Google today is expanding the capabilities of its Android parental control software, Family Link, to go beyond helping parents better manage their child’s device and app usage. Now, the Family Link app will also help parents learn about what apps they may want to install for their kids, as well. In a new discovery section, Family Link will feature a list of educational apps for children ages six through nine that parents can install with a tap.
The apps are “recommended by teachers,” the section proclaims.
Google explains that it worked with teachers from across the U.S. to come up with this curated list of apps with educational value. The teachers were recruited to rate content based on their expertise in learning and child development, and had a diverse background in terms of things like years of experience, demographics, and locations in the U.S.
The apps must also meet Google’s Designed for Families (DFF) program requirements.
At launch, the recommended apps come from publishers like MarcoPolo Learning Inc., BrainPOP, Edoki Academy and others, and include those that teach kids about facts and figures, interesting places around the world, and, of course – it’s Google! – the basics of coding, among other things.
There are currently a few dozen recommended apps, but they won’t appear all at once. Instead, Google tells us, the list will refresh on a weekly basis so as not to overwhelm either the parent or child.
Over time, Google plans to add more apps to the feature, including those for other age ranges.
Currently, all the apps are free, but Google may choose to highlight paid apps in the future, a spokesperson says.
Parents can tap on the apps to visit their page on Google Play, and add them directly to their child’s device with a tap on the “Install” button.
The feature is available in the Family Link mobile app for parents in the U.S. for the time being. Google says it will be available in other markets over time.
The recommendations of “nutritious” apps, as Google refers to them in an announcement, comes at a time when major tech companies are paying increased attention to the time spent on devices, and a growing concern among consumers – parents and otherwise – that it’s not time well spent.
At Google’s developer conference in May, the company detailed new Android-based tools for managing and monitoring screen time to promote healthier app and device usage. This includes ways to prevent the phone from distracting or stimulating users, as well as time limits for apps.
These sorts of controls are things parents want for their children, too, which is what Family Link, launched publicly in fall 2017, has provided.
But when even “screen time” itself is being seen as a concern, it makes sense that Google would want to showcase some of the apps that provide something of value.
The feature is launching today on Family Link for Android with iOS support to follow.
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