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Microsoft is launching a new Kids Mode for its Edge browser today. It’s built directly into Microsoft Edge on Windows and macOS as a free option that’s simple to enable and doesn’t require much work for parents to manage. The mode can be enabled by selecting it from the Edge profile option, and it will lock kids into the Edge browser with access only to approved sites.
According to kids news agency, “It’s a free, protected online environment for kids 12 and under that gives parents peace of mind when their kids browse the web on a shared device,” explains Divya Kumar, product director of Microsoft Edge, in an interview with The Verge.
Microsoft really designed this Kids Mode around the scenario where parents might hand a laptop over to a child to let them browse the web. Once you trigger Kids Mode, there’s an option to select between five to eight years or nine to 12 years. Both age ranges include the highest level of tracking prevention in Edge and strict Bing SafeSearch to filter out adult text, images, and videos from searches. Microsoft has provided 70 popular kids sites on an automatic allow list, but parents will have to individually add any additional sites on top of that.
This special mode actually restricts popular Windows keyboard shortcuts from working to prevent kids from exiting out, but the same shortcut restrictions aren’t in place on macOS, unfortunately. Once Kids Mode is enabled, an adult will have to input their Windows or macOS credentials to exit out and switch back to their normal browsing.
If a child attempts to view a site not on the list, there’s a block page where they can ask for permission from the adult. As this is privacy-focused and localized to the device, Kids Mode doesn’t require a Microsoft Account, nor will it sync your list of approved websites across devices. Unfortunately, that means you’ll have to set up multiple lists if you have more than one shared PC or laptop.
The higher nine-to-12 age range also includes a news feed on the new tab page in Kids Mode, with curated articles from MSN for Kids. This won’t be current news, or the chance for your child to delve into politics at a young age, as the topics will be more focused on science, fun facts, and animals rather than the latest on the pandemic or geopolitics.
Once Kids Mode is enabled, there are also options to customize the themes, colors, and new tab background. Microsoft has even teamed up with Disney and Pixar to offer special themes like The Little Mermaid, Finding Nemo, and many more.
Microsoft sees this as a “game-changer for parents,” and the simplicity and ease of use is certainly refreshing to see. “When we looked at the other content filtering and control offerings on the market today, we consistently found that most of them require a very lengthy sign-up process or a subscription, and generally don’t offer anything lightweight or catered for kids,” says Kumar.
Kids Mode will be available in Microsoft Edge today for both Windows and macOS.