We learned in February that Microsoft was testing a Kids Mode for its Edge browser — as of today, it's now available for English users in the US. The concept is simple: It gives parents a safe way to let their youngins browse the web, without worrying about them stumbling into adult websites or other unsavory content. It's a full-screen experience, so kids can't easily mouse over to the Start menu and switch apps, and it requires the parent's Windows 10 PIN to disable.
Kids Mode sounds like the sort of thing every busy parent would appreciate. According to its own studies, Microsoft says that around 50 percent of parents deal with the "hand-off scenario," that moment when you give kids access to a shared device because you're rushing to finish dinner, answer the door, or dealing with the multitude of tasks parents face every day. To enter Kids Mode, you just need to click on your profile image in Edge, choose to enable it, and then specify an age range (either 5 to 8, or 9 to 12).
Children will have access to a list of approved sites, as well as Microsoft Bing with its strictest security settings. When kids stumble on a site they'd like to visit that hasn't been whitelisted, they can have parents approve it by entering their PIN. Children can also customize their browsing experience, with a variety of themes (including some from Disney) and the ability to tweak their colors. Older kids will also have access to an age appropriate news feed in their New Tab screen.
Google offers its own family security measures in Chrome, but it requires more manual setup, as well as creating a Google account for your child. Edge's Kids Mode, on the other hand, can be enabled in a few seconds, and it doesn't require creating any additional accounts. That could make it more useful to parents who haven't had time to explore the specifics of browser security, or who just don't want their kids to be tied down with their own accounts just yet.
As useful as Edge's Kids Mode sounds, though, it won't keep slightly savvier kids from breaking out of the confines of the full-screen experience. While testing out the feature, I could access the Start menu by hitting the Windows key on my keyboard, which also revealed the full taskbar. And, if you're wondering, yes you can also hit Alt + Tab or Windows + Tab to swap between apps as well. I figure Edge may not have the ability to completely lock down Windows even more, but I'm sure parents of precocious kids would appreciate a bit more security.