Microsoft Family Safety Overview

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Most trendy parental control software focuses on cellular units, however desktop monitoring is essential too. Microsoft Family Safety is right for folks searching for assist with net filtering, display screen time restrictions, and app monitoring on Windows computer systems. Microsoft Family Safety is out there for cellular platforms too; it presents well-functioning location options, however net filtering and device-level display screen time restrictions for monitored Android units do not work. For iOS, the placement options operate nicely, however app blocking and net filtering are usually not obtainable on that platform. The software program additionally lacks social media monitoring of any type, making it a less-than-ideal choose for many mother and father. 

How Much Does Microsoft Family Safety Cost?

Microsoft Family Safety is free and consists of location monitoring, net filtering, app blocking, and utilization scheduling for as much as six relations beneath a single account login. Alternatively, you may subscribe to Microsoft 365 Family for $99 per yr. That subscription is the multi-user model of Microsoft 365 Personal and provides as much as six customers entry to all Microsoft’s Office apps, plus 1TB of OneDrive storage every. In phrases of parental management options, a Microsoft 365 Family subscription unlocks location alerts (Microsoft’s model of geofencing), Drive Safety reviews, and Drive History. If you already subscribe to Microsoft 365 Family, then these extras are a superb bonus, however I would not suggest paying that price solely for these options.

Microsoft Family Safety is most just like Google Family Link and Apple’s Screen Time options. For extra, you may try our in-depth comparison of those three services. Norton Family is dearer ($49.99 per yr) than Microsoft Family Safety and covers an infinite variety of units. Kaspersky Safe Kids costs solely $14.99 per yr and helps an infinite variety of youngster units. Editors’ Choice choose Qustodio organizes its paid subscription plans by household dimension, with Small (5 units), Medium (10 units), and Large (15 units) selections. These plans price $54.95, $96.95, and $137.95 per yr, respectively. Two-part {hardware} and software program answer Circle Home Plus is dearer; the system prices $129 and features a one-year premium membership, however after that, you must pay $9.99 per 30 days to take care of the service on an infinite variety of units.

Microsoft Family Safety runs on Android, Apple, Windows, and Xbox units. You cannot monitor macOS computer systems with Family Safety, however mother and father can entry the net dashboard and make adjustments to the principles from their Macs. Web filtering, app blocking, and display screen time scheduling don’t work on iOS units. To take a look at Microsoft Family Safety’s Windows capabilities, we used a desktop PC operating Windows 10. For evaluating the app on cellular, we used a Samsung A71 5G operating Android 11, an iPhone XS operating iOS 14.7, and an iPhone 12 Mini operating iOS 14.7.

Setup and Devices

You want to ask every individual you need to monitor to be part of your on-line household. Use an electronic mail handle, telephone quantity, or create an Outlook account for every member. Once every member of the family (as much as 6 folks) accepts the invitation, you may activate exercise reporting and net filtering for his or her units, set display screen deadlines, monitor their location, and observe their driving habits. All the restrictions positioned upon a member of the family’s exercise present up on their dashboard on the Microsoft Family Safety app or web site, including a layer of transparency to the monitoring course of. Norton Family’s House Rules part presents an analogous stage of transparency.

The Microsoft Family Safety app is out there on the Google Play Store; each mother and father and youngsters use the identical app. You must grant numerous permissions on Android, together with apps with utilization entry and accessibility entry, a course of that requires bodily entry to the cellular system. This is an opportunity so that you can arrange your kid’s telephone or laptop with their assist and clarify why you might be putting restrictions on it. 

Make certain to lock down the Android settings with a password and disable the Guest account on the telephone. Otherwise, youngsters can defeat parental controls by utilizing the Guest account.

For iOS monitoring, you must obtain the Microsoft Family Safety app from the App Store. Change your location settings to Always Allow, and then you definitely’re able to go. Because the first operate of the iOS app is location monitoring, it does not require an MDM profile to work, not like many different parental management packages.

For Windows 10 units, you must make a separate login for the monitored youngster on the pc. Add the kid to your loved ones by clicking the plus signal beside your avatar on the dashboard. Enter the kid’s electronic mail handle and specify that they’re a member of the household. Family Safety then sends an electronic mail invitation for them to hitch the household. Once the kid logs in on their account and clicks the hyperlink of their inbox, desktop alerts inform the kid that monitoring is energetic. Make certain your youngster just isn’t an admin on Windows, or they’ll nonetheless be capable to set up apps with out restrictions.

Web Interface

The Microsoft Family Safety dashboard is shiny, white, and spacious, with cheerful graphics and inexperienced accents. All the weather are constant, and the group is great. 

Navigate the interface utilizing the textual content choices on the left-hand menu: Overview, Screen Time, Content Filters, Spending, and Find Your Child. At the underside of the dashboard, there’s a part known as Help with Microsoft household options that directs you to Help pages for duties like setting display screen deadlines and setting app and sport limits. At the highest of the display screen, you may entry your Microsoft Account Info, Privacy, Security, Rewards, Payment & Billing, Devices, and Family. The Privacy part permits you to handle your exercise reporting and opt-out of knowledge sharing with Microsoft. On the Security web page, you may allow two-factor authentication to your account.

As with Qustodio, you must specify a reputation, beginning yr, and avatar to your youngster if you add them to your Microsoft Family Safety. When you enter an electronic mail handle or create an Outlook account for every member of the family, all that data is required and populates the profile mechanically. If your youngster is beneath 13 years outdated, Microsoft Family Safety is not going to permit them to arrange their profile. The guardian might want to sign up and provides their consent to permit the kid to make a profile on the app. 

To change restrictions for a kid, navigate to the Family part, and click on More choices beneath the Child’s identify. You navigate this space with six menu objects: Screen Time, Content filters, Spending, Find [Child] on a map, Xbox on-line settings, and Remove from the household group. You can click on into most of those sections to see extra entries. From the Overview web page, you may filter the information to point out the final day or the previous seven days. The Overview dashboard is interactive too, so, for instance, you may block or permit apps proper from this display screen. 

Web dashboard for Microsoft Family Safety

Web Filtering

Microsoft Family Safety’s net filtering solely works with the Microsoft Edge browser. Many frequent and unusual browsers are blocked by default on youngster profiles for each cellular and desktops, together with Chrome, UC Browser, Opera, Firefox, Brave, and DuckDuckGo Browser. Check out our list of alternative web browsers and add them to your block listing. You may also block and permit particular net addresses from the dashboard. Unlike Qustodio and Norton Family, Microsoft Family Safety doesn’t listing the classes of internet sites it blocks by default. Net Nanny permits you to limit websites by key phrases.

While testing Family Safety’s net filtering on Android utilizing the Edge browser, I visited numerous web sites about weapons, a generally blocked class, with none restrictions in any respect. After looking mature web sites freely for a number of minutes, I checked to see if the exercise was being monitored by the app, and not one of the web sites I visited confirmed up on the dashboard, which is unacceptable. When I reached out to an organization consultant about this flaw, they stated, “The team is investigating but have not heard or encountered this problem.” I’ve not heard something additional on the time of publishing.

Web filtering works higher on Windows 10. Family Safety blocked me from visiting some websites with mature content material, however I used to be nonetheless in a position to navigate to websites like weapons.com, that are often prohibited by parental management software program. You can limit entry to all web sites by blocking the Microsoft Edge browser app.

Time Usage Limits

Screen deadlines in Microsoft Family Safety let you set a cap on system utilization for every day of the week. You can set one schedule throughout all units or set limits for particular person units. In testing, I gave my fictional youngster a restrict of quarter-hour of display screen time per day on their Android system. When the time was up, nothing occurred. I may nonetheless use each app as per regular. Qustodio locks down the system when the allotted display screen time expires. 

Determined to make the display screen time restriction function work on Android, I navigated to the Apps and Games part of the net dashboard. Here, you may set a restrict on an app-by-app foundation in case your youngster tends to make use of one or two apps rather more than others. I set a restrict of quarter-hour on Instagram and that restrict labored as anticipated; I used to be unable to open Instagram with out parental permission after hitting that point restrict. Locategy and Qustodio additionally allow you to set deadlines for particular person apps.

The workaround I described above just isn’t perfect, and after I requested a Microsoft consultant concerning the display screen time limiting problem with Android, they stated, “Screen time limits work on apps and games on Windows, Xbox, and Android, and device limits work on Xbox and Windows.” Microsoft is mainly saying right here that system limits do not work on Android, in order that’s why my assessments didn’t work.

On Windows 10, the system display screen deadlines work as anticipated. I set a time restrict of quarter-hour for my fictional youngster, and after minutes ticked away, a “Time’s Up!” notification popped up, and the pc locked. 

App Blocking

For app blocking on Android and Windows units, navigate to the App and Games part inside the Content Filters and Screen Time tabs. Here, you identify the age score of latest apps your youngster downloads from the Microsoft Store and Play Store, in addition to block apps which are already put in on the system.

For any app entry on the listing, you may set a time restrict for the app (as talked about) or simply block it fully. I had no points blocking apps on our Windows and Android take a look at units. There’s additionally an app whitelist, for apps mother and father have accepted up to now. When a toddler tries to entry a blocked app, a pop-up window directs them to ask for permission to entry the app in query. Parents grant or deny requests from the net dashboard or the Android and iOS apps.  

In testing, app blocking labored as anticipated on Windows 10. The performance for Android labored nicely, apart from filtering apps primarily based on age score. I used to be in a position to obtain and set up Snapchat, which had a Teen score on the Google Play Store, on a telephone configured to permit solely app downloads applicable for an 8-year-old.

Speaking of social media, Microsoft Family Safety doesn’t monitor or filter social media posts of any type. Qustodio and Kaspersky Safe Kids each monitor youngster exercise on YouTube and permit mother and father to see searches and viewing historical past. In the long run, I hope to see some sort of social media monitoring from Microsoft Family Safety.

Location Tracking

Location monitoring solely works with the Microsoft Family Safety app for Android and iOS units (not Windows units). From the net, you can’t monitor location monitoring. You are directed to obtain the cellular app to see the place your loved ones members’ areas.

On the Android app, faucet the Maps tab to get to the Location Monitoring part. From the Settings menu, a toddler can select in the event that they need to share their location with the remainder of the household. 

Microsoft Family Safety Location Sharing on Android

There can also be a bit known as Arrives and Departs, which is Microsoft Family Safety’s model of geofencing. This is proscribed to Microsoft 365 Family subscribers. Geofencing defines a digital boundary round a geographic place. With Arrives and Departs, you select whether or not to obtain alerts when a household arrives or departs from a chosen handle. This is useful when ensuring your youngster is in class all day and goes dwelling instantly afterward.

The dimension of the boundary just isn’t disclosed by Microsoft, however I acquired a Departure alert after I traveled a few mile away from my dwelling (as soon as I specified my handle as a location).

Boomerang helps geofencing on Android units, and with it, you may draw customized boundaries round a location. Kaspersky Safe Kids permits you to arrange a schedule for when your youngster ought to stay inside the geofence. Locategy tracks your youngster all through the day with a collection of dots on a map, so you may see their path to and from college, for instance. 

Drive Safely with Drive Safety

A singular function for Microsoft Family Safety is Drive Safety, which can also be restricted to Microsoft 365 Family customers. I have not seen this function in any of the opposite parental management software program options I’ve reviewed. The monitored teen has to show the function on themselves and select whether or not to let the household group see the place they’re going and whether or not they’re braking arduous or accelerating rapidly whereas they drive. The Drive Safety function may assist mother and father of latest drivers, offering peace of thoughts whereas their teen roams the roads, although some might discover it invasive.

Microsoft 365 Family Drive Safety feature

To take a look at this function, I took my Samsung A71 5G on a automobile journey just a few miles away from my dwelling. The telephone was within the passenger seat throughout the journey. According to the app, on the two.3-mile journey, I bought as much as 42 mph and accelerated quickly twice, with no arduous braking and no telephone utilization. I’ve been accused of getting a lead foot earlier than, so this is not stunning, however it does appear to be the app could be very delicate to motion. The app’s map reveals dots the place the fast acceleration occurred.

Microsoft Family Safety on Mobile

Microsoft Family Safety is the app identify to search for within the Google Play Store and App Store. The Android app is white with inexperienced accents. On Android, the app is well-organized and practical. With an organizer account (guardian account) you may view your loved ones on the default display screen and arrange one other consumer profile with the button on the backside of the web page. You can not delete relations or their units from the app. Instead, you must use Family Safety’s net dashboard to take action.

When you faucet a member of the family’s identify or avatar, the app takes you to their profile web page, which reveals their display screen time, drive security, and content material filter exercise from in the present day or the final seven days. The gear icon within the prime proper nook of the display screen takes you to a web page the place you may toggle on and off the exercise reporting, app and sport limits, net and search filter, and age filter for every member of the family. Location options are up subsequent. The Share Your Location and Drive Safety options are each managed by every member of the family independently, so you can’t toggle them on and off, at the same time as an organizer. I feel this is a superb alternative as a result of it provides the monitored individual some sense of management.

The Microsoft Family Safety app for iOS is analogous in look and performance. The iOS app tracks location knowledge for Apple and Android units. You may also set deadlines and block apps for Android units from the iOS app. Additionally, you may view youngster knowledge comparable to display screen time, drive security, and content material filters for every monitored youngster.

Apple’s free built-in parental management operate known as Screen Time is a greater choice for Apple system customers as a result of it has display screen time monitoring, app blocking, and net filtering capabilities for iOS and macOS units. It’s finest to skip the paid apps in case your youngsters have Apple units.

Surface-Level Parental Control

Microsoft Family Safety is a parental management choice finest fitted to small households with youngsters who use Windows computer systems. Web filtering didn’t work on Android telephones in testing and the app additionally doesn’t try to observe any social media platforms. The distinctive Drive Safety function and placement monitoring capabilities are efficient however could possibly be improved by permitting for geofencing customizations.

Qustodio continues to be our Editors’ Choice winner for the parental management software program class due to its simplicity and effectiveness. That service presents sturdy time restrictions, geofencing instruments, and app-blocking on each net and cellular platforms.

Pros

  • Attractive net dashboard and app design

  • Effective web-blocking, app-blocking, and scheduling on Windows

  • Monitors driving habits for premium accounts

  • Precise location monitoring

View More

Cons

  • Web filtering and monitoring on Android apps just isn’t efficient in testing

  • Device-level display screen time restrictions on Android doesn’t work

  • No social media monitoring

The Bottom Line

This free parental management answer has slick-looking net and app design, however its drawbacks embrace restricted performance for cellular customers and a scarcity of social media monitoring instruments.

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This web page was created programmatically, to learn the article in its unique location you may go to the hyperlink bellow:
https://www.pcmag.com/reviews/microsoft-family-safety
and if you wish to take away this text from our website please contact us

Kim Key

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