Thinking of buying a Windows Phone handset? Or do you already own your Lumia? Here's how to keep your kids entertained, educated and safe when they use it.
“Kids are able to use smartphones from the age of one or two now, and they’re really interested in them.” That’s the view of Microsoft’s Devices Emma Gilmartin, who we’ve been speaking to about how parents can keep their Windows Phone handsets safe when handing them over to young children.
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Emma is a parent herself, so she knows that whether you have inquisitive kids or independent teens, it’s important for parents to help them get the best out of mobile while staying safe A nd according to Emma, Windows Phone has a string of solutions to do just that…
Corner the market
“Microsoft is such a huge player in this field,” Emma says. “Our company is really active in ensuring that you can protect your children from content they shouldn’t see, and that’s absolutely something we focus on when it comes to Windows Phone as well.”
To make sure that’s the case, Emma reveals that Microsoft has safety as a big focus in both the hardware and software of its Windows Phone devices.
“There’s a huge host of things that we’re doing from a child-friendliness point of view…”
“We have a software and hardware approach,” she explains. “From the hardware side, we make all Microsoft Lumia devices from a single piece of durable polycarbonate. I have two small babies, but I can feel confident that I can give them my Lumia – it might get covered in stuff and dropped on the floor, but it’ll be okay.
“We also have the least amount of apertures, and where we do have them – for the microphone for example – they’re incredibly small, so stuff isn’t going to get stuck in there.
“From a software perspective, there’s a huge host of things that we’re doing from a child-friendliness point of view, regardless of the child’s age – from built in apps like My Family, to Rooms, to Find My Phone, to backing up your wallet. Perhaps the biggest one, though, is Kids Corner.”
Kids Corner is an area of your phone that parents can stuff full of appropriate content. The best bit? It’s completely separate to the rest of your phone.
“You want to be able to give your phone to your children to keep them entertained,” Emma says, “especially when they’re screaming their heads off! To help with that, you can set up Kids Corner with games, apps, music and videos – you choose exactly what goes in there. In order to access it you just touch the power button and, instead of entering your PIN, just swipe to the right. Children then can’t access any of your emails or text messages or anything sensitive; they can only get to what you choose to put in Kids Corner.
“You can customise what they see when they open up Kids Corner, too,” she adds. “You can put their name, favourite characters or colours, for instance – it makes it personal for them.
“The great thing is that if the screen locks – if they put the phone down and then come back to it later – they don’t have to ask for your PIN to get back to what they were doing. Effectively, it’s their own special part of your phone. You can also set up Quiet Hours in Windows phone 8.1, so that your children can’t answer calls from your boss.”
The right content for the right audience
Kid’s Corner is a great feature in its own right, but Emma tells us that Microsoft also wants to help parents find the right content to fill it with, so that our phones can really help children develop.
“If you go into the Windows Phone Apps+Games Store there’s a dedicated Family and Kids section,” she explains. “There are a lot of educational games – apps that are fun but also teach children things. A lot of parents love to be able to keep their children quiet and happy on things like long journeys, but rather than giving them any old games they’d like to be able to help them learn. It’s important to be able to help children learn through mobile technology.”
Kids Corner is clearly built with younger children in mind, but what about older kids with their own Lumias? Microsoft has a solution for that, too.
“We work hard to make sure that every single thing in the store has an age rating.”
“If your kids are a little bit older and you want to allow them to download apps, but you want to control the apps that they can get to, you can set up My Family on your or their device,” says Emma. “That limits on what they can download from the store based on the age rating of the app. So if the apps are rated as suitable for ages 12 and below, for example, then they can download them.
“But if not, then they can’t. You can set the right age and lock it with a PIN, and we work hard to make sure that every single thing in the store has an age rating.”
So with sturdy hardware, safe software and an eye on content, is Microsoft making the perfect phones for parents? “Lumias are durable, safe and incredibly enjoyable for kids,” says Emma, “because you can set up their own phone within your phone, and we really help them get the most out of Windows Phone safely.”