Microsoft has launched a new Family Safety app with cross-device parental controls. The software giant first announced the development of the app back in March and has been testing it since May. The Microsoft Family Safety app is now available for all Android and iOS users.
Designed to help parents remotely control their children's digital world, this app allows users to set overall screen time limits, set time limits for individual apps, block apps, track location, configure boundaries around web and search, and more.
The Microsoft Family Safety app should work as efficiently as any other competing parental control technology. However, if one's already into the company’s own ecosystem of products and services, such as Windows PCs and Xbox devices, it will work better.
Microsoft Family Safety app
The COVID-19 pandemic has made the world more reliant on screens. Education, work, and entertainment are all digital nowadays. This means children are naturally spending more time on their devices. The Microsoft Family Safety app ensures healthier digital habits of children.
This app allows parents to set limits for overall screen time or for individual apps. Children can ask for an extension if they need additional time. Parents can quickly add 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours, or 3 hours of screen time.
Parents can also block an app completely. This ensures that their children are spending time on the right app and not playing some unwanted games.
Additionally, parents can choose if the time limits are effective daily, or only on weekdays or weekends. They can further configure the time of the day when the time limits are valid. So if you don't want your kids to play a certain game at night but they can play during the daytime on weekends, you can do exactly that.
This app syncs across Windows, Xbox, and Android. So the time limits for apps will sync across all compatible devices in your house. This prevents children from swapping devices once they reach the time limit.
To ensure that your children aren't exposed to inappropriate content on the web, Microsoft has added web and search filters to the app. You can block adult content and set browsing to kid-friendly websites only. This feature works across the Microsoft Edge browser on Windows, Xbox, and Android.
There's also a feature to control app store purchases. If your kid tries to purchase something from the Microsoft Store, you'll get an email request where you can approve or decline the purchase.
The app's built-in location-sharing feature lets users' know their family members' last known location. They can also save favorite locations like a friend's house to see where the kids are.
Last but not least, the Microsoft Family Safety app emails a weekly report to parents and kids highlighting the child’s digital activity for the past seven days.
Additional features rolling out in the coming months
Microsoft says this is just the beginning and that it'll add more features to the Family Safety app in the coming months. The company is already working on two premium features. A "drive safety" feature, which will be available in the US, the UK, Australia, and Canada, will provide insights on driving behavior.
There's also a "location alerts" feature that will notify you when a family member arrives or departs a specific location. These two premium features will be a part of the Microsoft 365 Family Subscription.
You can download the Microsoft Family Safety app on your Android smartphone from the Google Play Store.