the website can answer your questions. Still, I found the articles there to be quite detailed and helpful.

Help articles describe how to set up and use almost all the features of Google Family Link, including managing your child's screen time, app permissions, purchase approvals, and more. And the FAQ answers many frequently asked questions about the app, like "What happens when my child turns 13" or "Can parents use Family Link on iOS?"

Combined with Google Family Link's easy-to-use interface and the simple on-screen explanations and instructions provided within the app, I didn't have too much trouble installing or navigating the app for the most part.

If, despite reading the help articles and FAQs, you're still confused or have a very specific question that isn't answered in any of the articles, you don't have much choice.

Other parental control apps offer much better customer support.Qustodio, for example, has an excellent ticketing system and priority phone support if you have the Care Plus plan, andThe Norton Familyhat 24/7 Live-Chat-Support.

Google Family Link is a free parental control app, but is it good enough in 2023?

Although the prices can't be beat (totally free!), GoogleFamily Link is sometimes too basic and cumbersome to recommend as a standalone parental control app.

(Video) How to Set Up Google Family Link | Google's Parental Controls App Step By Step Tutorial

It has all the essential parental control features like web and app filtering, time limits, scheduling, location tracking, and activity reports.The app's monitoring features are one of the best things about it, giving you powerful tools to restrict what your child can view and download from Google Play and manage their Google Play purchases. However, almost all other features lack useful features that you can find in other brands likeQustodio, babysitter network,The Norton Family, YCall.

Web and search filtering is a particularly obvious example. Instead of letting you filter by content category like other parental control apps, Google Family Link just gives you a simple way to enable and disable Google's inherent SafeSearch setting, as well as blacklist or whitelist websites. Similarly, the Browsing History and Video Monitoring "Features" simply give you the ability to prevent your child from disabling Chrome's and YouTube's native browsing history and playback history saving features, and does nothing. to prevent them from doing it. .

The lack of support for children's apps on iOS and non-Chromebook operating systems is also a big con for me, along with the extremely limited web app for parents. I don't understand why I can't see my child's location, set screen time or app usage limits, or access activity reports from their web app. If you use Google Family Link, please note that once your child turns 13, they will be given the opportunity to stop monitoring their device at any time without your consent (although you will be notified if this is the case).

All in all, Google Family Link shouldn't be your best choice as a parental control app in 2023.It may be free, but that comes at a high price. At best, I would consider using it as a companion alongside better parental control apps just for its unique app monitoring features.

frequent questions

Is Google Family Link really free?

Yes, Google Family Link is 100% free.There is no premium version or features that you have to pay money to use. You get access to all that Google Family Link has to offer simply by having a Google account.

That doesn't mean there isn't a price, though: Google Family Link just doesn't have the same depth and breadth of features available as theThe best parental control apps on the market. QustodioYou can monitor your children's calls and text messages.netto-nannyfeatures advanced content filters and real-time text analysis to better protect your children from inappropriate online content. ANDThe Norton Familyit has one of the best site monitoring features out there.

Does Google Family Link work on PC and macOS?

Yes and no.Google Family Link has a parental web app that you can access on any operating system and browser (Chrome, Edge, Firefox, etc.) and you can use it to change various settings and permissions for your child. However, the web app has very limited functionality compared to mobile apps.

While Google Family Link can manage some of a child's account settings regardless of operating system, many of its parental controls aren't available if your child is using Windows or macOS. If you want to monitor your child's laptop usage, you need to get a Chromebook.

For a parental control app with a good web app and full monitoring for PC and macOS, consider usingQustodio,netto-nanny, YThe Norton Familyinstead of this.

Does Google Family Link work on iPhones and iPads?

Yes and no.Google Family Link has a parental app for iPhone and iPad that you can download from the App Store that parents can use to monitor their children's activities and change various settings and permissions.

However, if the child is using an iPhone or iPad, many features will not be available. This includes the ability to filter and block apps, set app and screen time limits, locate your device, and more.

If your kids use an iPhone or iPad, give it a tryone of our best parental control apps for iOSinstead of this.

Does Google Family Link work for children over 13?

Yes and no.You can continue to supervise children if they are over the age of 13 (the exact number may vary by country), but they can choose to stop supervising at any time. However, if they turn supervision off, you will be notified and your device will be temporarily locked (for 24 hours, unless parents unlock it).

Qustodio,netto-nanny, YThe Norton FamilyDo not allow a child to leave supervision without your permission and it may best accommodate your needs.

Can I control my child's calls and text messages with Google Family Link?

No, Google Family Link can't block calls or monitor text messages.A good parental control app that offers these features isQustodio, which allows you to read your child's text messages and block or whitelist incoming or outgoing calls.Callis another good alternative. It won't allow you to block calls or contacts, and will only allow you to view text messages with problematic content (related to bullying, violence, or suicidal thoughts), but it's a good option if you want to be less intrusive. Bark can also monitor your child's social media.

Can my child bypass Google Family Link by switching accounts?

No, Google Family Link has a setting that prevents your child from bypassing supervision on supported devices and platforms.It does this by preventing them from adding or removing users on the monitored device.This setting is on by default.

Can Google Family Link see browsing history?

Yes and no.By default, Google saves each user's browsing history unless you turn it off in Settings, and Google Family Link can prevent your child from turning it off. The problem is that Google Family Link doesn't prevent a tech-savvy kid from deleting activity history entries that she doesn't want them to see. Furthermore, it also does not store any search history on other search engines.

Other parental control apps that don't rely on Google's built-in web and app activity history feature may likeQustodio,netto-nanny,The Norton Familythey are much better at monitoring browsing history.

Can Google Family Link view YouTube history?

Yes and no.YouTube saves each user's YouTube watch and search history by default, unless you turn it off in Settings, and Google Family Link can prevent your child from turning it off. The problem is that Google Family Link doesn't prevent a tech-savvy kid from simply deleting search and viewing history entries that she doesn't want them to see.

Other parental control apps that don't rely on YouTube's built-in search and watch history features, such as:Qustodiothey are much better at monitoring YouTube usage.

(Video) Google Family Link - How To Manage Your Child's Screen Time

Can Google Family Link see activity in incognito mode?

No, Google Family Link only prevents your child from using incognito mode.If you want a parental control app that takes a less brutal approach, give it a try.Qustodio,netto-nanny, oThe Norton Family. All these parental control apps can monitor and block websites even if your child uses incognito/private mode.


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