Comcast and its Xfinity brand have put a lot of attention behind the company's xFi internet management services in recent years, offering parents a pretty comprehensive set of tools to manage how much time family members spend online. One of those tools is scheduling a "bedtime mode" which takes a family member's devices offline. While handy, it's a pretty limited feature, letting you pick an offline time for weeknights and a different one for weekends. Today, though, xFi's scheduling features are getting a big upgrade: users can add up to 30 individual "downtime" sessions into each user's profile, giving parents far more granular controls over when their kids (or themselves) can access the internet.
If you haven't used Xfinity's xFi app before, it lets you identify every device connected to your home internet and assign it to different groups. Assigning devices to individuals is a logical choice -- that way you can see how often a child is using her phone, tablet and laptop, for example. You can also set up other zones or rooms for devices that don't have a specific primary user. Smart home devices like speakers or cameras would fit into this category, as might video-streaming devices like an Apple TV.
Regardless of how you have those profiles set up, the xFi app now allows you to have much more granular control over when they can access the internet and when they cannot. For example, you can now block off dinnertime and homework time as well as overnight, and that schedule can change based on the day.
Of course, you don't need to have kids to use these settings, as well -- if you and a partner want to curb your internet addictions, this could be helpful. Or if you want an easy way to kill network access for a certain type of device in your home, like TVs or video game consoles, this feature would fit the bill. There are other ways to control devices on your network, as well. If you don't care when house members are online and just want to curb overall screen time, you can set a device or profile to lose access to the internet after a set number of hours each day.
These features roll out to Xfinity's internet subscribers today, but the one catch is you'll need to be using one of the company's compatible Xfinity "gateway" routers. All these downtime controls can be accessed via the xFi app for iOS and Android, or on your TV using the X1 voice remote.