It was three years ago when Microsoft introduced Kids Zone in Windows Phone 8, but since then we have not heard the Redmond based company promote much else about family features in Windows mobile, or Windows for desktops for that matter. That being said, Microsoft offers a slew of family featuers that allow parents to customize their children's Windows experience based on the child's age. This is set up through Microsoft's Family Safety page and is linked directly through to the child's Microsoft account (the one in which parents will want to set up for their children might I add). With Windows 10, Microsoft is looking to lend a hand to the busy parents of the world, updating their Family Safety features for both PC's and mobile devices.
Through the Family Safety site, parents can set screen time, limiting the amount of time their children use a Windows-based device, and with the latest update, parents can now add screen time extensions, giving their children 15 minutes to 8 hours more allowances on their PC or tablets. These screen-time settings are automatically set for children under 8 years of ago and can be manually applied to an older child's account as well.
Through the Family Safety webpage, parents now have a one-stop-shop for customizing a child's web experience. These restrictions and limits work with both Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge and apply to both Windows 10 PCs and Windows 10 Mobile devices. Microsoft has changed their policy on browsers, and now only supports Internet Explorer and Edge, a change explained on Family Safety's FAQ page:
Going forward, web browsing limits and web browsing activity reporting will now only apply to Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer. Until now, our family settings have worked on other browsers, but the companies that provide those browsers frequently make changes, which can break the technology we created for their last version. Since we don't know about those changes before they happen, we can't fix those breaks fast enough to keep kids protected. Therefore, we will focus on making family settings work seamlessly for Microsoft products and services, including Microsoft’s web browsers, Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer. We still provide web browsing limits on Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer, and will only report web browsing activity from those browsers. We’ve extended that protection to Windows 10 mobile devices, too. To keep your kids from using browsers not supported by Family, choose Block where you see those browsers in each child’s Recent activity.
For children setting up a Windows 10 Mobile device, all previous settings for their account will carry over to their new phone. This will include parent access to any recent activity on their device, web browsing limits and blocks, limits on media including games, music, and movies, as well as "Find your child" feature that allows parents to locate their children via GPS.
Microsoft has even made it easier and safer for kids to browse the Windows Store. Parents now have the option of providing their children with money without adding their own credit card to the child's account. Parents also no longer have to worry about the content from within the Windows store. Kid-friendly store browsing will only display age appropriate content from within the Windows Store in addition to notifying parents of all recent purchase made.
As a parent to a 7 year old who wants a Windows Mobile device like her dad, these family features make the idea of placing a phone into her hands a little less terrifying. Whether or not she is ready for a device is another story altogether, but it is nice to know Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile will make that decision much safer. If you have any children using Windows 10, let us know if you these updates to Microsoft's Family Safety features are right for you.