Andrew Couldridge / reuters
With all the smart tech inside our homes, kids are increasingly encountering connected devices from a younger age. Even before a child gets their first smartphone, they may have spoken to Alexa or prodded a Nest Hub. To give exasperated parents a helping hand with tech teachings, Google is launching additional tools on its Families website on how to nurture a healthy and protected online environment for children.
They include illustrated guides on how to approach a child's interactions with tech from trustworthy organizations like Common Sense Media, ConnectSafely, Family Online Safety Institute, Headspace, PBS KIDS and Sesame Workshop.
It also gives Google a chance to showcase its own products aimed at kids and families, which the company has been bolstering with dedicated safety features and children's accounts. Additional resources include info on the latest apps and services for kids, info on setting up parental controls across the web, tips on managing digital wellbeing and educational tools for the classroom.
The site builds on Google search insights and the findings of a survey of more than 2,000 parents of kids aged under 13 in the US. According to the study, two in five parents said they don’t feel confident talking about different tech-related topics with their kids. Meanwhile, the pandemic saw searches hit an all time high for “how to homeschool." "kids mindfulness" and "fun at home activities for kids" as people sought ways to keep children occupied indoors.
Alongside the new portal, Google is also updating its Family Link parental controls with requested features including the ability to remove screen time caps for favored apps, which you can now set to remain "always allowed." Activity reports will also come with extra details that track how your child is spending time in apps over a week or month, and how much of that time is spent in your "always allowed" apps. Android users, meanwhile, can now view app suggestions from the Google Play Store's large catalog of teacher-approved services, see a child-designated device's battery life and set screen time limits from a kid's device.
In addition, Google's family-oriented announcements also include a new weekly YouTube series called HeadSpace Breathers. The show, a collaboration with guided meditation platform Headspace, debuts next month and is designed to help families to wind down by practicing mindfulness and wellbeing.
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