Google created a new sandbox for Android

Recently Google released a new parental control system for Android, named Google Family Link. It works in Android 7 and newer versions.

The program is so deeply integrated into the Android system that it is not possible to remove it even after flashing the phone. The system requires separate Google accounts for parent and child phones.

Both the parent and child phone must have Google Family Link installed. The control program is being configured online through synchronization with the Google account of the childr. When a person under 12 creates a Google account, the Google Family Link service is turned on automatically.

Briefly about the features of the program:

  • Restricts Google Search, Google play Market, Google Chrome by filtering and blocking adult content;
  • Forbids children to install programs;
  • Installs the limit of application time;
  • Provides the current coordinates of the child;
  • A notification about user actions is sent to parents;
  • The child is also informed about what his parents see and what is possible and what is not.

Safe search

After installing and applying the standard settings, the child will not be able to find 18+ information in the Google search engine. And if the child directly tiped the address of the prohibited resource, then the Google browser will request permission from the parent.

 

 

 

How reliable is this filter? Practice shows that you can still get around it if you disable your Google account during the search. To do this, click the Google icon and then on the account icon. In the list that appears, select the option Use without an account.

Now in Google search adult information will also be available. In particular, it will be possible to see 18+ pictures. But you can only open the adult site if you have a browser other than Google Chrome. Therefore, the parent should disable all other browsers except Google Chrome.

Application lock

To do this, run Family Link on the parent’s phone, choose a child (there may be several) and find View all apps.

Opposite the name of the browser, click on the hourglass and select Block.

Application Lock removes the shortcut from the screen and the entry from the list of installed applications. For non-system applications, this means uninstalling.

If the application is allowed again, it will appear on the screen again.

YouTube, like Google Chrome, will also disallow you to watch adult videos.

 

So, this function works stably.

Forbids children to install programs.

When you try to install any program from the Play Market, a request for permission from the parent appears.

Thus, the child will not be able to install a browser or messenger where Google filters do not work. Installing applications from the media also requires permission from the parent.

Application time limit

In order to preserve the health of children, our parents just turned off the TV and sent us out for a walk. In Google Family Link, you can completely block any non-system program, or set it a time limit. In addition, you can set a time limit for using all phone programs except dialer and contacts.

We have already talked about blocking programs, but in order to limit the use of the program to several hours, you need to do the following:

Select a group member (child) and find the View all apps command.

Select the application and click on the hourglass opposite it. Select Set Limit.

You can limit the total time of the application using per day, which will undoubtedly have a beneficial effect on the child’s vision and will teach him discipline. However, here it is impossible to configure , when the child will use this program, at night or in the afternoon.

Time limit for the whole phone

This option allows you to completely prohibit the launch of any program, leaving the ability to use the phone exclusively for calls, incoming and outgoing. To do this, on the parent phone in the Family link program, find the Daily limit group and click the Edit limits link.

For each day of the week, you can limit the total time of the phone’s applications using. The rest of the time it will be just a telephone.

In addition, you can hardly set the time for sleep so the child didn't break the vision at night. Very useful for training daily rhythms.

If it seems to you that the child is abusing the phone, you can remotely lock all programs permanently and unlock them again also by the command from the parent phone.

But there may be a problem. If suddenly the parent phone is lost or unavailable, then the child’s phone will remain a simple dialer. Unlocking from the server is not provided.

Getting the current coordinates of the child.

If the child got lost in the city, in the forest or likes to skip classes, then this option will be very useful. The child’s coordinate is opened as soon as we open his profile in the parent application. If you click on its current location, Google Maps will open with more detailed information.

But this option also has some disadvantages.

First, only the last coordinate of the child’s phone is provided. It is unclear where he was half an hour ago.

Secondly, obtaining the coordinates is possible only if the child’s phone is online. Thus, in the forest or in the city, the child must have mobile data turned on in order you to have the coordinate. Usually, children “eat up” all mobile traffic, watching videos on Youtube or playing online games. Often after that his balance goes negative and he cannot even make a call, although he has minutes included in his tariff plan. And if your child does not want you to find him, he only needs to turn off Wi-Fi and mobile traffic and he will become completely inaccessible to you.

Notification for parents about the actions of the child.

Usually the program reports that there is no data for today, and when we click Show history it shows application usage statistics for the last days.

According to these data, we only see how long this or that program was used, but no actions of the child are available. This means you won’t see which videos he watched on Youtube, which sites he visited in Chrome, and what he wrote to friends in the mail and instant messengers.

Informing the child about the tracking and allowed and forbidden opportunities.

The child also sees the Google Family Link icon on the screen. When clicking on it, he sees what actions are allowed and forbidden to him. The list of applications shows blocked applications.

 

In addition, the duration of the possible use of the programs and the sleep schedule are indicated. In fact, the child sees the same information as the parents, only without the ability to change anything.

Let's make some conclusions now.

The advantage of the Google Family Link program is the reliable blocking of unwanted programs and websites. The program is so deeply embedded in Android that you can’t remove it on the latest phones even by resetting it to the factory settings. This creates the perfect sandbox from which the child can not get out.

But children grow up and over time their horizons expand so much that they become cramped in such a sandbox. There is a subconscious desire to break out. It becomes especially offensive to them when their friends' gadgets show what is inaccessible to them. Believe me, that soon the child will have a new device, which he never give to his parents.

But back to the Family Link program. By showing how much time a child spent in programs, the tracking agent does not show the history of visited websites, search and movies viewed on Youtube. To see all of this, the parent must have either another phone or a separate browser on the computer where he could use the child’s gmail and see his story. This is inconvenient, isn't it?

With such a large set of tools, Google developers did not care about keylogging, that is, about collecting the text typed by the child. It would be very interesting to see what our child writes to his interlocutors.

What about Social networks?. They are so firmly entrenched in our lives that it is already difficult to imagine a child who does not have a Facebook or Snapchat account.

And what about Family Link? - Nothing. We just see that the child launched Facebook. No contacts, no screenshots, no correspondence. This is a failure!

Photos and call records. The developers simply say that Family Link doesn't track it. Of course, you can log into your child’s account and see Google Photo, but by default the synchronization is disabled.

The SMS and calls log is what Google developers left to the private developers.

Let's list the other strengths and weaknesses of Google Family Link:

Advantages:

  • There are standard Family settings, which speeds up the process of setting options;
  • Reliable blocking of adult content in Google Chrome and YouTube;
  • In the case of a real need to view the 16+ resource, it is possible to ask the parent for permission;
  • It is possible to create a whitelist of addresses that a child can visit in Google Chrome;
  • Reliable protection at the system level from installing new programs. If necessary, they can install anything with the permission of the parent;
  • Installing applications from the drive is also possible only with permission from the parent;
  • The ability to disallow purchases or downloads on Google Play without parental permission.
Disadvantages:

 

  • A long procedure for setting up and linking accounts, so you cannot immediately give the device to the child;
  • All applications require updates to work correctly with Google Family Link;
  • On the child’s device, both the parent and the child need to log in;
  • There is an icon on the child’s phone screen;
  • A lot of information is advertised for the child (what your parents see);
  • It is necessary to synchronize all Google services to update the settings;
  • YouTube is not available to children in many countries;
  • Shows only the current coordinate of the child;
  • Does not show screenshots, photos, detailed web-surfing, typing, what kind of films the child saw on YouTube;
  • Viewing the history is possible only if the parent logged in to the child’s gmail on another device (clearing the history and private mode is not available to the child), but the child can turn off synchronization;
  • You can disable search protection if you work without an account: in the search, click on the icon and choose to work without an account, and the search program itself cannot be disabled by the parent.
  • You can view the result and configure the restrictions only from your mobile device.

Comparison chart of the features of the Google Family Link app and the KidLogger parental control program:


Features

Google Family Link

KidLogger

List and duration of App using

+

+

Ability to block applications

+

+

Web-surfing

-

+

Youtube History

-

+

Web search History

-

+

Web filter

+

-

Ban of installing new programs

+

-

time limit for each app

+

+

time limit for all apps

+

+

No need to configure built-in power-saving programs

+

-

Removal Protection

+

+

Phone call recording

-

+

Record SMS and messages in social networks

-

+

Recording photos taken by the camera

-

+

Management from the server

-

+

Screenshots and messages in social networks

-

+

Coordinate history

-

+

Getting the current coordinate offline

-

+

Getting the current coordinate online

+

+

Recording ambient sounds

-

+

Keylogging (typing)

-

+

hidden monitoring

-

+

In total, we get 14 functions that KidLogger has and Family Link doesn't and 3 functions that Family Link has and which are not in KidLogger.

Parents have to choose what to install: a sandbox from where a child cannot get out, but where the child is also not visible, or a real monitoring tool that can also limit the child’s activity over time.

Here you can find tutorials, articles and announcements about KidLogger SAS: what new features we’ve implemented, how to install Kidlogger, and how to set up user monitoring for different platforms like Windows, Mac, Android, Symbian, BlackBerry and iOS.

We’re happy to hear any suggestions you might have about improving KidLogger.

Compare Parental Controls in Windows 7, Mac and Kidlogger.net

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