T-Mobile FamilyMode will help parents manage their kids’ device usage


Digital wellness is a hot topic in mobile right now, and today T-Mobile introduced an app and device to help parents keeps tabs on their kids’ usage.

T-Mobile FamilyMode is now official. Launching June 29th, the combination of the Home Base box and service will let parents manage their kids’ smartphone and tablet usage as well as set filters and time limits. With both the FamilyMode app and Home Base box, parents can manage their kids usage on both cellular and Wi-Fi, including non-mobile devices like laptops, game consoles, and smart TVs.

Pricing for FamilyMode will be set at $20 for the Home Base device and $10 per month for the app. The app will be available on both Android and iOS.

With FamilyMode, you can set limits on how much your children can use apps and services, like between 6 pm and 9 pm on weeknights. If your kids deserve a reward for doing well in school or another aspect of their life, you can use the app to give them a bit more screen time. You can also instantly pause and resume internet access if you need to pull your kids away from their phone or tablet.

Another feature of FamilyMode is that you can keep tabs on what your children are doing on their devices. This includes seeing which apps they’re using and which sites are in their internet history. Parents can restrict access to certain sites and apps with FamilyMode, too.

T-Mobile’s FamilyMode can also help parents keep track of their kids’ physical location. Real-time location info can show parents where their kids are as long as they’ve got their phone on them.

There’s some useful tools in FamilyMode for children as well. A dashboard can show them their online time usage, limits, and rewards.

It can be tough to keep tabs on everything that your kid is doing online, but T-Mobile’s FamilyMode looks like it’ll make things a bit easier for parents with filters, limits, and usage history. And while the Home Base is an added one-time cost, having the option to manage non-mobile devices like gaming consoles and computers could be handy.

What do you think of T-Mobile FamilyMode? Are any of you parents going to sign up when it launches later this week?

Source: T-Mobile (1), (2)

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  • Brenden Morris

    What’s the point of having the “Home Base box”….. In today’s technology, you should be able to control everything from your smartphone with an App, without having another physical product to keep track of.

    • I think it’s a two-pronged approach. The Home Base box is for managing the Wi-Fi restrictions for local devices, while also storing the family’s settings, so that it can also reach out to cellular devices ousidet of the house.

  • Adrian Nagle

    How does this device/service work when away from the home wifi? Is it still practical?

    • “…parents can manage their kids usage on both cellular and Wi-Fi…”

      Since there’s no support page or manual for it yet, this is all a guess:

      Much like how they can tell what’s streaming media for Binge On and Music Freedom, I’m going to take a wild guess and say that they’ve implemented a setup that adds an always-on VPN profile to mobile devices in order to route DNS requests through the Home Base or back to T-Mobile, so, for example, whether you’re using Facebook’s website, the Facebook app, or a third-party Facebook client, they’ll know you’re reaching out to Facebook, and apply the limits appropriately.

  • Dave Thompson

    It will be a good idea for intelligent parents and a horrible one for the controlling swivel eyed assholes to abuse

  • Francisco Peña

    There are plenty of apps out there that can do that. I have an app i include for my son that can limit his usage, restrict for school, night, etc. I get a summary of the apps and stuff he does and how long he’s on each. There is also a reward component that if he does certain chores/activities, I can reward him with extra time. Only $3.99 a month and I can add more than one child to that.

    • Iphart

      Good points you got there. But I’ll sign up for this if it was $5 a month.

  • John Doe

    Where is Universal profile RCS support? It is almost the end of the 2nd quarter

  • iron_c

    I use ScreenTime to manage the kids’ phone usage. It’s also a few bucks a month like Francisco mentioned and has the same features. Great way to get your kid’s attention when you need it.
    For the house, I have a Netgear Orbi setup and they added Circle support, so I’ve been using that to control all other internet access for PS4s, laptops, tablets, even the smartapps on the TV. It’s also a few bucks a month and has worked well enough.
    The UI for Tmo’s FamilyMode looks exactly like Circle Home, so I’m wondering if that’s what it is under the covers. The monthly cost is higher than just using Circle’s service.

  • bman893

    It might be just me but I really see this device is being mute because most kids old enough to use a device already have the ability to turn the service is off I just find it really redundant to build apps and devices to monitor kids usage and apps they use when a big portion of the apps made on Google Play Store are by kids around 12 to 16 LOL if you don’t think your kid has the ability 2 turn this off whenever they want and if you are the parent that says no not my kids I give your kid’s Round of Applause for having you fooled

    • adampk17

      Do you mean moot?

      • bman893

        Yup I did

    • Jason

      How would you know? I would assume this service doesnt have a big OFF button on the childs phone. Could be done at a network level

      • bman893

        Yes I obviously didn’t mean your kid could push a big off button I talking network wise

  • Nobody Special

    T-Mobile customers have been begging T-Mobile to create this for years now… Finally they came up with something, great job T-Mobile, but im not interested (and yes i do have kids).

    Will these smart & savvy kids find a work around this device/service ((((((absolutely))))))) thats when T-Mobile will introduce the T-Mobile FamilyMode Plus and T-Mobile FamilyMode Simple Choice International and charge more money for these upgraded services ;)

    And a side note: Many of these devices/services are not being used to manage kids…. People are using this technology to monitor their spouses !


    • Jason

      Got to keep your hoes in check :-D

    • Gavriel Ostrow

      Ha, monitoring spouse’s. As if you need privacy from your better half, if anything. Anyone who says that is probably doing something shady with their devices otherwise why would they care?

  • dl_crash

    There’s a big black hole in this. The “full terms” says “it won’t filter secure HTTPS traffic” thus making it useless as 99% of the internet is HTTPS including social media, porn, gambling, or what not. Further, as stated by others the kids will find away around this, and your router has time controls, content filtering and most of the things they are trying to sell built in for free. This is another waste of time like the Mobile Money card.

    • Clifton K. Morris

      If that’s true…

      You know, why even bother. A kid could buy a Raspberry Pi for $35, and be online using proxies or Tor within 10-15 mins.

  • Acdc1a

    This is so much easier than actually parenting. Thanks T-Mobile!

    • Jason

      On the contrary, it makes active parenting easier. Much easier. The parents who dont care arent going to use this.

  • NOte8_8

    This is the same thing as Disney Circle. Re-brand for T-mobile. I have it for a few months now and works great.

    • Clifton K. Morris

      With one major exception- the disney-branded version is $4.99/month for up to 10 devices, and hey could be on any carrier… even the Sprint “1 Year Free” plan.

      It’s amazing just how expensive the cost of silkscreening a pink “T” logo can cost.