Android mobile devices for kids can be a godsend for parents. They can keep children entertained for hours, broaden their minds with knowledge and new experiences, and keep them connected to their friends and family at the touch of a button. However, parents should be aware of the risks associated with mobile devices. The good news is that Android devices come equipped with parental controls, meaning that you can let your children enjoy their mobile devices with extra peace of mind that they are safe and protected.
Why you should use parental controls on Android
Finding a balance between encouraging your kids' digital freedom and keeping them safe online might seem tricky, but using parental controls on their Android devices can help. In general, parental controls come with lots of benefits. These include:
- Setting screen time limits so that your kids don't spend excessive amounts of time using their device
- Restricting certain types of content so that your kids only come across age-appropriate things
- Keeping your children safe from online risks
- Tracking your child’s online activity
- Blocking certain games or apps
When to use parental control on Android
When to start using parental controls on Android devices that your kids use is completely up to you as a parent. It can be useful to start using them from the get-go though, as a proactive way to keep your kids safe online. This way, the online protection starts from day one and mitigates the risk of your child stumbling across something inappropriate and getting upset or confused.
Can I add restrictions to both Android phones and tablets?
Yes! It's possible to add parental control restrictions to both Android phones and tablets. If your kids use both devices, it can be best to cover all bases and set up restrictions across both. This way, their experience will be consistent. One of the easiest ways to add restrictions to both Android phones and tablets is to add a pin lock. To do this, simply follow these steps:
- From the Home screen on the device you want to pin lock, select the Settings icon
- Under the Settings menu, select Security and Screen Lock found under the Personal sub-heading
- Within Screen Security, select Screen Lock; you will then be prompted to enter a Pattern, PIN or Password
How to set up parental controls on Android
You can set up additional parental controls on your Android devices through the Google Play Store App:
- Tap the menu button (it looks like three horizontal lines in the search bar)
- Select settings
- Scroll down to Parental Controls and turn this feature on
- From the Parental Controls display, you can set custom restrictions for the apps, games, films, TV, magazines and movies that the account can access
How to add a new user account
Adding a user account on your phone or tablet is useful when you expect that your child will be using it regularly to play games, listen to music, go on social media or just browse the internet. By creating a user account for your child, you can ensure that they have parental controls that will not affect your personal usage.
To add a user account on your Android device, you will need to register your child for an account through Google Family Link. To do this, go to the Family Link page, sign in to your personal Google account and follow the steps outlined to set up a Google Family and make yourself a manager. Here you can either create a new child account which you will be able to manage.
On your phone, open the Settings menu, select System, and choose Advanced. Next, select Multiple Users, click Add User, Set Up Now. You will be prompted to enter the Google login information for your child’s new user account on your android device. You will need to agree to the Terms of Service and will be asked to set up a passcode, PIN or fingerprint.
Under this feature, you can add as many user accounts as you need for your whole family.
How to restrict Google Play Store
Follow these simple instructions to restrict access to and purchases on the Google Play Store:
- Find and open the Google Play Store app from your app drawer
- Once you are on the main screen, tap on the three horizontal bars in the upper left corner
- Tap on Settings
- Tap on Require Authentication for purchase and select either every 30 minutes or for all purchases through Google Play on this device
- You’ll be asked to enter your Google account’s password. Enter it
- Tap on OK
How to restrict other Android-based content
It is possible for you as a parent to also restrict other Android-based content, giving you extra control over your children's online activity and even more peace of mind that they will have safe, age-appropriate online experiences. These include restricting access to some websites, setting data limits and adding age restrictions.
How to restrict access to some websites
Blocking children from specific websites on your family’s Android devices can prevent them from accessing malicious or inappropriate content. Unfortunately, blocking websites on an Android device is more complicated than most parental controls. We recommend setting the device’s web browser to Firefox (since Google Chrome does not have these features.
Once you have Firefox, search for the LeechBlock NG addon. This add-on will help you to block any website you want and when. For example, if you only block your kids' social media accounts on school days, LeechBlock will enable you to do this.
How to set data limits
It's easy to get carried away online, especially when you are a kid having lots of fun! This can result in data overage fees from your mobile internet provider. If your child has regular access to a phone or tablet with mobile data coverage, it is worth considering setting a limit on how much they can use per month. Teaching your child that data is not unlimited like Wi-Fi and that there are consequences if they go over can eventually help them learn to budget their consumption.
To set data limits on the android device that your child uses regularly go to Settings on the device. Click Data Usage and then Set Mobile Data Limit. To set the day the data allowance refreshes, click on Change Cycle to choose the correct day of the month. Next, you will be presented with a graph with two lines: the first is set to be a warning for when you are close to reaching your data limit, and the second is your actual data limit. Drag the lines up or down to adjust to your preferences.
It is recommended that you set the warning line to 75% of your data allowance. For example, If you set your child’s data allowance at 4GB per month, they would get a warning on their android device when they have to reach 3GB. This tells them that they are close to going over and that they need to ration their data usage until their allowance resets.
How to add age restrictions
For families who have not signed up for Google’s Family Link app, you will need to set your child’s age restrictions from their device or any device that they use regularly. Go to the devices Google Play store app, tap settings, family, and then parental controls. If you have previously set parental controls under this account, it will prompt you for your PIN. If not, then it will ask you to set one.
If you have the Family Link app, then you can do this easily through the app instead of each child’s phone. As the manager of your family's Google accounts, your Family Link app will enable you to set age restrictions from the comfort of your android device. To do this, open the Family Link app, select the child you want to add the restrictions for, click age restrictions, and then choose the appropriate age for your child.
Under these age restrictions, the Google Play Store app will only show apps, games, and other appropriate media for your child. For example, if you selected 7+, the Play Store will show apps appropriate for children between 7 and 12.
How to set up purchase prevention
If you are worried that your child will buy apps or games on one of your family’s Android devices without your knowledge, you can set up purchase prevention restrictions under parental controls. Under this feature, each purchase will require authentication such as a password or PIN.
To set up Purchase Prevention, go to the Google Play Store app on the mobile device that you want to set restrictions on, select Settings, Authentication, and then Require Authentication for Purchases. Finally, you will choose the Option For All Google Play Purchases on this Device. To change these settings, you will need to input your Google password.
You can also manage purchase prevention through Google’s Family Link app. From this app, you can choose to block any app which needs to be paid for. To do this, open the Family Link app, select the child’s account that you want to set restrictions for, and then App activity. You can choose to block all apps and games that require purchases.
Set spending controls and get real-time spending notifications with GoHenry
If your child has a prepaid kids debit card with GoHenry, you’ll get updates whenever your child uses their card and an alert if it's ever declined - giving you total peace of mind.
You can also decide where and how much kids can spend and use your parent app to easily add or change the settings.