T-Mobile Announces New 'FamilyMode' Feature for Monitoring Kids' Online Activity

T-Mobile this morning announced the launch of T-Mobile FamilyMode, a new feature that is designed to let parents monitor and control what their kids are doing on their internet-connected devices.

T-Mobile FamilyMode service is available via a FamilyMode app and can also be used with an add-on device called the FamilyMode Home Base, which is designed to connect to a home's Wi-Fi system to provide access to connected devices.


FamilyMode from T-Mobile will let parents manage, monitor, filter, and set time limits for a range of devices, even those that aren't connected to the T-Mobile network thanks to the Home Base. It will also provide location services for keeping track of kids.

According to T-Mobile, it will work with phones, tablets, gaming consoles, laptops, smart TVs, and other Wi-Fi connected devices.

T-Mobile is charging $20 for the FamilyMode Home Base and $10 a month for the FamilyMode app, which controls the FamilyMode system. The FamilyMode feature will be available to customers starting on June 29.


Device monitoring and time management features to cut down on device addiction have become popular in 2018. The newest version of Google's Android operating system includes Android Dashboard for monitoring time spent on a device and setting limits, and a similar feature, Screen Time, has been included in iOS 12.

Screen Time includes comprehensive monitoring of the amount of time spent using iOS devices, along with detailed parental controls and app limit features.

T-Mobile isn't the first carrier to join the device monitoring trend. Verizon in April announced "Smart Family," an app that lets parents track screen time, set content filters, monitor location, and more. Verizon's option does not include hardware and is priced at $4.99 to $9.99 per month.



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9 months ago
Perfect for helicopter parents all around the world!

I understand that every situation is unique and I don’t have children yet, but I feel having meaningful discussions about the internet (more than a simple “don’t do that”) as well as setting time limits on internet access would be better than just idle spying.

Granted, I can imagine more troublesome children will need monitoring; but as a whole I feel like this sets up a feeling of no privacy, and just gets kids used to the feeling that they are being watched always, either by parents or corporations or governments, so what’s the problem of not having privacy?
Rating: 3 Votes
Avatar
9 months ago
This is simply a Family Circle device (https://meetcircle.com) - often branded as Circle by Disney. One of payment, no monthly subscription.
Rating: 2 Votes
Avatar
9 months ago

I understand that every situation is unique and I don’t have children yet, but I feel having meaningful discussions about the internet (more than a simple “don’t do that”) as well as setting time limits on internet access would be better than just idle spying.

Granted, I can imagine more troublesome children will need monitoring; but as a whole I feel like this sets up a feeling of no privacy, and just gets kids used to the feeling that they are being watched always, either by parents or corporations or governments, so what’s the problem of not having privacy?


Bingo. You don't have children. That's okay, it just means you don't have the benefit of seeing stuff first hand.

Some people's kids are pretty good about keeping out of trouble. Some people's kids aren't. Often, though not always, it's more to do with the child's personality than it is the parenting.

Lots of content for kids is great. Some of it isn't, despite it initially appearing so. https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-39381889

As parent you (ideally) tailor your parenting to the individual child's needs. Yes, you have discussions. To the degree you can, not every 8-year old really understands "why" they can't do what they want. As the child grows and matures you expand the boundaries. Give them freedom appropriate to their personalty until you have reason not to -- but *as* a parent you still need to keep an eye on what's going on so you can address an issue while it remains small. Particularly given the amount of predators out there and the new/different ways they stage an attack.

So yes, trust the child to make good decisions. But you still need to verify at some level and to some degree. Without becoming a helicopter parent.
Rating: 2 Votes
Avatar
9 months ago
Yes, yes, let's install an intentional networking sniffing device on the network... I'm sure nothing could go wrong with that...
Rating: 1 Votes
Avatar
9 months ago

Perfect for helicopter parents all around the world!

I understand that every situation is unique and I don’t have children yet, but I feel having meaningful discussions about the internet (more than a simple “don’t do that”) as well as setting time limits on internet access would be better than just idle spying.

Granted, I can imagine more troublesome children will need monitoring; but as a whole I feel like this sets up a feeling of no privacy, and just gets kids used to the feeling that they are being watched always, either by parents or corporations or governments, so what’s the problem of not having privacy?


I would not label parents who monitor their kids (at any level from a minimum of random checks now and then to full-on logging and monitoring of everything they do) as "helicopter parents". To do nothing and just trust your kid is not parenting at all, and if you watch the news, you might see that it's just as easy for it to be YOUR KID that committed suicide or shot up their school, or ran away to be with an internet stranger, and you'll stand back, like ALL THE OTHERS, and say "I didn't have a clue"!

Under 10 is more about controlling the amount of time spent online. Once in middle school, it's a whole different game. You'll find (if you ever have kids) that middle school is make-or-break for your child. It's very easy to hang with the wrong crowd, try drugs, etc. Social media--a big influence. Then there is high school.

The point is, as an "armchair parenting expert" you think a kid develops and matures in the footsteps of how their parents parented them. And to some extent, it is part of the mix, but it's not cast in concrete and there are lots of distractions (the internet being the LARGEST of them) along the way. I might go as far as to say social media, internet "friends" and school friends have more impact than parenting. and, a kid doesn't have to be "troublesome" to have issues. Trust me.

After all, young teens brains are not fully developed and things like consequences and decision-making are lacking for many of them.

Good luck with your future kids!
Rating: 1 Votes
Avatar
9 months ago
Yup, just a rebranded Circle. I believe I got mine for $49 on sale (normally $99); no monthly fee. For $5/month I can add a subscription to get the same features that this FamilyMode subscription includes for $10. So... after 11 months, it's cheaper to have bought directly from Circle, and that's assuming you paid full price for it. If you own it for a few years, that's about $130 cheaper.
Rating: 1 Votes
Avatar
9 months ago

Bingo. You don't have children. That's okay, it just means you don't have the benefit of seeing stuff first hand.

Some people's kids are pretty good about keeping out of trouble. Some people's kids aren't. Often, though not always, it's more to do with the child's personality than it is the parenting.

Lots of content for kids is great. Some of it isn't, despite it initially appearing so. https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-39381889

As parent you (ideally) tailor your parenting to the individual child's needs. Yes, you have discussions. To the degree you can, not every 8-year old really understands "why" they can't do what they want. As the child grows and matures you expand the boundaries. Give them freedom appropriate to their personalty until you have reason not to -- but *as* a parent you still need to keep an eye on what's going on so you can address an issue while it remains small. Particularly given the amount of predators out there and the new/different ways they stage an attack.

So yes, trust the child to make good decisions. But you still need to verify at some level and to some degree. Without becoming a helicopter parent.


Very true info and I do agree very much. After giving it some thought there are definitely things I wouldn’t want my children to stumble upon (besides the obvious). YouTube, even YouTube Kids; even stuff marketed for kids like Bobs Burgers and the such are too inappropriate in my opinion until someone is older.

And don’t get me started on half of the garbage in Netflix Kids.

Thank you for your reply!
Rating: 1 Votes
Avatar
9 months ago

I'd like to announce to fellow parents of the world that are completely SLACKING ...

a HUGE upside the face, strong like a withewall bat, full arm extended, wet open-hand SMACK across the back of the neck.

it's getting really sad and pathentic that there are technology software enhancements that allow parents to watch over their kids instead of:

Loving your kids
paying attention to their likes/dislikes and growing needs from BIRTH,
showing kids how to responsibly use and augment technology,
building and maintaining a form of TRUST real world trust where your word is your BOND!
applicable punishments/withdrawals of said tools and other benefits many, like ever child does at some point take for granted,
instilling them with sound self confident ideals like a job, rewards of feeling good for taking care of responsibilities and positive encouragement to enforce these as life long habits even when at times it's not met by the kids.

[doublepost=1530008451][/doublepost]Great insights, Deep. So crucially important; thank you. Wondering though: how about using only the time-limit feature WITHOUT the monitoring privacy-invading feature. Teens can accept that there are limits to TV, social media, etc. Those things are too often addicting.
So, not parental snooping, but rather a cutoff timer. What do you think?


I'd like to announce to fellow parents of the world that are completely SLACKING ...

a HUGE upside the face, strong like a withewall bat, full arm extended, wet open-hand SMACK across the back of the neck.

it's getting really sad and pathentic that there are technology software enhancements that allow parents to watch over their kids instead of:

Loving your kids
paying attention to their likes/dislikes and growing needs from BIRTH,
showing kids how to responsibly use and augment technology,
building and maintaining a form of TRUST real world trust where your word is your BOND!
applicable punishments/withdrawals of said tools and other benefits many, like ever child does at some point take for granted,
instilling them with sound self confident ideals like a job, rewards of feeling good for taking care of responsibilities and positive encouragement to enforce these as life long habits even when at times it's not met by the kids.

Rating: 1 Votes
Avatar
9 months ago
I'd like to announce to fellow parents of the world that are completely SLACKING ...

a HUGE upside the face, strong like a withewall bat, full arm extended, wet open-hand SMACK across the back of the neck.

it's getting really sad and pathentic that there are technology software enhancements that allow parents to watch over their kids instead of:

Loving your kids
paying attention to their likes/dislikes and growing needs from BIRTH,
showing kids how to responsibly use and augment technology,
building and maintaining a form of TRUST real world trust where your word is your BOND!
applicable punishments/withdrawals of said tools and other benefits many, like ever child does at some point take for granted,
instilling them with sound self confident ideals like a job, rewards of feeling good for taking care of responsibilities and positive encouragement to enforce these as life long habits even when at times it's not met by the kids.
Rating: 1 Votes
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