Microsoft 365 Family plan: Office is not just for the office anymore

You might be wondering, “What does family safety have to do with Microsoft Office 365?” While many think of Microsoft 365 as a work product, more and more people are buying Microsoft 365 subscriptions for home use — especially those who work from home as the pandemic rages. (This is one of the reasons Microsoft has rebranded “Office 365” as “Microsoft 365.”) So, what about family safety? Let’s take a closer look: Login to portal.office.com, and when you click on the app launcher, you will notice that Family Safety is listed with the other apps like OneNote, Excel, OneDrive, Word, Outlook, and Skype. This is what it looks like:

What is family safety in Microsoft 365?

Microsoft

So, what does this allow me to do and what kind of subscription do I need? When you buy a Microsoft 365 license, whether it is E5 or E3 or the business ones, you get access to certain things. With the Microsoft 365 Family subscription, you get the premium apps that can be used by a maximum of six people, and each family member has access to 1TB of storage. Yes, they get their own storage.

If you own an Xbox or you are someone else in your family play games on Windows 10, this subscription allows you to limit screen time across all these devices. This is great if you want to allow some family members only a limited time to do things like watching videos or playing games.

With this subscription, it is not limited to just that, of course. You can do the following as well:

  • Filter content
  • View activity reports for each family member
  • Find your family
  • Collaboration
  • Microsoft Store access control
  • And, as mentioned, limit screen time

We will briefly cover each topic above in a bit more detail below:

Filter content

With the digital age advancing as it is, there is so much content on the Internet, but not all content is suitable for all ages. Microsoft allows you to create content filters that will allow your children to play games for their age group and view information on the Internet appropriate for them. All the family safety settings outlined work in Microsoft Edge.

View activity reports for each family member

Microsoft

This is exactly what it sounds like — reports that get sent weekly so you can see all the activity across all the applications that they access or the games that they play and the devices that they use. Some of you might say, “Why do I need to see reports?” but others want to know what is going on. You have to be careful these days.

Find your family

On the Internet, you can buy watches that can track your child’s movements, so if you have a teenager who has a bike or car and they travel to college or school, you can keep track of them. Microsoft developed an app for iOS and Android that they class as a premium feature, where you can be sent push notifications when your child arrives at school, for example. You can also monitor their behavior behind the wheel. The App is called “Microsoft Family Safety,” and this app needs to be installed on all devices — laptops, mobile phones, Xbox, and tablets.

The Drive Safely option is only available in the U.S., UK, Australia, and Canada. And take note that some features are limited to iOS at the moment.

Collaboration

As mentioned earlier, this subscription has access to the Office Suite. If your children need to write essays or do other schoolwork where they need Word or perhaps Excel, they can do so or access their own email account and chat with friends or family.

When it comes to collaboration, instead of everyone having a diary and missing appointments or sporting events at school, you can now create a shared family calendar and have everything in one place that everyone can access.

Microsoft Store

We know that children want that new game or console they saw, and with the safety features, you can set up a family account to require adult approval to buy things in the Microsoft Store. This saves you from a few hundred dollars going off your account for items that you didn’t approve for purchase. To have this setting in place, you need to enable it by signing into family.microsoft.com with the organizer’s account and then selecting the family member’s name. Then you can select “Spending.”

In the section “Ask to Buy,” you need to enable “Needs organizer approval to buy things.” This way, you can avoid those unwanted purchases.

Limit screen time

We did chat about this earlier in the article, but if you do find that the settings you have in place are not working, Microsoft advises that you should check for updates on all devices to ensure they are fully up-to-date and restart the device. You are also able to set up a single schedule that will apply to all devices, so if you allow two hours in a day, they have two hours to play Xbox or play on their Windows 10 devices.
Take note that you need to keep accounts in the family group. Any accounts that are not part of the family group will not get the screen time limits. You can also set restrictions to not allow anyone to create new accounts without a guest key.

On a final note, if you are into meal planning or watching your carbs for the whole family or you have everyone on a keto diet, you can use OneNote that syncs in real-time, and everyone can see this. It’s not limited to meal planning, of course; OneNote can be used for anything, such as taking notes or tracking household chores.

Microsoft 365 Family subscription: Find the one that works for you

If you feel this plan is for you and your family, you can search for “Microsoft 365 Family subscription” in Google or purchase a subscription that suits your needs.

Featured image: Shutterstock

Edward van Biljon

Edward van Biljon is an experienced messaging specialist working in the IT and services industry. He is skilled in WSUS, domain name system, datacenters, printer support, and System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM). He has a background as a strong IT professional and has an international diploma in programming focused on computer programming.

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