How to Use the Microsoft Family Safety App

Keep track of the kids and manage screen time

The Microsoft Family Safety app is Microsoft's answer to Google's Family Link app. It provides insights into how your child is using their phone, their location, and even lets you set time limits on app use and game time.

Previously Microsoft Family Safety was only available as an app to control your child's computer use in Windows 10. Now it's also available for Android and in preview for iOS. Apple has a similar app to this called Screen Time.

How to Use the Microsoft Family Safety App

Using Microsoft Family Safety has a few prerequisites. You need to have a Microsoft Family Group, your child needs to have Microsoft Launcher and Edge or Internet Explorer installed on their phone, and you need to add your child as a member of your family group.

  1. To get started, visit the Microsoft Family Safety page. If you haven't signed in with your Microsoft account yet, you'll be prompted to. Then you can select Create a family group to get started.

    Screenshot of Microsoft Family Safety page.
  2. To create your family group for the first time, you'll need to answer a few questions, such as your region, how many children you have in the family, and their ages.

  3. When you're logged into your Microsoft account, select the Add a member link in the Family section to start adding family members to the group.

    Screenshot of Microsoft account page.
  4. You'll be prompted to add a new family member to your group. If you're adding a spouse, select Organizer. If you're adding a child, select Member. Enter the email address, the correct Captcha code, and select Send invite.

    Screenshot of adding a member to a Microsoft Family Group.
  5. When the child account is first added, you'll need to configure what organizers in your Microsoft Family Group can see. Under your Child's account, select Manage permissions. Enable organizer permissions under all sections.

    Screenshot of organizer permissions in Microsoft Family Group.
  6. Your child should receive an email with the invite to the Microsoft Family Group. Have them open the email and select Join Now.

  7. Once your child has joined the group, they'll also need to install the Microsoft Launcher app onto their phone so that you can track their location. Currently, this app is only available for Android. Help your child go into the app permissions for the Microsoft Launcher app and enable at least the Location setting.

    Screenshot of Microsoft Launcher app permissions.

    For other Microsoft Family Safety features to work, you'll need take make sure your child also has Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer installed on their mobile device.

  8. You'll need to give the Microsoft Safety Family app some time to sync with the Microsoft Launcher app before you'll see all of the menus appear.

Monitoring Mobile Usage With Microsoft Family Safety

Once the Microsoft Family Safety group is synced, there are a lot of things you can see and control on your child's mobile device.

  1. The Activity tab is where you can access all of the settings on one page. This is also where you can enable or disable overall monitoring. One of the first things you should do is enable Activity reporting, as well as Email weekly reports to me if you'd like to receive email updates about their mobile usage.

    Screenshot of Microsoft Family Safety activity tab.
  2. The Screen time tab is where you can control at what time of day your child is allowed to use their devices. Currently, these settings are only for Windows 10 or Xbox devices and not mobile phones.

    Screenshot of the Microsoft Family Safety Screen time tab
  3. App and game limits is where you can either block the child from using certain apps, or you can set a time range when they're allowed to use them.

    Screenshot of App and game limits in Microsoft Family Safety.
  4. Content restrictions lets you manage what kind of content or apps your child is allowed to access based on age limit.

    Screenshot of app age limits in Microsoft Family Safety
  5. Toward the bottom of this page you can either always block or always allow specific websites as well, regardless of the browser your child is using.

    Screenshot of blocking websites in Microsoft Family Safety.
  6. On the Spending page you can require your child to ask permission if they ever want to buy an app from the Microsoft Store. You can also add money to their Microsoft account balance.

    Screenshot of Spending controls in Microsoft Family Safety.
  7. One of the coolest features in Microsoft Family Safety is the Find your child page. On this page, you'll see the current location of your child.

    Screenshot of the location feature in Microsoft Family Safety

Microsoft Family Safety for Android

If your child has an Android phone, the Microsoft Family Safety app, because it's less intrusive, is a useful alternative to other parental control apps.

Keep in mind, however, that using Microsoft Family Safety requires your child to willingly join your Microsoft Family Safety group, and keep the required apps installed. So make sure to talk with your child before setting everything up so that everyone is on the same page regarding appropriate use of mobile devices.