One of the more wonderful, yet seemingly obscure, values for outfitting your entire family with Windows devices (phones, tablets, computers, etc.) is that if you have younger kids, you can use Microsoft's Family settings to monitor and manage ratings and usage for games, the web, and other things. The Internet is not a safe place, particularly for children who have no real discernment of the dangers. So, it's up to parents to set guidelines. But, after the law has been issued and the guidelines have been set, it's difficult to enforce them. Microsoft Family makes it easier, allowing parents to monitor and block web sites and set ratings on games appropriate for the age-level. Additionally, you can set "screen-time" (configure activity curfews and limits), get email reports and alerts on activity, and email appeals for games or websites a monitored child has requested to access.
Over the weekend, I was setting up a new device for one of our kids and wanted to make sure it was configured to be monitored with Family Safety. I jumped out to the web site as I always do and thought – hmmm…that's new. A day later I received a confirmation email from Microsoft detailing what's new and what's coming.
Here's what's available already…
Family Safety has been changed to Microsoft Family.
Microsoft Family is now part of the general Microsoft Account and is located at account.microsoft.com/family
The recent activity page has been redesigned to show the most relevant information front and center.
Setting websites restrictions is now simpler. When restrictions are turned on, all adult content is blocked. You can still allow or block individual websites, of course.
Managing app & game restrictions is now more intuitive. Set your child’s age so they’ll only be able to acquire apps & games that are rated as appropriate for their age. You can also block individual apps or games.
Managing child accounts has changed. The feature that allowed you to link accounts has been removed as most of our users found it confusing. If you previously linked accounts together to manage all their settings at once, you’ll now need to manage the settings for each account you had linked separately.
Devices running Windows 10 will require a Microsoft Account. So, whenever a child logs on to another device the Microsoft Family settings will follow.