Microsoft The new screen time and parental control app, Microsoft Family Safety, is released publicly on iOS and Android today after previewing the experiences that came earlier this spring. The app is designed to help parents understand children’s use of screen time, set limits and create screen schedules, configure limits for web access, and, among other things, track the location of family members.
The app competes with other parental control technologies, including those built into iOS and Android. The latter is also available as a standalone app called Family Link. Microsoft Family Safety, like its competitors, is best suited for those who have already bought into the company̵
As with many screen time apps, Family Safety displays an activity log of how screen time is used by children. It can track hours on devices like Windows computers, phones, and Xbox, as well as websites and apps. It can also display the terms children search for online.
A weekly report is emailed to parents and children with the hope of stimulating discussion about healthy use of screen time. This was a complex issue even before the pandemic. But now that kids go to school at home and fill the summer break with hours of games while the parents are still trying to work without childcare, things get even more complicated.
In the beginning, the parents may have just given up all the time on the screen, thankful for everything that has allowed them to give them moments of peace. But as staying at home becomes a new normal, many families are now rethinking how much screen time is healthy and how much is too much.
With the new app, parents can set screen time limits that apply to all devices – including Xbox. These thresholds can be configured closely to provide access to learning apps that facilitate online learning while limiting other types of screen time, e.g. B. Games. When the children run out of time, they can ask for more and the parents can decide whether to grant it or not.
Meanwhile, the web filtering aspects of the new app use the newer browser from Microsoft, Microsoft Edge for Windows, Xbox and Android. With the app, parents can set search filters and block mature content. Other content controls notify parents when the child tries to download a mature game or app from the Microsoft Store.
Parents can also control purchases by agreeing to children’s requests, so there are no surprise bills later.
Thanks to the app’s built-in location sharing, families can skip downloading additional family location apps like Life360 to access basic location tracking features, such as: B. Those with which family members are shown on a map and with which you can save preferred locations such as “home”. ”
Since the preview period, Microsoft has added a handful of new features to the app’s features, including one that lets you block and unlock certain apps, a location cluster feature, and an expanded set of options to give more screen time (e.g., 15 or 30 minutes, 1, 2 or 3 hours, etc.). Accessibility features have also been updated and improved, including improved visual contrast for visually impaired users and additional context for screen readers.
However, you will find that some Family Safety experiences do not fully extend to iOS and Android, such as: B. Purchase controls and web filtering. On iOS, the app can’t even track screen time usage, as Apple doesn’t provide an API for it, even after starting its own screen time service and shutting down competing apps.
This is because other platforms have locked their own operating systems and ecosystems to encourage customers to buy and use only their devices. Unfortunately, this means that families with devices from different vendors – such as iPhone users who also play on Xbox or Android users whose computer is a Mac, for example – don’t have easy tools to manage everything from one place.
Microsoft announces that it will shortly launch two new Family Safety features after its launch. This includes location warnings and driving safety (e.g. young drivers). You are part of a paid Microsoft 365 family subscription.
The new Family Safety app is now being launched as a free download for iOS and Android. You may not be able to access the app right away due to the gradual rollout, but should do so sometime this week.