Xbox has bolstered its controls for parents and carers with the launch of the Xbox Family Settings app. The new app will allow them to control key aspects of their family’s gaming experience via Android or iOS devices.
The move is very welcome, as presently parents have to tackle either the Xbox interface itself, or more commonly, log into the Microsoft user account via a browser in order to access such settings and set limitations, while activity reports are sent out via email.
An app such as this one provides a far more convenient and immediate control method. And will allow parents to relax the set time restrictions, based on requests from their children, at the tap of a button. OKing friend requests will also be possible in this way in the future
There is even special consideration given to Microsoft’s kids flagship, Minecraft, allowing for easier setup of online multiplayer permissions, while keeping other games locked down.
The new app, currently in preview, will allow parents to:
- Screen time limits – set limits for each day of the week, for example, you have the ability to allow for more time on the weekends or reduce time during the school week
- Content filters – set filters based on the age of each child; an 8-year old can only access games rated E, and will be blocked from accessing titles that are too mature
- Play and communication settings – 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”
- Activity reports – view daily and weekly activity reports for each child to understand how they are spending their time on Xbox
At present the app does not add any additional functionality for purchases. A system that allowed children to request purchase permission for items, as they do additional time on the Xbox, would be incredibly useful, letting parents and carers manage purchases more easily than the current method of having to enter a passcode to allow them (because as we all know any overly arduous security measure is often disabled by the users its designed to protect).
Dave McCarthy, corporate vice president, Xbox Operations said in a statement:
“We know that especially right now, families are facing new challenges in the wake of school closures, working from home and social distancing due to COVID-19. In my own family, we’ve had to navigate this ‘new normal,’ and how our existing rules for screen time might need to be adjusted to better reflect our reality. With the Xbox Family Settings app (Preview), parents can easily relax screen time on Xbox so kids have more time to play, or create a new schedule to help balance time for remote learning. We believe that especially now, gaming plays an important role to help connect friends and family and have fun while staying home. The app makes it easy to find the right balance of gaming time that feels right for your family.“