Google is adding screen time limits and other parental controls for Chromebooks

Hey parents, Google is strengthening parental controls on Chromebooks.

The company announced updated Family Link features to help you get a better handle on what your kids are doing on Google’s cloud-based computers and to impose time limit and bedtime restrictions on when they can use the machines. 

The Family Link app was introduced by Google in 2017, originally on Android. According to Google, 50 percent of kids between ages 6 and 12 either have their own or share a laptop, thus the need to add or improve tools for parents on Chromebooks.

Such tools include a “supervision” feature inside Family Link that will let you drum up a list of websites that your kid or kids are allowed to visit on Chromebooks, or not. You can also review and approve the apps the kids can download through Google Play. And if you choose, you’ll be able to hide individual apps and manage in-app purchases for the apps that are already installed on the computer.

The way Google has set things up, teens may gain a little more freedom on the computers, meaning that though you can continue to supervise them from afar, teens can actually turn this feature off. You will get alerted if and when they do.

Among other restrictions: Kids are not allowed to use incognito mode, a tool otherwise available to adults to browse the web privately.

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By enabling screen-time tools for the first time in Family Link, you can set daily time limits that work across all the activities a kid may engage in on the computer, as well as when you decide they need to shut down completely at bedtime.

From the Family app, you can view activity reports that let you know how much time your kids are spending on apps, on Chromebooks, and, for that matter, on Android phones and tablets as well.

 While such tools assist in managing screen time, they are no substitute to having frequent dialogs with the kids on what you as a family decide is the right time and place for them to spend time on their devices.

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