keeping your family safe online

Keeping Your Family Safe Online: Microsoft Family Safety

The IT world is abuzz with information about how to keep your business processes and your clients’ data safe. We hear about firewalls, VPN’s, two-factor authentication, antivirus software… the list goes on.

We don’t hear as much about keeping your family safe online.

Everyone wants to keep our kids safe from inappropriate content. We want to be able to see and control what they’re getting up to, who they’re communicating with and how much screen time they’re getting. We also don’t want to stifle them and prevent them receiving the amazing educational benefits of the online world.

It’s been tricky to achieve all of those things seamlessly and easily across all your devices. That was until Microsoft Family Safety came along.

Today we want to look at this unique program, the features we love about it and how it contributes to keeping your family safe online.

What is Microsoft Family Safety?

Essentially a screen time and parental control app, Microsoft Family Safety is part of the Office 365 software suite. It works across multiple devices, with an an iOS and Android app available plus functionality across Macs and PC’s and even the X-Box.

Kids these days spend a lot of time on their devices, and this is a way to help parents stay on top of what they’re up to. It’s about letting them learn and grow online in a safe, transparent manner.

These are some of the features we feel that will really benefit a family.

The Best Features of Microsoft Family Safety

Set Screen Time Limits on Devices

No more bickering, pleading, putting your foot down or arguing about shutting down the iPad. With this feature you can schedule in your kid’s screen time, giving them a specific amount of usage each day.

Flexibility is also incorporated, with the ability to set limits on app and game screen time but allow education and school work to continue.

In the post-pandemic world where staying at home is becoming the new normal, managing screen time has become especially important to parents. We think they’ll find this feature extremely useful.

Search Filters Provide Strong Boundaries

There are a lot of websites out there you don’t want your kids to stumble across, intentionally or unknowingly. The filters on Microsoft Family Safety are a massive step towards keeping your family safe online.

They block adult content, and you can set them to only allow kid-friendly content to be accessed. Content controls will also alert you if a game or app that isn’t age-appropriate is downloaded from the Microsoft store. Any purchases made will have to receive approval from parents, so you won’t be hit with any big surprise bills at the end of the month.

Weekly Activity Reports

Each week you’ll get an email detailing your child’s activity during the week. It shows what websites and apps they’ve been using, how many times they use and for how long.

Not only is this a great way to see what they’re up to, it can also be used as a conversation starter. It’s an opportunity to talk about what they’re doing, highlight what is beneficial and what isn’t so helpful.

Three hours of Minecraft? That’s healthy and educational. 30 hours? Well that’s probably a bit excessive…

Keep Track of Your Family

GPS-enabled location sharing allows you to know where each family member is, all of the time. You can know when your kids arrive at their friend’s house without having to message or call them to confirm. It also allows you to save favourite locations, like ‘home’ or ‘school’.

A new feature is ‘location clustering’, which shows you when two or more of your family members are in a single location. You can then zoom in to see who it is.

Control Your Data

With Microsoft Family Safety, you’re in full control of how your data is collected and used. They’ve also pledged to never sell or share your data with insurance companies or data brokers. Especially when your kids are involved, most people like to know that their family’s privacy is protected.

If you’ve got any questions about keeping your family safe online, childproofing your technology or the Office 365 suite, Smile IT would love to help. We’re Brisbane Microsoft partners, and have helped many businesses enjoy the productivity-boosting benefits of this software. Contact us here.

peter drummond

When he’s not writing tech articles or turning IT startups into established and consistent managed service providers, Peter Drummond can be found kitesurfing on the Gold Coast or hanging out with his family!