Since its public debut in fall 2017, Google’s parental control software, dubbed Family Link, has been steadily expanding, both in terms of its capabilities and its reach. Today, it’s making the jump beyond smartphones for the first time, with newly added support for Chromebook computers. As on Android devices, parents will now be able to manage their child’s use of a Chromebook — including by setting time limits, managing the apps that can be downloaded, setting content filters and more.
As a Family Link household ourselves, I’ve found I prefer managing my child’s device from a single, dedicated app, rather than having to dig around in the iPhone’s settings — as I did when my daughter used to tote an iPod. (Parental controls moved to “Screen Time” on iOS 12, by the way, in case you’re wondering where the “Restrictions” section went.)
With Family Link, you can configure nearly every aspect of device usage, including content restrictions on apps, movies, TV and other media. Helpfully, you can enable settings across the Google ecosystem, as well. For example, you can turn on Google’s SafeSearch, enable a mature content filter in Chrome (or even limit Chrome to select websites), disable the child’s access to third-party apps on Google Assistant and more.
You also can track your child’s location, locate or ring a lost device (you’ll do this often) and monitor and manage screen time and device bedtime schedules.
Now parents can configure these sorts of settings on a Chromebook, too. (However, only select Chromebooks support Google Play apps.)
The expansion makes Chromebooks a more compelling option for families. Already, there are a number of affordable Chromebooks that will work well for the child’s first computer, but Family Link can also work on a shared device, Google says.
That is, the software can manage the child’s account when they’re logged in. Parents can also manage the child’s Google account from Family Link and remotely lock a supervised account, if need be.
The support for Family Link on Chromebooks follows the shutdown of Chrome’s parental controls earlier this year. At the time, we suspected that the features would make their way over to Family Link in the months ahead.