Update: I stated in the article preserved below that you couldn’t add a supervised user account to a Chromebook that has pre-existing regular Google accounts signed in. You actually can. If a supervised account is managed by an organization and that organization has not blocked sign-ins from accounts outside of their managed domain, you can actually add them! Family Link continues to impress me the more I research it. Enjoy!
Update: Google for Education recently released a video showing users with school accounts how to set up and use Family Link. We totally missed this at the time of publishing this article and we saw that many of you expressed frustrations about School accounts not being able to be used with parental controls. Now you can!
Many of you have, no doubt, purchased a Chromebook for your kids for Christmas, and after setting it up, you may have noticed that there are a lot of things they can do on them that you’d probably prefer they didn’t. Unfettered access to Youtube and all of its dark corners, websites that aren’t exactly for kids, and even Google Play Store content that has ratings above their age range.
Today, instead of explaining to you here in excruciating detail how to set up your child’s Chromebook with Google’s very own parental control system – called Google Family Link, I’m going to give you a late Christmas gift – your very own step-by-step guide built with love (and Google Forms). I’m actually going to tell you how to do it there in excruciating detail instead. No parent left behind, right?
Before you click through to the form at the bottom, let’s go over some important information regarding Family Link. First, if your child doesn’t already have a Google account and for some reason, the device has yet to be set up with a normal Gmail address, then you can simply proceed through the setup process when you boot the Chromebook up. Google has done a fantastic job at adding a prompt into the OOBE or out of box experience that asks if you’re setting the laptop up as a parent or a child. Just choose the latter to get the ball rolling. With that being said, this guide is more so for parents who have already created an unmanaged Gmail address for their children and wish to add in some guardrails to protect them.
Next, so long as your child is under the age of 13, you can use Family Link to manage their Chromebook experience completely. Should you choose to use it to manage your teenager’s experience, they will have the ability to stop supervision at any time. If they do toggle off Family Link, their Chromebook will be locked and unusable, and you’ll receive a notification. Once you confirm that you’re aware of the action taken, you can unlock their device so that they can continue to use it as normal. You’ll still have complete access to their app and website activity among other things by using the Google Family Link app.
Chromebooks that are managed with G Suite for Education or Google Workspace accounts can not be managed with Family Link. You can only use personal, consumer-based Gmail accounts. Also, if you have any supervised accounts added to a Chromebook, you can not add a nonsupervised account to it and if you have any regular accounts on the Chromebook at first, you will not be able to add a supervised account – make sense? This will help keep kids safe and Google to maintain “important product behaviors. For example, if another account was present on the device, then the child could potentially switch to it and perform unprotected actions like downloading non-age appropriate apps without your approval – yikes!
Alright, enough fine print – let’s get this show on the road. Download the ‘Google Family Link for parents’ app to your phone using the link below and then click on the blue button below to see the tutorial. It’s very “hand-holdey”, but I did this intentionally. While many are pretty accustomed to apps and setup processes, not everyone is. I hope that this can serve as a reference for you and others in the future and if you have any questions about this form or about Google Family Link, just let us know in the comments below! I’ll update this article in the near future to go over all of the Family Link settings and secrets, so stay tuned. Your kids deserve to enjoy their new Chromebook, and you deserve to enjoy a worry-free new year.