It’s a given that there is a sizeable chunk of users of our favourite handhelds that have not yet come of age and they are not about to stop or diminish in number. If anything, as the world becomes more and more connected, so are they.
Given the complexity of the world these devices open them up to and the important development they are undergoing at the same time, there is almost always a need for adult supervision both to curb against harmful excessive use as well as to control access to the dark corners where we wouldn’t want them to find themselves for their own safety, sanity and innocence.
Microsoft, which is emerging as a key player in Google’s mobile ecosystem as it makes a strong push for its various products and services without fiercely hinging them to its Windows ecosystem as it previously did, has also had its own solution.
Microsoft lets parents and guardians specify the amount of time their children and other underage dependents spend on their Windows devices and/or game consoles (Xbox).
Today, Microsoft is expanding the functionality of its screen time feature as part of its “efforts to empower families to strike the right balance of technology use in their lives…”
Going forward, parents are not only able to set a duration for how long the young ones in their care can play games and do other things on the devices available to them but also specify which apps and games they can access.
“Rather than a blanket time limit for time spent on device, you can now set limits at the app or game level, enabling you to be more specific with how your kids are spending their time with technology. This can be extremely helpful as parents struggle to balance the needed screen time for homework or education purposes when children use the same devices for gaming and entertainment.”
On Android, the Microsoft Launcher needs to be installed on a device in order to enforce the app and game limitations set.
Since this is on an account basis, clever kids that used to bypass earlier screen time limits by switching devices will be unable to do so since the limits apply to specific applications.
It is rather curious that Microsoft waited until the global launch day of version 10.15 of Apple’s macOS, named Catalina, which includes its own screen time feature, to make this announcement.