Family Allowances seems to be some kind of joke

  • 28 February 2017
  • 22 replies

I'm looking into Family Allowances because I want to restrict my 10yo daughter from using her phone until early hours of the morning. She seems to be addicted. We take it away from her in the evenings, but she quite often finds it (she's very intelligent and sneaky). We tell her she isn't allowed to use it at night, but she seems driven to use it. So I decided to look into just shutting down her ability to use it.

I've heard from other parents that they can restrict all accesses based on time schedules (with their providers). T-Mobile doesn't seem to have that possibility. After reading through Family Allowances it seems it can only restrict calls and messaging? That is useless for this situation.

I read this in T-Mobile's family allowances description:


  • You can allow or block when your children (managed lines) can use their devices during predefined time periods, such as during school (9 a.m.-2 p.m.), during homework or dinner time (4-9 p.m.), or when they should be sleeping (9-11 p.m. and 11 p.m.-6 a.m.).


This indeed makes it sound like the "device" can be restricted, but this appears to be an outright lie based on everything else in the description. Everything else only talks about calls and messaging. Blocking the use of their "device" would mean everything can be blocked, not just calls and messaging.


Does T-Mobile have the ability to "allow or block when your children (managed lines) can use their devices" as described, or are they far behind other carriers in this area?


Best answer by tmo_mike_c 6 March 2017, 17:51

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Just so I'm on the same page with you @rglaus, are you looking for something that'll block the devices built-in functions to be blocked? Our Family Allowances is designed to restrict the phone from using services on the network. Unfortunately, we don't have a feature that we offer if you're trying to block them from accessing the phone's internal features.

Userlevel 4

Having been a kid myself once, I'm going to start out by saying kids will find ways around just about anything.  Nothing is going to be foolproof.

T-Mobile can help manage access to the T-Mobile network (as does any parental controls across carriers).  T-Mobile's isn't flexible, and doesn't fit in everyone's needs (this is me still saying it needs to be revamped), but it "works".

But, no carrier will basically completely disable all features of a device with their parental controls.  It's not feasible.  A carrier network cannot control what happens on WiFi, nor vice-versa.  Your two options in this case are:

  - Get a home WiFi Router that has proper parental controls (I heard about one on the radio some time last year -- something tells me Disney may have been somehow affiliated with it? I don't recall the details, but there are several routers nowadays that will let you have restricted times per device).  Use this in addition to T-Mobile's Parental Controls (T-Mobile controls their network, you control yours) -- This doesn't stop them from getting on the neighbor's WiFi.

  - Actually be a parent and let there be consequences of the child not putting their device down when instructed to (this is hard to do, I know, but, back in my day, if I was up late playing my Nintendo, it was removed from me for a while.  There are things called "Feature Phones" or "Dumb Phones" that you can swap their device out for and give them an actual alarm clock if they're not properly obeying).

There's probably apps out there that will help you restrict.  But, apps are easily uninstallable (although, probably not easily reinstalled with the same parameters you set).  Nothing beats being a properly involved parent who follows through with consequences.

We tell her she isn't allowed to use it at night, but she seems driven to use it. So I decided to look into just shutting down her ability to use it.

I SO get this, @rglaus‌.  😀

We've had a similar issue ongoing with one of the 10 year olds in our home (two ten year olds in one home is one of the hazards of blending families 😉)    and the solution we came up with may seem rather barbaric to some:  We disabled data on his line.    (this was easily accomplished from the mytmobile website by selecting 'Plan', selecting his line, and then 'Change Data' .  We opted to disable all data for that line, for the time being)


First, of course, he was given an opportunity to solve things himself. We talked with him about the problem we had noticed (staying up late on device) , asked if he would like to hear some suggestions about how to solve it (he politely declined), and said (and I quote)  "Good luck.  Let us know if you change your mind".  

He did not change his mind about hearing some possible solutions, and did not have good luck with whatever solution he tried, because the behavior continued,  and his parents took care of the problem for him.  Im sure he would have preferred the problem to be taken care of in a different way, but it did get taken care of.  

Our hope is that the next time he is given the opportunity, he may have decided that he would rather us not have to take care of it, and will make a better decision about how to keep his use of electronics from becoming a problem.

Sincerely,  😊


I agree with you they are a joke! If they can find a way to shut a phone down for non-payment, and immediately bareconnect upon payment, they sure as hell could manage this very basic control. They want our kids addicted, the jerks.

Yeah TMobile! We want to be able to block DATA. and we want to be able to do it REMOTELY by logging in to the website! ALSO We want to be able to see the domains they are visiting AND be able to link blacklist and whitelists to the accounts!

I agree that T-Mobile Family Allowances is a joke... I have tried it twice on my son's phone and both times it did not work for what i wanted to do: stop his ability to download data to his phone at specified times or all together stop. Even if one set the data allowance to "0 MB" or "1 MB", the system will tell you that this line is over the limit, but it does not stop the download.

I've also tested the time restrictions on messaging and calls. The interface only allows preset time periods such as 9 am to 2 pm or 4-9 pm or 9-11 pm or 11 pm to 6 am... IN THEORY. In practice, i've found that after i set the limits, my son reported that his phone was not working then it was supposed to work, and sometimes working when it was not supposed to work... Let alone the issue that we'd like to be able to select the times ourselves, rather than having preset times...

Then i also tested the "Always allowed numbers" : phone numbers that would not be blocked such as being able to call your family... It did not work, according to my son. He could not call me, even after the numbers had been set up as "Always allowed".

So twice i had to ask T-Mobile to remove Family Allowances from my account, and get me a refund, which they gladly did with an apology...

What works to restrict kids time on phone is to install an app called " Our Pact"on your phone and your child's phone. See Friends use it, and it does the job nicely...  provided your kid lets you install this app on his/her phone. Once it's on, i heard it cannot be removed without parental permission.

Good luck!

I have a problem access to a Family Allowance, Kept said "

We are currently having trouble with your request. Please wait a few minutes and try again."

Here the picture screenshot. It have been since 2 months and WTF I want this get damn fix ASAP so i can put limit schedule for my daughters

during the school week such like 10pm or 11pm cut off all voice, text and data via LTE and I have parent control on my Internet router. Any solution and I need get this fix ASAP. CMON T-Mobile why am I paying you freaking family allowance $5 dollars. STOP focking stealing my $$$ if it doesn't work. FIX IT


yes. I'm in the same situation. Called T mobile N+1 times and they can never resolve this issue.

I am having the same issue and every time I call they say it’s working fine! This add on is a rip off!

Userlevel 3

Hey, all! We're going through older posts with this feedback and making sure that everyone gets a chance to take a peek at our new family program, FamilyMode, launching 6/29. You can read our blog about it here and learn more in the Resources list at the bottom: Meet the digital ally parents need -- thank you for sharing your opinions with us!

Userlevel 4


Am I reading this correctly in that the app needs to be installed on the controlled phones as well?

That's probably not exactly a "solution" to a lot of these problems as kids are smart enough to uninstall or disable apps if they realize "Oh hey -- that's what's keeping me from getting online!" -- the solution needs to be at the network level.

Routers are now being designed with the ability to turn off devices (or groups of devices) at the network level - no way around it because it's hardware address.  I think T-Mobile's solution needs to similar -- where a family can block access at the level where savvy kids cannot uninstall apps.  If I'm correct in my assumption that the app is required on the child's device, the workaround is way too easy.

(Yes, there's the additional monitoring parents should do on their kid's phones, so this is a "start", but it's not particularly what I feel [as a parent of only the fur kind of kids] should be the solution T-Mobile would have brought to this request.)

I have said the very same thing, some have voice their opposition to my suggestion. I replied back stating, how I thought it was funny how they could stand up to me using a keyboard, but not their own children. I'm like you, when I disobeyed my parents I learned real quick there was consequences for my actions. They do make dumb phones, I'm willing to bet after a few times of using a "dumb" phone they will think twice about using their phones during times they are not supposed to.  A point of note none of my children started out with I-phones or A-Droids they all started out with a Bar(dumb)phone and had to earn getting a touchscreen or what the latest and greatest was during that time period. .

Userlevel 3

Hey, @smplyunprdctble​!

Your read is correct -- the app must be installed on the parent line's device and all of the devices that they wish to manage. The parent line does get a notification on their app if the app is removed from a child line's device. You're right -- it's a start! I know this isn't the place for a deep convo about personal parenting styles (I mean, what is, really?) but speaking as a parent I think it's better to think of FamilyMode as a parenting tool -- I think you're right that families will still need to have their own conversations about what their rules are and why the app is on a device in the first place.

I hadn't heard of the router scenario you mentioned, that's interesting!

Userlevel 4

Marissa (I can't tag you)

Personalizing and Controlling Your Home Network with Xfinity xFi -- that's Comcast's options.  It's built into their router.  The same functionality is available in my Google WiFi router, along with many other newer routers.  The logic is to start controlling screen time, which the app T-Mobile is providing can do as long as it's still properly parented.  I do agree that one shouldn't 100% rely on technology to parent (even though the television was my babysitter growing up).

When it's built in to the system, it's harder to circumvent.  When it's an app, kids will circumvent.  It's a start, but not the best.  But, with it being an app, I don't know how T-Mobile's solution is any better than the other apps out there that offer similar results.

I'm not in a position to debate the options (I'm not the target consumer), but I would have thought T-Mobile would have come up with a network-side solution before (what appears to be) re-branding a third party software-based solution (that is a one-time cost of hardware vs a monthly fee).

Forget everything suggested here if your phones are Android based... just use Google Family Link. Search for it in the Google Play Store. You're welcome... *drops mic*

Yes. Family allowance is a joke. I was controlling phone calls, text, and internet with AT&T. It was free with account with their interface before I switched. I was controlling WIFI through my router. TMobile charges $5 per month for something totally useless. The only option is to take the SIM card off, I guess. Guys provide a total solution for something you are charging as a service.

Times are put in place to restrict calls?


I blocked calls during school hours for my child but there is a gap in the time frames....

9am-2pm (where's 2pm-4pm)


2 year old thread, problem still exists. What’s the latest there tmo?

I have an 8 and 9 year old and decided to get them cell phones.  I signed up for the Family Mode and immediately installed the apps on both phones.  I then set bed time and wake time limits on each phone through the app.  And what do you 9pm nothing on their phones worked.  Even connected to Wi-fi they weren’t able to text, watch youtube, play games...nothing.  They were not happy but I was oh so happy.  

Mark this as not resolved.  Family allowances doesn’t block anything.  I have the Wi-Fi well managed to shut off completely on demand.  However, the internet still works for the phone via T-Mobile’s network. Also, the tethering of said data to downstream PCs that would not work otherwise, because the WI-FI is shut off.  


Turning the line off via Family allowances only operates on the calls and texting.  The internet access achieved though T-Mobile’s network is NOT disabled, despite what they say here and what the buttons & documentation say.   Doesn’t matter if it is Apple or Android.  It shouldn't matter.  The data should be stoppable at the T-Mobile server end.  Otherwise, the phone user can download a free phone app (Snapchat for example) and continue on as if nothing happened.  

It would be better if the phone and text messages still worked, but the Data shutoff did not.   At least we can track phone calls and text messages. 


Being a single parent, I need to be able to locate and communicate with my teens.  

Please stop advertising that the Family allowances provides any kind of useful service.  


Old thread but

What this person was looking for is what's called today "family mode" from T-Mobile apps. It cost an additional $10 per month also.

You can limit specific apps on managed phones.

Also you can limit those apps specifically on iphones as well. With passwords. Never gave your child the Apple ID password solves a lot of problems.

Further, if you don't want your child use your phone at night, just take the phone away and put it in your bedroom by your bed. Under your mattress if you have to!

You're not supposed to be your child's friend what they need. Be the parent.

I just got a phone a couple of weeks ago for my 12 year old grandson.  When I asked them at the store how to set up the parental controls they told me to just google it.  I have set up family mode which I have to pay 10.00 a month for and then I had to call them to add family allowances.  I kept getting an error message every time I tried to put the times to limit the device.  I tried both the app and the website.  I called back several times and they could not figure it out.  It would not save the changes for them either.  I finally got someone that was able to get the times put in and save it.  They told me the app would not work with that feature.  I can look on the website and my app and see that the times have been saved but it is still allowing calls and texts to come through during the blocked times.  I still get an error when I try to set up the web guard.  I was on hold for almost an hour this morning before I was able to talk to someone and then after they still could not figure it out they were going to send me to tech but disconnected me instead.  I have probably spent over 6 hours on the phone in the last two trying to get this resolved.