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How To Set Up Parental Controls on Android: A Step-by-Step Guide

You can’t always be there to see what your kids do on their mobile phones, but you can still keep them safe.

Damjan Jugovic Spajic Image
Updated:

May 18,2022

Parenting in the digital age poses a unique set of challenges. Parents and guardians are wary of the things their children can do and access with their smartphones. That’s where parental controls come in. These tools enable parents to set limits on their child's app access while helping them develop healthier tech habits.  

In this article, we’ll tell you how to set up parental controls on Android. But before we begin, it’s important to note that some devices like the Kurio Tab Connect come with pre-installed parental control features. The Kurio tablet uses Android 6.0 but has a KURIO GENIUS parental app that grants adults access to the system’s main features and settings. This gives parents access to all the submenus, allowing them to set their own parameters of parental control. Our guide focuses strictly on parental control setups for standard Android smartphones.

Setting Up Parental Controls on Android

You can set up parental controls on Android through both the Google Family Link app and Google Play Store app. While the Google Family Link is designed primarily for Android, it can also be installed on an iOS device to manage accounts. For children 13 and below, you can create Google accounts using either the Android or iOS version of the installed app. 

Here are the steps you need to take:

  • Open the Google Play app.
  • Tap the profile icon in the top right corner.
  • Click on Settings > Family > Parental controls.
  • Turn on Parental controls.
  • Shield your parental controls with a PIN. 
  • Select the type of content you want to filter.
  • Choose how to filter or restrict access.

Let’s break down each of the steps.

1. Open the Google Play App

Devices using Android’s operating system have the parental controls hub in this app, so you’ll need to access them from there. You’ll have to add the parental controls feature to each Android device. 

google play app

2. Tap the Profile Icon

Depending on your device, the layout of the homepage may differ. However, you are more than likely to have your profile picture shown in the search bar. Tap on it, and then select Settings.

google play settings

3. Click on Settings > Family > Parental Controls

After selecting the Settings option, you should be able to see a list of other options. Expand the one that says Family by tapping on the arrow on the right. The expanded section lets you see all available options, including your Android parental control status. 

google play settings family

If there has been no previous set-up for parental controls on the device, the settings should be off. Tap on it to continue.

4. Turn on Parental Controls

To adjust the parental control settings, parental controls need to be turned on. To do so, simply hit the button at the top right of the page.


google play parental controls

If for any reason you want to turn off parental controls in the future, you just have to tap the same button.

5. Set Up Protection for Your Parental Controls

You need to ensure that the parental controls features are only controlled by you and that your kids can’t simply switch it off whenever they want. So, naturally, you need to create a PIN. Android asks you to create one when you turn on the controls. 

parental controls android PIN

Make sure you don’t forget the PIN, as you can’t turn off parental controls without entering it. 

6. Select the Type of Content You Want to Filter

Now that you have set up parental controls and created a security PIN for parental control settings, it’s time to get down to business - filtering content your kids have access to.

google play parental controls content restriction

Google Play has categories of content available for purchase and download. Some of these include apps and games, TV, and books. Some of the items in these categories, as you already know, may not be suitable for children. To restrict access to such content, head back to the parental controls page (at the top of the page, it should say “parental controls are on”).

Then, tap on the kind of content you want to restrict. In this case, we’ll be setting restrictions for just the “Apps and Games” category.

7. Choose How to Filter or Restrict Access

android parental control settings age limit

Google has a simple limit system. All you have to do is pick the appropriate age, and the parental control system will handle the rest. Depending on your geographical location, you may see either the screen above or the one below, with PEGI ratings.

google parental control PEGI
PEGI stands for Pan European Game Information and is a rating system for video game content that helps consumers in the European market make proper decisions on what games or apps to get. It uses age recommendations and content descriptions. Both screens signify the same thing.

One important thing to note is that these restrictions block access to apps in the Play Store. They cannot shield your child from in-game advertising or content from online multiplayer gaming that may be inappropriate or harmful. Also, Android’s parental controls aren’t designed to protect kids from cyberbullying.

Setting parental controls on Android does not work retrospectively. This means the restrictions you set won’t work on previously downloaded apps. So, how can you block apps individually? This brings us to the Family Link.

If you’re looking for more advanced options for how to put parental controls on Android, then Family Link is your best bet. With Family Link, you can block apps individually, either using the web version or the app itself.

You can download the app from the Play Store or even the App Store. Once downloaded, you can create a family group by inviting your family members with Google accounts. When they’re under 13 (the minimum age requirement for managing a Google account), you can create accounts on their behalf. Here, you can set restrictions for each member, as opposed to having to set controls on individual devices.

With Family Link, you can do the following:

  • Block or allow individual apps
  • Hide apps
  • Find devices
  • Set bedtimes and other time limits

You can also receive notifications when any family member tries to download apps from the store. You will then have to approve or deny their request.

With the Family Link app, you can also limit apps’ access to your device’s hardware (like microphones or cameras), manage SafeSearch settings on the Google search engine, and filter preferences on the YouTube Kids app. While some of these features can be accessed through the Family Link website, others such as the screen-time limit feature can only be managed through the app.

Bottom Line

Ensuring your child’s internet safety is a difficult but important task. That said, you can’t monitor their daily screen time around the clock, and there is no perfect system to keep their eyes away from potentially harmful content. However, with the proper steps and a helping hand from Google’s parental controls, your kids are guaranteed a safe online experience.

Further Reading

How to Set Parental Controls on Your iPhone: The Comprehensive Guide
FAQ
What is the best parental control app for Android?

There are many great parental control apps. The one that stands out is Net Nanny, which delivers the best location tracking, app management on not just Android devices but iOS as well, and web filtering.

Can I limit who my child can text on Android?

Yes, there are a number of third-party apps you can use, but you can also block contact from strangers with the Google Fi app. The family feature only allows numbers stored in the device’s phone book to text or call your child. 

What happens when your child turns 13 on Family Link?

When your child turns 13, the parental controls on Android are no longer applicable. At that age, the child has the right to manage a regular Google account. Just before a child turns 13, Google sends an email to the parents informing them of their child’s eligibility to manage their account. 

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