Being a parent in this digital age is a tough affair, so plenty of apps aim to help families manage their children’s smartphone usage and online activities. Google’s Family Link, which is available worldwide, is one such example, but as always, there’s a delicate balance between features and restrictions. Duo is one of the latter.
Letting children make video calls is an intricate affair: on the one hand, you want them to be able to chat with relatives and friends, but on the other, you don’t want them to talk to strangers or people you don’t trust. At first, Google completely blocked Duo from working on children’s phones, but now, given the parent’s approval to use the app, kids can use Duo provided it’s connected to their phone number. There isn’t much in terms of protection for children though, and parents have to get access to their kids’ phone to block people they don’t want them to communicate with.
However, children can’t connect Duo with their Google account like we can on our devices. When they try to do so, Duo asks for a G Suite for Education email (not the same as Family Link) and the process stops. The immediate downside to that is that even if kids can use Duo on their phones, they can’t access Duo web, because it requires a linked Google account.
According to a Googler, the company is “actively looking into this,” and I hope it gets implemented soon. But more importantly, I think the Family Link team needs to look into better supervision for Duo on children’s accounts, allowing parents to set a list of approved contacts and screen unknown calls before letting them through.
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