With 1 teenager, 2 soon-to-be teenagers (come October) and one pre-teen, electronic devices are running rampant in our household. Technology is huge in education and in the every day loves of our youth. As parents we can either fear this stage, ignore the issue at hand, or embrace it and arm ourselves with tools to handle the technological era. Keeping my kids safe online is extremely important to me, whether they’re at home or away from me. With the new T-Mobile FamilyMode and Home Base, we can keep families safe and have more control over what our youth are spending their time on when it comes to technology and devices.
When T-Mobile asked me if I wanted to test out their FamilyMode and set up Home Base in our household, I jumped at the opportunity because my husband and I have been constantly talking about how to get control back when it comes to device usage. We don’t want to be mean parents and restrict all things fun, but there need to be limits and monitoring. After all, I believe all things in moderation have the potential to be fantastic.
I got my first T-Mobile device, which happens to be an iPhone 8 (my very first iPhone) and the first thing I did was set up FamilyMode. The great thing about the app and Home Base is that you can connect all types of devices to the parent-controlled app. The device doesn’t have to be a T-mobile device to work and it doesn’t even have to be a phone. Set up phones, iPads and tablets, Xbox devices, computers and other gaming consoles. The HomeBase has the ability to control all wi-fi connected devices in the home. Hallelujah! I’d like to go through some of my favorite features and discuss why they are a huge benefit to my family.
Filter web content – Whether my kids are on their cell phones or a device connected to the wifi, I have the ability set up different controls, based on maturity level, to filter specific content from being allowed on that phone/device. I can prevent my kids from accessing chat rooms, specific sites, social media, Youtube (should I desire to) and so much more. I’m able to enable ad blocking and safe search to eliminate sexually explicit content from search results. This is huge for me because I don’t want want my kids coming across filth while doing any innocent searching. I can enable and disable any given app at any given time.
In addition to blocking and preventing certain web content, I can monitor my kids’ usage. Ever wonder how your kids are really spending on all of their time? With T-Mobile FamilyMode you can always know what your kids are up to. How long did they watch Youtube videos? How long were they texting with friends? Know what websites they are frequently visiting and be that fly on the wall you’ve always wished you could be. One of my kids could be on Youtube and Hulu ALL DAY if I let him.
One problem my kids have is losing track of their devices. It drives me crazy and then it causes fighting between siblings because my kids often share devices in the home. T-Mobile FamilyMode provides real-time location information and monitoring so you can always know where your kids are, or simply where their device is! If your kids are old enough to head out with friends, then it’s especially helpful to keep tabs on them and make sure they are where they say they are. In my kids’ case, we can track down that iPad that was stuffed between the couch cushions, that “nobody” did, of course.
With the FamilyMode Home Base, parents can now connect all devices in the home, so you can get the power back!! If the device has the ability to download the FamilyMode app then it can be connected to Home Base and you can keep tabs on it. If it’s on the wi-fi and being used, then you can track it. We have laptops and Xboxes that I just don’t like being used much of the day. Kids fight over the devices and they have a difficult time playing fair and giving equal time. Then there’s the issue of staying on past bedtime. No longer can my kids ignore my requests to get off the games because I can simply turn the wi-fi access off, and I’m not afraid to do it.
My kids may not always be a big fan, but I’d rather be in control and be able to limit the amount of sibling squabbles. Instead of relying on my kids to set time limits on their video game playing, before getting off and giving their sibling time, I can make it happen. After their 45 minutes is up, off goes the wi-fi, or the connected device, which usually means Fortnite, and it doesn’t go back on until they’ve handed the controls over to the next person in life. Such a lifesaver! If my kids can’t agree upon time limits then I will do it for them.
For those kids and family members who think they can’t get away with not being “seen” online simply by going off the wi-fi and using the data on their phone, then that’s where the app comes in handy. From Family Mode I can control data usage. I can pause access to the internet and data at any time, and resume it when I feel like it. So if you have a child who uses too much data, then this is definitely the answer for you! Get the power back!
All-in-all I’m loving T-Mobile FamilyMode because I feel like I can keep my family safe when they are online, but I can also limit their online access so they don’t become complete tech-zombies. I can also issue more time and allowances as they’ve done chores and I feel they’ve earned it. It’s a win-win for everyone. I want to raise well-rounded human beings and the new controls will help make this possible.