Backing the day, as we like to say, Windows Phone had a lovely feature called ‘Kids Corner’. The idea was that if your child was using your device, you could activate this feature and it would limit the functionality of the OS to apps and services the parent defined – that type of feature is coming to Edge.
Called Kids Mode, this is a new feature that will allow you to quickly turn the browser into a sandboxed-style experience that limits the pages that are accessible to the user. To enable the feature, select your user icon in the top right and click Kids Mode, this turns on an experience designed for children 5-12 to safely browse the web.
The goal of this feature is to make a safe web-browsing experience for children that the parent can control without having to constantly watch over the child’s shoulder. With features like a pre-defined approved-list of acceptable sites, customized experiences based on their age group, strict blocking of tracking scripts, and requiring an authentication challenge to exit kids mode, it’s an addition to the browser that many parents will find useful.
Once enabled, the experience lets the parent select an age bracket of either 5-8 or 9-12 that will unlock or restrict specific functionality. The biggest difference between the age groups is that for the older children, they will have access to a heavily filtered version of MSN News that is curated for kids.
The experience provides bright and colorful theme options and makes the child feel like they are in control. This will be a good way to introduce your child to the basics of using a web browser but without the worry of the millions of bad actors lurking with either deceptive websites or malicious downloads.
If a child goes to a site that is not on the approved list, a parent is able to quickly approve that page for the browsing session with an authentication challenge.
The approval functionality is still in its infancy but there is potential here. While the approved list will not currently sync to mobile experiences and there is not yet a way to share them – I would not be surprised to see these features arrive in the future.
The reason I think that this sharing functionality is important, the approval-sync to mobile is self-explanatory, is that sharing lists makes this useful for the education space. I have a 7yr old daughter and will absolutely be using this to limit her exposure but what would be helpful is to create an approved list of all the websites needed for school and then share them with her classmate’s parents.
Simply put, the school could create a curated approval list, send that to each parent, and then there is reduced friction with using this new feature for school activities.
It’s important to point out that Kids Mode does not require a Microsoft account but that also means that it does not sync with Microsoft Family Safety. That’s a bit of a downside but at the same time, it takes about two clicks to get you into Kids Mode and, for now, I would accept the tradeoff of getting this feature out the door and not forcing the Kids Mode sync to Family Safety for V1 – but I do hope that it will show up someday.
While Kids Mode is not for everyone, in our house, this will be a welcomed update. And the fact that it’s easy to launch, relatively easy to manage, and is free, I would expect this feature to be used in many other homes as well.