How To Set Up Android Lollipop 5.0 Parental Controls

Android is the mobile operating system from Google, and it powers smartphones and tablets. Though there isn’t a specific set of parental controls you can use, there are some things you can do to protect your child while they are using are the device.

These instructions apply to Android Lollipop, which is version 5.0 - 5.1.1. This is an older version of Android, as it was released November 12, 2014.

How To Set Up Google Family Link

Google Family Link is an app that allows parents to view their child’s smartphone activity, manage the apps they can use and download, set screen time limits, lock their device, and even track their location.

Family Link does not block inappropriate content, but some apps have their own filtering options. Google apps, such as Search and Chrome, have filtering options that you can find in Family Link. For parents of teens 13 and older, Restricted Mode on YouTube is an optional setting that can be used to help filter out mature content. However, Google notes that these filters are not perfect, so explicit, graphic, or other content you may not want your child to see makes it through sometimes.

Kids and teens that use Android devices running version 7.0 or higher can use Family Link. Some devices running Android versions 5.0 and 6.0 may be able to run Family Link. Parents can use Family Link on any Android devices running versions 4.4 and higher as well as iPhones running iOS9 and higher.

Family Link also runs on Chromebook. With the Family Link app, you can choose what websites your child can access using Chrome, supervise your child’s app usage, and more. Family Link can be used with Chromebooks running Chrome OS versions 71 or higher.

Click here to learn how to set up Google Family Link.

Find Your Device’s Version of Android

To ensure that you’re following the right set of directions, you’ll first want to check the version of Android your device is running. If it’s not current, you may have the option to update. It’s best to update whenever possible to ensure you have access to all the latest features.

  1. From the home screen, press the Settings button.
  2. Scroll down and select About Phone.
  3. Scroll down to Android Version. The number under this heading is the version of Android running on your device (i.e. 5.0).

Set a Passcode on Your Device

Setting a passcode is important — it ensures that if the device is lost, it won’t be usable by anyone who doesn’t know the passcode. Remind your child not to share their passcode with anyone else, and make sure it’s not the same passcode you’ll be using for your parental controls.

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Tap Lock Screen And Security.
  3. Tap Screen Lock Type.
  4. Tap Set Up a Passcode.
  5. Select a 4-digit PIN.
  6. Re-enter the PIN to confirm it.
  7. Go through additional security settings, if desired, for further protection.

Set Up Parental Controls for Apps

  1. Open the Google Play Store.
  2. Tap the three horizontal bars in the upper-left corner to open the Menu.
  3. Tap Settings.
  4. Under User Controls, turn on Parental Controls and follow the prompts.
  5. Set a parental control PIN for each Google Play account.
  6. Open the Google Play Store menu again.
  7. Tap My Apps & Games.
  8. Tap Installed.
  9. Delete any apps that are outside of the ratings you want for your child.
  10. Go back to Settings and then Parental Controls in order to set content restrictions for any future apps.
  11. Tap on each type of content and make rating decisions based on what’s appropriate for your child. Note that not all apps have age ratings, so be sure to also talk to your child about the types of content you allow.
  12. Go back to Settings in the Google Play Store.
  13. Turn on Require Authentication for Purchases to prevent in-app purchases.

Other ways to prevent app downloads

The Google Play Store isn’t the only place to browse for apps, so here’s a way to prevent your child from downloading apps from unknown sources: 

  1. On the Home screen of the device, go to Settings.
  2. Tap Lock Screen and Security.
  3. Toggle Unknown Sources to gray, which means apps and content can be downloaded only from the Google Play Store.

Create a Restricted Profile

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Tap Users (If you don’t see this, tap the General tab first).
  3. Tap Add User and tap OK to confirm.
  4. Tap Set Up Now.
  5. Follow the prompts to choose the content you want to be accessible to your child.

Managing Data Usage

Limit data usage to Wi-Fi

If your child’s device includes a data package but you want to restrict them to only going online when there’s Wi-Fi, here’s how to update their mobile data settings:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Tap Data Usage.
  3. Toggle Mobile Data to OFF.
  4. Tap OK.

Cap your child’s data usage

If you want to give your older children more responsibility, you can choose to limit their data usage — rather than completely disabling it. Here’s how:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Tap Data Usage.
  3. Tap Mobile Data Usage.
  4. Tap the Settings icon at the top right-hand corner.
  5. Toggle the Limit Mobile Data Usage to ON.
  6. Tap OK.
  7. Set the usage to whatever you believe is best for your child.

Set up data usage alerts

To help your children stay within their data limits, you can set up alerts to let them know how much they’ve used — and when they’re about to go over.

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Tap Data Usage.
  3. Toggle Alert Me About Data Usage to ON.
  4. Tap OK.
  5. Tap Alert Me About Data Usage.
  6. Tap the Settings gear at the top right-hand corner.
  7. Tap Data Usage Warning.
  8. Enter the limit you feel is appropriate for your child.


How to Monitor Content

In addition to setting parental controls on your child's device, the next safety layer parents and caregivers should strongly consider is a monitoring solution to assess the content their kids encounter (and produce) across text messages, social media, and email. Bark can do this for you. On Android devices, Bark can monitor text messages (including deleted ones!), photos, videos, web browsing (including Incognito on the Chrome browser/app!), and many installed apps, including Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok (formerly Musical.ly), WhatsApp, and Kik. Bark also monitors your child's Android device location with check-ins. If you'd like to see a detailed list of everything Bark can monitor, click here.

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