If we’re being honest, though, I don’t really think life was better or easier without such things! And I’m not even sure it was simpler. I remember printing out map directions to places and I remember setting times with people to meet them, pick them up, get picked up, etc. and it wasn’t always seamless. If you had told the old me that I’d one day have the whole world at my fingertips, I wouldn’t have been able to even imagine it. Not yet. And if you had told me I’d have to make decisions for my kids based on having the whole world at their fingertips? No. Way. It’s a unique situation to have, as well as a personal one. There’s one thing we can agree on, though.
And that’s that we need to be mindful and loving in this aspect of parenting. We need to be protective, but also supportive and encouraging. That’s why I was thrilled to find out about Family Link from Google. And that’s because it’s particularly complicated to navigate technology as a parent. In fact, it’s overwhelming. That’s why we feel this family needs a little help to set digital ground rules with the kids, and to manage the content they see. Family Link is a tool to help parents manage the kinds of content their kids see, limit the amount of screen time, and to help start the conversations around healthy relationships with technology.
Whether your children are younger – like mine – or are in their teens, the Family Link app lets you set digital ground rules to help guide your children as they learn, play, and explore online.
Family Link App From Google: Setting Digital Ground Rules With Your Kids:
Manage the Content Your Kids See on Their Device:
- The app allows you to remotely approve or decline apps your kids want to download from the Google Play Store
You can hide apps on the device at any time, so they are more productive on their device
The app also lets you approve purchases your kids want to make in their favorite apps so you don’t have to worry about in-app purchases bills
Family Link from Google lets you restrict what content your kids can see in the Play Store by maturity rating
Also, Family Link will show you app activity reports so that you can keep an eye on what they’re using on their device
Lastly, you can block specific sites, only allow a curated set of sites, and apply filters that attempt to block mature content in your Family Link settings
Managing The Amount of Time Kids Spend On Their Device:
- The app lets you set a daily limit for each day of the week so that once the time is up, the device is locked and they can only make calls if they need to
Family Link also lets you set a device bedtime so kids aren’t distracted by their devices once they get sleepy
Also, you can lock the device! You can remotely lock it anytime, and anywhere. If you have a Google Home, you can say “Hey Google, lock Scarlet’s device” and Google will do it.
Family Link lets you see where your kid is located, as long as their device is on or with them.
Lastly, let Family Link be the start of conversations about safety:
1 – Write up a contract! And maintain it, because what’s relevant now might not be relevant in a year. Technology changes fast. What you put in your contract may differ but for us, we might put that we have the right to check the phone at any time without warning. Or about smartphone use at home and in public. And how much privacy should be respected, etc.
2 – Talk to your children about inappropriate emails, texts and photos. It’s a tough conversation to have, but probably one of the most important. Let your kids know about the real legal and emotional implications involved in sending, sharing or forwarding inappropriate messages. And let them know that what they release into the internet could be there to stay.
3 – Speaking of which, talk to them about cyberbullying. Talk about the steps to take when cyberbullying occurs. And make sure you have all of their passwords for your own use, should you need it. The conversation isn’t just about smartphones being breeding grounds for cyberbullies. You should talk to your kids both about being bullied and about BEING the bully.
4 – Next, talk to your kids about not texting and driving! This is also one of the more important conversations you’ll have.
5 – Model good device behavior. That means don’t stare at your screen when your kids are talking to you. Put your phone down in the places and situations in which you ask the same of your kids – church, dinner, family time, with loved ones, etc.