Windows Phone 8, Family Safety, and your kids

By | August 22, 2014

Amazon recently had a sale on the Lumia 520 “GoPhone” from AT&T. It was down to only $40 out the door, and I also had $10 in Amazon gift card credit in my account. So why not. Free shipping, to my door, and I have a new test device for my Windows Phone app development.

One thing I also wanted to see with this phone, though, was just what Microsoft’s Family Safety brings to the table on the WP platform. I have been using FS on my kids’ desktop and tablet accounts for years, but hadn’t yet checked out what MS offers on WP. Let’s dive in.

I first noticed this possibility when looking at my windowsphone.com account and hovering over my profile in the upper right. “My Family? What’s this do?” I wondered. For the longest time I was the only one in my house who owned a Windows Phone, then my wife got one but of course she doesn’t need/want any controls/lockdown being done on hers. So this 520 was the perfect chance to experiment.

When booting the 520 from scratch, I first had to put in the Microsoft Account ID (e-mail address) of one of my sons – in this case Corbin, my oldest.

After doing this setup on the phone goes exactly like every other time you’ve set one up, but now:

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Corbin has some new options in my WindowsPhone.com portal My Family area. Most notably, we have to accept the Terms of Use on his account in order to activate Family Safety’s controls:

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After doing this his “tile” on the Family Safety page turns to:

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Of course, let’s View settings

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The game rating filter for WP comes from my overall FamilySafety settings which I have set for games for Corbin. Looks like w/ WP the only options we get are to enable/disable buying games, getting only free ones, or not allowing any at all. What does a denial look like?

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denied store purchase

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denied in-app purchase

How about Cortana?

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I went to Windowsphone.com in hopes that I’d be able to find apps and install them to the phone via the site as a way of “pushing” only the apps I want my kids to have on to their devices, should I choose “don’t allow” in the options above. Unfortunately there was no such possibility. So this doesn’t really serve as a “poor man’s MDM solution” a la enterprise. But nonetheless it is pretty nice to have. You can configure some additional settings through the family safety website:

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If you haven’t used Microsoft’s Family Safety tools, I highly suggest looking in to them for Windows 7 and Windows 8 users, and now of course Windows Phone users. They’re free and might very well fit the bill you’re looking for when wanting to monitor/safeguard your kids’ online and computer access!

  • Jimbo Barstool

    Except this isn’t family safety. Parental controls should include ability to prevent web access to inappropriate sites or at least let you disable the browser (like every other smart phone OS). Microsoft have dropped the ball with family safety on windows phone 8 and 8.1. Effectively their phones are not suitable for children.