Google Is Officially PG-13: Allows Parents To Lock Their Teens' Smartphones

If a parent asks Google Assistant "Hey Google, lock Rahul’s device", Rahul would have 5 minutes to wrap up before the phone gets locked

What may come straight out of an apocalyptic movie for teenagers, Google has decided to extend parental control to mobile devices all over the world. Called Family Link, the software is aimed at parents of children over the age of 13 so they can get “involved as their kids grow more attached to devices”.

Through Family Link, parents will be able to lock and locate their devices with just a voice command. They can also manage and track screen time, as well as control which apps can be installed. For example, if parents ask Google Assistant “Hey Google, lock Rahul’s device”, Rahul would have 5 minutes to wrap up before the phone gets locked. The voice command can recognize up to 6 different voices. If it hears questions from a child, it is programmed to give “kid-friendly” responses.

google family link

Family Link is technically available to anyone with an existing Google account. According to a statement on Google’s blog,

‘Family Link originally launched for kids under-13, but we’ve heard overwhelmingly from parents that the app is still useful as their kids enter their teen years. This week, parents around the world will be able to use Family Link to supervise their teen’s existing Google Account for the first time.’

Although it hasn’t yet completely become Orwellian for teenagers (yet) as they can anytime opt out of parental supervision, however, the parents will be notified. However, this would put the phone into a 24-hour lockdown. Also, parents won’t be able to change their teenage kids’ devices or change their passwords, like they can for younger children. Installing Family Link would have to be done with the permission of teenagers.

Though the features have already been rolled out, the updated Google Assistant voice commands will be available from next week.