Google follows Apple and launches its own Family Sharing

family sharingMost parents do not allow their children to run out the door without telling them where they are going. In the same way, children should not be running around online without parents knowing where they are. Not every app or website is suitable for kids. By using filters and parental controls, parents can allow their kids to explore the internet while staying in age appropriate areas.

With Android devices, creating a child safe space is a challenge. Parents can set the built-in parental controls but controls on Android are not a one-stop shop. Parents will need to change settings on the device, in the browser and within an app. Setting up all these different controls is cumbersome.

Apple has taken a different approach. With an Apple account, parents can oversee their child’s device through Apple’s Family Sharing. With Family Sharing, parents can oversee downloads as well as review other content. BeWebSmart has an excellent article about Family Sharing for Apple parents.

Google launches Family Sharing

This week, Google is rolling out its own version of Family Sharing. With this new feature, families will be able to share content such as movies, books and apps. All purchases added to Family Library are available across Android devices, and movies, TV shows, and books can be watched on iOS devices and the web for free. While Google’s Family Sharing does not appear to offer the robust controls of Apple, it does allow parents to review kid’s purchases.

With Google’s Family Sharing, up to 6 family members can share purchases through GooglePlay. To set up, a parent creates a family account with a credit card then invites up to 5 family members to join.  Once set up, a family can share purchases using separate Google accounts. Family members can also choose what content to add or automatically add purchases to their family library. All family members ages 13-17 will need to get approval for all their purchases including in-app purchases.

What do you think of Family Sharing?

Family Sharing has not appeared on my phone – yet. After hearing Apple families gush about Family Sharing, I am looking forward to setting it up. I hope that Google mimics Apple further, with additional device management for families.

For instance, Apple families have the “Ask to Buy” feature. Although it says Buy, Apple actually allows parents to approve both purchased and free downloads. After reading about Google’s Family Sharing, it appears Google is only allowing parents to approve purchases not free downloads.

Within GooglePlay, parents can restrict free downloads based on content rating. Especially for kids ages 12-17 restricting based on content rating leads to either restricting too much or too little. With our family, I am constantly changing the settings to allow specific apps. Being able to approve each download whether free or purchased would be helpful for families.

Striking the balance between keeping kids safe and allowing them to explore is a challenge for families. I hope that the launch of Google’s Family sharing leads to more support for parents and kids. In the meantime, for setting up parental controls on Android devices check out the links below. If you are an Android family, let us know how Google’s Family Sharing is working for your family.