Freedom for Families FAQ
Can Freedom be used for parental controls?
Yes! Many families use Freedom for managing screen time, reducing distractions during online schooling and homework, and promoting digital wellness. Parents and caregivers have the option of installing the software on kids’ computers to set up website and app blocks on a regular schedule or as-needed basis. We also offer browser extensions that can limit browsing to only educational websites, set time limits, or collect statistics on browsing habits.
What platforms are supported?
The Freedom app is available for Mac, Windows, Android, iPhone/iPad and Amazon Kindle. We also offer support for ChromeOS and Linux through the Freedom browser extension. Our freestanding browser extensions (Limit, Pause, Insight and Focus) work on the Chrome, FIrefox, Opera or Edge browsers.
Does Freedom monitor or log the websites and apps that kids visit?
Freedom isn’t meant as a parental control/monitoring software, but works as a tool to set boundaries for kids and promote digital wellness.
What are the limitations of using Freedom for children’s screen time?
Freedom was originally designed for individuals looking to be more productive. Because of this, the session controls are available to every device on the account. For example, if you have an iOS, Windows, and Mac device on your account, you could start a block session from the Mac device, but have it apply to all of the devices where the Freedom app is active. This is convenient if you want blocks to apply to all of your devices, but may cause issues if multiple people are on the same Freedom account. While we can’t stop a user on one device from starting sessions on other logged in devices, we can prevent them from stopping the sessions that are running, or altering blocklists and schedules. This guide will show you how.
Setting Up Freedom: Useful tools
Curated Filters: We have premade category filters that you can add to your blocklist instead of having to think of multiple URLs. Popular ones include TV/Video, Gaming, and Social. These include the most often blocked websites in these categories (YouTube, Facebook etc.). When applicable, these filters include both the website and corresponding iOS app. To see what URLs are contained in a filter, you can hover your mouse over the filter name on your dashboard.
Block All Websites: If you’re looking to block access to all websites, you can add this to a session. See How to block all websites with Freedom.
Website Exceptions: If you want to block all except a specific list of websites, or if you want to block a website but add an exception for certain pages within that website, you can use our website exceptions feature on Mac or Windows. This is useful if you want most websites blocked while allowing access to websites needed for online learning.
Block Apps: Freedom also has the ability to block apps. You can create an app blocklist on Mac, Windows, or Android, and those apps will be blocked any time you run a session that includes “Block Apps.” Note that iOS apps don’t have a separate blocklist, but are instead blocked by blocking their backend URLs. More info on that here.
Recurring Schedules: If you want to limit blocks to certain days/times, you can use our recurring schedule feature. This will allow you to set up blocks that automatically kick in at your selected time, such as during the school day. The Freedom app needs to be open on a device for the schedule to automatically start. You can have multiple schedules if you would like to block different distractions at different times. This means you could, for example, block everything except education websites during the day, but in the evenings allow access to game sites, etc. See Start Later and Recurring Sessions
Focus Sounds: If a little bit of background noise helps the kids study, check out the focus sounds located on the bottom left of your dashboard! This allows you to listen to nature sounds, music, and more.
Preventing users from tampering with blocks
We have several features that can make block sessions more difficult to alter or circumvent.
Locked Mode: You can enable locked mode on your dashboard to prevent deletion of blocklists of devices on the account. This will also prevent editing the time zone to evade blocks. More on locked mode here.
Desktop app options: On the Windows and Mac Freedom desktop menus, you can select Options > Disable Quit During Sessions to lock the app and prevent it from being quit during sessions. This will also prevent the user from enabling website exceptions during a session. There are also additional options on that menu for disabling the computer’s Activity Monitor or Task Manager to prevent force quitting the app. Please see our help articles for more about the various options for Mac and Windows.
Start at Login: On Mac and Windows, you can make sure Freedom always starts after the computer has restarted by selecting Options > Start At Login (Mac) or Options > Run on Startup (Windows). This will prevent the user from getting out of blocks by restarting the computer.
24/7 Schedule: Features like locked mode only prevent the altering of blocks while a session is active. If you are concerned that kids will quit the app or edit blocklists before a block session has started, we recommend that you keep a 24/7 recurring session running in the background at all times, blocking just one website you would never need anyway. You can then schedule additional sessions on top of that when needed. This will ensure that the app stays locked.
Disable “End Session”: We have an End Session feature that allows you to disable up to three locked mode sessions on your own without having to contact support. If you want to remove this option, just wait until a session has been running for more than one minute, and then click Edit Schedule > End Session on your dashboard. You will then see a pop-up that asks you to either confirm that you want to end the session, or disable the option.
Log out of the browser dashboard: If you are using the Mac, Windows and Chromebook versions of Freedom, many of the controls are only available through the browser dashboard. If you want to prevent access to these controls, you will want to make sure you have logged out of the dashboard on all browsers. To do this, click “Profile” on the top right, and then “log out” in the same spot. You’ll also want to make sure your browser hasn’t saved your login information.
Browser Extensions for Mac, Windows and Chromebook devices
In addition to the main Freedom app, we also offer several browser extensions that you can set up to help with distractions. These extensions don’t work on a blocking schedule, but restrict access at all times. These can be added to Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Edge browsers. Here is a breakdown of the extensions that might be useful:
Focus: This Chrome extension was created specifically with students in mind. By default, it blocks all except the most common websites used for educational purposes, but the allowed sites can be customized. You set a PIN that is required for changing the allowed sites, visiting a blocked site, or disabling the extension. You can find the Focus extension for Chrome here.
Limit: There isn’t a time limit function built into the main Freedom app, but you can use our Limit extension to do this for websites. The time limits will reset every 24 hours.
Insight: You can use this extension to track how much time is being spent on individual websites in the browser where it’s installed. It records time spent on all websites by default, but if there are any you don’t wish to include, you can remove those from the statistics. This information is only available on the browser where it’s installed, and can’t be accessed elsewhere.
Pause: If you don’t want to completely block websites, but you do want to promote thinking about digital wellness by breaking the cycle of mindless browsing, our Pause extension might be a useful tool for you. With this extension installed, the user will be required to pause and view a calming green screen before visiting a website on the restricted list. You can set the pause time to be anywhere from 1-300 seconds.
If you are interested in trying our Limit, Insight or Pause browser extensions, you can find them at the bottom of our downloads page.
We hope this guide has helped you! If you have additional questions about how you can set up Freedom for your family, please feel free to contact us at [email protected]. We’re happy to provide some additional pointers!