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Disabling FamilyMode


My son seems to have figured ou that you can disable FamilyMode by simply turning off VPN in the iPhone’s general settings. Is it really that easy to disable the app and make it useless?

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Best answer by tmo_chris 25 July 2018, 23:05

So, while disabling the VPN toggle is not an available option. If he is using an iPhone, you can in fact restrict the deleting of apps. How to use parental controls on your child's iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch - Apple Support

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Just to add a bit - The app isn’t completely disabled, but the time limits don’t seem to work anymore with VPN turned off. Any insight would be appreciated.

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Well that is odd! So everything else is working except for time limits when VPN is off? Also, when the device turns off VPN, you should be receiving "a G_manualstop notification." on your device. Are you getting that?

In looking for a way to lock the VPN settings on the device....... there is not really much of anything to make it easy. You may want to let him know that you can see when it is disabled and that he should not be disabling it.

You can see usage, but you can't limit anything. Also- another fatal flaw is that the app can simply be removed by the child, in the same way that they remove any app on the phone. The whole point of the app is to set some limits for people who don't want to be limited. So, if they can just disable and/or remove it, what's the point?

Userlevel 5

So, while disabling the VPN toggle is not an available option. If he is using an iPhone, you can in fact restrict the deleting of apps. How to use parental controls on your child's iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch - Apple Support

I agree. My son will eventually figure this out and a notification is not going stop him from doing whatever he feels like doing. I'm sure that he will try deleting the app at some point. Why can't the FamilyMode app prevent him from deleting apps? Presumedly it keeps him from downloading them. We have android phones.

Userlevel 5

We appreciate your feedback on this @enriquediablo​. iOS has built in security for disabling the deleting of apps but on Android, you may have to find a 3rd party SW from the Play store. 

My son has also figured out this loophole.  I get reported minutes of use on the family mode app that do not match the actual time he is on his phone.  i can pause his access and he can still use his phone.  is tmobile planning to do something about this?

if there is no fix I’m going to cancel my subscription to family mode- its $15 i can use for something better

I'm having frustrating issues with Family Mode not working on my kids phones when they are away from home and with their Dad and sometimes at school.  So I have had to tell them how to disable VPN on demand for family mode, just so they can use their phones for the weekend.  If not, their phones are stuck for the entire weekend.

Issues:

**VPN stops working and goes into a "Check VPN Device" on my parent phone
I look on their phone and VPN is on.  One of two things happens when this takes place... either they are locked out of their phone OR they have an open phone with no restrictions

**When I fix VPN and it's on at home, I have one phone (iphone 8 @ iOS 12) that when she leaves the house and switches to tmobile network (off wifi) she has no service and it locks her out of everything including texts.  Nothing sends or receives on her phone!  So my other daughter has to text me that it's not working. (btw...my phone shows a green VPN on my parent phone) Again, I have to tell her how to turn off VPN on demand for family mode.  It then works. 

**When they have to sometimes use a hotspot at school on their phones, this disables VPN automatically and family mode is now not monitoring

**When my other daughters iphone 7+ @ iOS 12 goes into sleep mode it loses connection to family mode and I get a message that she is disconnected.  Family mode then sometimes continues to think she's not connected and I get messages that she has not responded for more than a day.  Confusing!!!

Both phones have restrictions set up to where they cannot delete apps.  So I know the app isn't being deleted and reinstalled. I think this app has a LOT of work yet before it's ready to be used for parental monitoring.  This all seems to be VPN/connection issues that should be ironed out before you roll out a new product.  I shouldn't have to constantly reinstall this stuff to make it work.  I literally have been reinstalling every week.  It has what I need in a monitoring app, but when your constantly having to fix it, not worth the $10 bucks per month or my time!  Come on T-mobile...

I will most likely be cancelling and looking into the iOS 12 Screen Time built in app. 

I’m having the same issue. If not fixed soon, will likely cancel service.

From what i understand of Android, there is no way an app can be what we need it to be as a parent. There is no way to lock apps and settings. Of course, the Android version is modified by the carrier, but not so easy to mess with Android's core design which is meant to give the user complete control of the device and stop apps from messing with anything unless you give it specific permission.

On the IOS side there is a way to act at a higher permission level and lock things down for the user, but Android for some reason has not done this.

I have tried to use Tmobile family controls TWICE now and both times my kids get around it within minutes.

Kasperksy does have an app which they claim cannot be deleted or messed with on Android, not sure how, but will check it out.

My 15 year old son figured out how to disable this app within 30 minutes on his android phone. The point was to stop him from using it at bedtime or in school. It's completely useless.

I agree...this app is a joke and doesn't prevent what I am paying for.  My son realized pretty quickly that if he turns off VPN on his IPHONE all the restrictions and time limits I setup in FamilyMode are turned off.  Yes I get a notification but that doesn't stop him.  I downloaded Iphone Apple Screentime to help block him from changing phone settings but that didn't work. Verizon had a much better Parental Security/Restriction software.

Any suggestions.

With my family, if they delete the app - the phone goes away.  If they want me to pay for it, they need to abide by the rules. I had them check it in with me at night. It took 1 night for them to realize they’d rather have the phone with them with the VPN on, then to give it to me.

Agreed, my stepdaughter has downloaded a VPN that overrides the FamilyMode VPN and allows her to do what she wants whenever, even if we switch to no data on her phone she can still do what she wants because of the VPN app she downloads.  We feel that for the service T-Mobile should find a way to lock the app and VPN to the phone from being deleted or overridden by another app.  This is being done with an iPhone.  We did set a security passcode on her phone from deleting apps but she just defaulted the phone back to its original settings.  My husband and I are disappointed with the feature.  The concept is good but having this feature locked into the phone would be much better.

It’s a year since the last post in this thread and I’m a new user of FamilyMode.  After installing and  configuring, I tested my daughter’s iPhone.  Everything worked as advertised.  Thirty minutes after giving the phone back to my teenage daughter, she simply turned off VPN and bypassed all controls.

Apparently, they still haven’t fixed this issue.

 

This service may be useful for five year-olds, but any kid who can read is going to find this fatal flaw very quickly and you will have zero control.

Completely useless app. 

My son seems to have figured ou that you can disable FamilyMode by simply turning off VPN in the iPhone’s general settings. Is it really that easy to disable the app and make it useless?

My son just removed the app, TikTok made him do it. Perhaps not using a bright pink magenta color app icon and disguising the name to "FM T-Mobile" he wouldn't have noticed it so quickly. It would be nice if we could customize it. I had to tell him if he removed it again that I would disable his entire phone and take over his email address.

From what i understand of Android, there is no way an app can be what we need it to be as a parent. There is no way to lock apps and settings. Of course, the Android version is modified by the carrier, but not so easy to mess with Android's core design which is meant to give the user complete control of the device and stop apps from messing with anything unless you give it specific permission.

 

On the IOS side there is a way to act at a higher permission level and lock things down for the user, but Android for some reason has not done this.

 

I have tried to use Tmobile family controls TWICE now and both times my kids get around it within minutes.

 

Kasperksy does have an app which they claim cannot be deleted or messed with on Android, not sure how, but will check it out.

Android has family link, you create the email that the phone operates under and then you can control the phone. However, my son already created an email address which he has all this history on, so I didn't remove it because he was devastated. But if he removes T-Mobile Family Mode again, I will add family link and shut it down. Just wish I had known about family link earlier before creating the email address.

I downloaded the app a few months ago, was about to give my son the phone right away, but decided to play with the settings.  About a half hour later, I found this same loophole.  

Agree with these comments. My son disabled the VPN the first day he had his phone this week. T-Mobile, have you done something about this? I am deciding whether to keep the feature. 

 

Until I decide, I will follow the previous suggestion to take phones at night if it ever happens. 

I just installed FamilyMode on both my kids phones. After a few days I received the “no longer communicating with FamilyMode” message from the older boys phone. He admitted to turning off the VPN, and with a hint of attitude I might add, so I logged on to T-MOBILE, pulled up his line, and changed his Active Add-ons to “No Data”.

So, while disabling the VPN toggle is not an available option. If he is using an iPhone, you can in fact restrict the deleting of apps. How to use parental controls on your child's iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch - Apple Support

Yeah, I can set-up Screen Time in an iPhone such that my kid can’t delete the T-Mobile Mode app, but he can still toggle-off the VPN. If you can’t work with Apple to disable toggling-off VPN, then at least do the parental controls on the data/cellular side without needing VPN. It won’t work when the phone is connected to wi-fi, but parents can choose to put parental controls on the wi-fi too using third-party software.

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