The present parental control options for Microsoft Launcher aren’t enough for keeping children and teens away from their phone screens. At most, parents can assign an overall device screen time and get an overview of how kids use their handsets. Microsoft wants to address this situation by giving them more granular control over what apps and games their kids can use and at what time during the day.
Microsoft has tweaked its parental control panel to let you allot per-app time limits, much like the recent Google Family Link update. This is particularly helpful if your kids usually spend most of their screen time gaming and ask for bonuses when it comes to getting their homework done. You can choose to relax any of these limits separately for the weekend to let your children indulge in an extra hour or two of playtime.
The company is also not giving in to astute kids who’d switch devices to get past any screen time restrictions. A usage cap assigned in the panel should be recognized across Microsoft products signed in with your child’s account, be it an Android device running Microsoft Launcher, a Windows 10 PC, or an Xbox One.
Before being able to tinker with these settings, you must have a family group that lists your children with their respective Microsoft accounts. Their personal Android devices should have Microsoft Launcher set as the default Home app, and they must be signed in with the same account provided in the family group. Having done this, you can head to family.microsoft.com to set per-app limits. The feature is currently in preview, so you can expect some random hiccups here and there.
While they sound neat, these additions come with their own caveats, such as Microsoft’s over-reliance on its launcher. If your kid is artful enough to uninstall it, the app restrictions will essentially become pointless. Similarly, Windows 10’s app store is unlikely to have all the apps children use on their Android devices, thereby restricting the scope of the cross-platform feature.