Wow, Google Family Link, you have failed us. You seemed so helpful for a time — a way for parents to control their kids’ usage of Android devices (phones, Chromebooks). It worked so well for years, until it failed, big time.* Worse, it is so hard to remove, in large part because the removal instructions, by which I mean the full instructions, are not online, best I can tell.
I am here to fix that and spare you some misery. I lost several hours of my life to this so you don’t have to.
If you have a child for whom you control her screen time via Family Link on both her phone and Chromebook and you want to be rid of it for good, on all devices, you have to do the all of the following and in order.
- Powerwash the Chromebook. Yup. That’s right. No way around this. (I tried.)
- Remove the Family Link account from your child’s phone. This actually removes her Google account entirely from her phone (which if f***ed up, but there it is). You cannot just delete the app. Do not just delete the app. This does not work. (I tried.)
- Unsupervise your child from the parent app. Yes, you have to do this. You can’t skip this step. Deleting the app does not unsupervise. (I tried.)
- Now go ahead and delete the Family Link app from child and parent devices. You should no longer need it. But you can’t do this deletion until you’ve done all of the above or you will be very sorry. (I tried, and I was.)
- Have your child recreate her personal and/or school accounts on her Chromebook and phone.
It seems like a big headache, but actually it doesn’t take long to do all this. Maybe 10 minutes. The big thing that sucks is that Google has made it next to impossible to figure all this out. They don’t just come out and explain how to do this all in one place. It’s split over several links. It’s almost as if, once they have you tangled in their web of control, they don’t want you to leave. (No, I do not think Apple is better. I hate it more. Been there. Done that. Worse.)
With all of this, you are finally free and clear from the tyrannical oppression of Google Family Link, which as I said, used to be great. Somehow, they screwed it up and it’s just not worth it anymore to me (your mileage may vary).
* Best I can tell, and this is speculative, some update caused Google Family Link to freak out when my child had both personal and school Google accounts on her Chromebook, which, let’s face it, is a very normal thing to need these days. I was getting multiple emails a day about her logging onto a new device (she was not). Annoying.
Contacting Google Family Link via chat, they told me to just uninstall and reinstall the app. Boy was that bad advice. The app could not be reinstalled on my child’s phone because … wait for it … she had both school and personal accounts on the phone (again, a normal thing to need these days). Family Link would make her choose just one (bad). With this, we gave up. We wanted out. It’s not so easy … back to the main thread of the post.