I can imagine that some children may do everything in their power to ensure their parents do not find this app. But for those parents who are in the know and are preferably not archaic with their children’s game time, then Microsoft has released a tool for iOS and Android which will allow you a greater of control over their gaming on the Xbox suite of consoles.
Dubbed ‘Xbox Family Settings‘, this is a free downloadable app for iOS and Android devices which the Xbox team claims “is an important next step in [their] journey to provide families with the tools they need to help create the right balance of gaming in their lives”. Parents and caregivers can create child accounts on the app, which links with their Xbox One / Xbox Series X / Xbox Series S account and enables the ability to respond to notifications, update screen time limits and more.
Some of the things that can be performed on the app:
- Accept or decline friends your child wants to add
- View and manage your child’s friends list
- Proactively grant your child more screen time
The latter I think is the more valuable tool here if used right. While I do believe that parents should proactively regulate their children’s gaming habits directly, I could see it working in a real world scenario close to me. I remember when going through school, I would put off studies and assignments for “another 15 minutes” and then game for another two hours. I may have been a good student, but prone to a gaming binge. Being able to do assignments and then ping for a full night’s screen time once all school work / chores were done would be a clever use of the system.
Below is a quick guide provided by Microsoft detailing how to use the Xbox Family Settings app.
An important first step to using the app is to ensure that each child has their own child or teen account. And setting up a child account is quick and easy through the app and on average, takes just minutes.
Once a child account has been set up, parents and caregivers can customize access to gaming for each child:
- Screen time limits – set limits for each day of the week; for example, you can allow for more game time on the weekends or reduce it during the school week. And a new feature available today allows parents to proactive grant additional screen time – a great option if they did well on a test or completed their homework!
- Content filters – set filters based on the age of each child; for example, an 8-year-old can only access games that are rated E and will be blocked from accessing titles that are intended for more mature players
- Play and communication settings – choose the option to block all access to play and communication with other players, limit access to “friends only” or grant permission for older children to play and chat with “everyone”
- Friends list – new with the app is the ability to approve or decline friend requests your child has made to add friends; parents can also view their friends list
- Activity reports – view daily and weekly activity reports for each child to understand how they are spending their time on Xbox
The app also includes a feature to easily enable access and multiplayer capability for Minecraft, which is rated E10+. Sometimes parents of younger children want to provide access to Minecraft and possibly enable online play with their friends, and a convenient toggle in the app unlocks those specific capabilities quickly. We received positive feedback on this feature from users and we may include similar functionality for other games in the future.
We know that one-size does not fit all and it’s so important that as parents, you have the flexibility to decide and customize what the right access to gaming looks like for your child. With the app, you can also respond to notifications in real time, such as requests from your child to extend the console screen time limit for the day.