How to Set up My Family on Your Windows Phone 8

Windows Phone 8 held by Steve Ballmer
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The My Family feature on the Windows Phone website allows you to easily control which apps others, including children, can download and use on their Windows Phone 8 device, as well as letting you control download settings and set a limit based on game ratings.

Everyone Needs a Microsoft Account

Before you can begin to set individual profiles using My Family on your Windows 8 Phone, you will need to ensure each person has a separate Microsoft account. A Microsoft account, which was formerly known as a Windows Live ID, is the email address and password used to sign into things like Xbox, or Hotmail, Windows 8, MSN Messenger, SkyDrive, or Zune. If the user does not already have an account, you will need to create one. 

Setting up My Family

To get up and running with My Family, you first need to sign in to the Windows Phone website. You must sign in using your (the parents) Microsoft account email address and password. Click Get Started on the My Family set-up screen.

From the Add a Child screen, click on the Go link to sign in with the child's Microsoft account details. Remember, these must be the account details used when setting up the Windows 8 phone. If the child does not yet have a Microsoft account, click on Sign Up and create one now.

From the My Family home administration home page, look for your child's name in the list and click on Fix it next to the relevant name. You will now have to accept the Windows Phone Store terms and conditions on behalf of the minor. From this point on, the child using the Windows 8 phone will be able to access the Windows Phone Store and download apps and games.

If you wish, you can enable another parent access to the My Family settings. From the My Family home page, click Add a parent and follow the instructions on the screen. Both parents will be able to change the child's download settings, but neither can change the other parent settings.

Change App Download Settings

Now that you have given the child access to the Windows Phone Store, you may want to add some restrictions as to what they can download.

In the My Family control page (log back in from the Windows Phone website if you have logged out since setting up the My Family account), look for the child’s name in the list of added child accounts and click on Change Settings next to it. Look for the section labeled App and Game Downloads.

Here you can choose which apps your child can download on their Windows 8 phone. Choose Allow free and paid to enable all downloads. If you don't want the worry of unexpected charges, you can choose Allow free only. Or you can simply block all app and game downloads altogether.

You can also turn on the Game rating filter here. This allows you to go into the Microsoft Family Safety website and set the rating for the games your child is allowed to download. Some games, however, are unrated. These games may sometimes include content you would not want a younger child to access, so it is a good idea to uncheck the box next to Allow unrated games.

Enabling Xbox Games

If you also want to allow your child to download Xbox games on their Windows 8 phone, you will need to accept the Xbox terms of use separately to the Windows Phone terms of use. To do this, you need to visit the Xbox website. Sign in using your Microsoft account details.