Google is building parental controls into Android that will let you limit how much time your kids spend on each app

GoogleStephanie Cuthbertson, Google’s senior director of Android, announced several new privacy, security, and digital well being features for the operating system at the company’s I/O developer conference Tuesday.
  • Google is adding parental control features to Android, the company announced at its I/O developer conference Tuesday.
  • The company previously offered such features as a standalone app called Family Link.
  • Android Q, the next version of the operating system, will ship with the Family Link features built into its settings app.
  • Google will also add a new feature that will allow parents to set limits on their kids’ use of particular apps.
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Google is building parental controls directly into the next version of its Android operating system.

The company plans to take Family Link, a standalone app it launched two years ago to help parents manage their kids’ phone use, and incorporate it into the settings function of Android Q, the next iteration of the operating system, Stephanie Cuthbertson, Google’s senior director of Android, said Tuesday. Instead of having to download the app through the Google Play store, users will be able to go into their device’s settings and set limits on their kids’ phone activity or review apps they want to install.

“For 84% of us parents, technology use by our kids is a top concern,” Cuthbertson said as she made the announcement at the company’s annual I/O developer conference in Mountain View, California.

Read this: Everything Google announced at its biggest conference of the year

Consumers could previously use the Family Link app on both Android phones and Apple iPhones to set limits for kids using Android devices. Through the app, parents could monitor how much time their children were on their phones, designate a bedtime when they could no longer use their device each day, and approve or block apps they want to install. They will be able to do those same things in Q, but without having to download a separate app.

But even as it’s adding Family Link into Android, Google is adding some new features to it. Parents will be able to set time limits on their kids’ use of specific apps, such as Snapchat or Instagram. And they will be able to tap a button to grant their kids a few minutes of “bonus time,” if they have reached their limits.

Both Google and Apple have been increasingly focusing on such well-being features in the wake of criticism from researchers and advocates, including former Google engineer Tristan Harris. Harris in particular has chided tech companies for trying to extract more and more attention from consumers.

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