Many parents these days give their young kids their own smartphones so that, if they’re out and about, they’re still just a call or text away. But at the same time there’s the concern that they may spend too much time on the device or will be too easily exposed to inappropriate content. Today Google has announced a new tool designed with this dilemma in mind: Family Link.

While Android — as well as iOS — already has on-device parental controls, Family Link is a two-party system where an app installed on a parent’s device is used to configure settings and permissions on the child’s device. The system is built on top of the Android device-management framework, taking a page from "Android for Work" but instead using management tools for allowing parents to control approved apps, track kids' physical location, establish "screen time" limits and even a "bedtime" for the device.

Google Family Link also officially allows for the first time the creation of Google accounts for kids under 13. In the US, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) restricts the collection of data on children under 13, requiring parental notification and consent. Prior to Family Link Google complied with this law simply by banning kids under 13 from making an account.

The feature requires both parents and kids have an Android device — the parent’s device requires Android KitKat (4.4) or higher while the kid’s device must be running either Android Nougat (7.0) or Marshmallow (6.1). The app is in a limited testing phase for now, you can request early access here.

Header image credit: Mashable