T-Mobile introduces FamilyMode so parents can control their kids' screen time
With "smartphone addiction" getting addressed by Google, Apple and Facebook to name a few, T-Mobile is tossing its solution into the ring with the unveiling of FamilyMode. Consisting of an app and a device that connects to your router (T-Mobile FamilyMode Home Base), FamilyMode allows you to shut down your kid's internet connectivity when you want them to put away their phones. This would come in handy at meal times, when you want everyone to be talking to each other instead of staring at a screen. Bedtime would be another obvious choice when this would come in handy.
This is not a free service. The Home Base requires a one-time $20 payment, and the app runs $10 a month. The features of FamilyMode include:
- Set daily internet limits on apps or platforms – Only give your child online access between 7pm and 8pm on school nights, for example. Or set a half hour screen time for Netflix to watch on your teen’s TV. You can even set bedtimes for each kid – now they’ve only got online access until a certain time of night.
- Choose which platforms, sites and apps to allow on phones and tablets – Younger kids not ready for social media? Turn off their access with one tap. Or pick and choose sites and apps to restrict – one kid’s ready for YouTube but another’s not? Control is in your hands.
- Instantly pause and resume mobile internet access – Asked the kids to do the dishes twice already, but the sink’s still full? Pause their devices easily! Last of the plates squarely put away in the cupboard? Resume!
- Filter out inappropriate content – Use customizable filters to allow or deny online access to certain sites and phone or tablet apps for each of your kids, like educational apps or Minecraft for the younger kids…Twitch and Steam for the older ones.
- Reward your kids with bonus screen time – Kiddo snagged an A on their essay and didn’t complain about meatloaf night? Go ahead, give ‘em a little more time on their gaming console for Fortnite with a quick tap.
- See where your kids spend their time online – See which apps and sites your kids use and even their internet search history.
- Know where your kids are -- With real-time location information, you’ve got peace of mind because you can check in on where your kids are as long as they have their phone…anytime, from virtually anywhere.
FamilyMode will be available starting on June 29th and T-Mobile subscribers can order it by visiting a local T-Mobile store, online, or by calling 1-800-T-MOBILE (current subscribers can dial 611 from their T-Mobile handset). The feature is available to customers with an iPhone running iOS 9.3.4 or later or those with an Android device running Android 5.0 or later.
T-Mobile says that kids in the states get their first smartphone at 10.3 years old, and 68% of parents say that they feel a lack of control over how and when their kids use their connected devices. T-Mobile's FamilyMode puts the power back in the parent's hands. The app can be used anytime and anywhere. For more information, check out the video at the top of this article.