Starting Thursday, Microsoft’s Edge browser comes with Kids Mode, a protected zone with only approved websites that parents can quickly enable when handing a laptop to their children.
You can engage Kids Mode by selecting it from the profile icon in the upper right corner of the browser window. Once it’s on, kids will get a choice of more colorful Edge themes — several of them featuring Disney and Pixar characters — and access to a curated list of about 70 websites. Parents can customize the choices, adding or removing what they’d like.
There are two modes, one for kids ages 5 to 8 and another for 9 to 12. The two modes are similar, but the older age bracket will get a custom news feed from MSN for Kids with items about animals and science.
The new mode is an example of tech companies trying to make technology safer for kids to use in an internet plagued with bullies, misinformation, scammers and malware. It doesn’t address another parental worry — that kids are getting too much screen time — but not all problems can be solved at once, and Kids Mode addresses a real concern.
“It’s something that’s consistently come up in all the research we’ve done,” said Divya Kumar, an Edge product director. “There is a concern with parents.”
Kids Mode also sets Edge’s privacy to its strongest setting. It runs in full-screen mode, hiding the task bar so other apps can’t be run, and parents will need to go through their login process to exit Kids Mode.
The feature also exemplifies Microsoft’s effort to make its newly revamped Edge browser more relevant. Despite shipping with Windows 10,. Microsoft rebuilt Edge on Chrome’s open-source foundation, called Chromium, to try address issues like website compatibility and performance, and now is trying to get ahead by offering higher-level features not in Chrome.
Kids Mode is a couple clicks away and doesn’t require all the setup effort or Microsoft account of the more elaborate Microsoft Family Safety feature. “It’s complementary,” Kumar said. “It’s much more lightweight.”