Microsoft Announces New Features to Help Parents Control Kids' Screen Time on Xbox

Cross-network features come to Microsoft family controls to help parents keep their kids safe online.

Young people are spending an increasing amount of time in front of digital screens. Whether it's a tablet such as an iPad, a portable gaming device like the popular Nintendo Switch or a traditional video game console system like the Xbox One or Playstation 4, kids are plugged in now more than ever.

Streaming content via YouTube and massively multiplayer online games like "Call of Duty" and "Fortnite" create a powerful allure for kids who want to play and interact with their friends online. It's not uncommon for kids to want to spend seemingly all of their waking hours watching videos, playing games, surfing the web or texting friends. Playing outside and communicating face-to-face with actual humans is a rarity.

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Screen Time

Young people are spending an increasing amount of time in front of digital screens. Whether it's a tablet such as an iPad, a portable gaming device like the popular Nintendo Switch or a traditional video game console system like the Xbox One or Playstation 4, kids are plugged in now more than ever.

Streaming content via YouTube and massively multiplayer online games like "Call of Duty" and "Fortnite" create a powerful allure for kids who want to play and interact with their friends online. It's not uncommon for kids to want to spend seemingly all of their waking hours watching videos, playing games, surfing the web or texting friends. Playing outside and communicating face-to-face with actual humans is a rarity.

A cbsnews.com article says kids ages 8-18 spend on average more than seven hours a day on screens. Consider that the American Heart Association recommends just two hours of screen time per day (less for kids under 5.)

So for parents, the dilemma is helping kids balance their digital world with the real world.

But let's be honest, it's not only kids who spend hours on end transfixed with their digital devices. Check out the bleachers during any youth or high school sports event (where the kids are actually socializing and being physically active) and you'll see plenty of parents checking social media or texting. So while we adults are certainly concerned with the amount of screen time our kids are exposed to, we need to be mindful of how our actions influence their behavior.

How you manage your own screen time as a parent is totally up to you, but when it comes to setting limits for your children, you have help.

Microsoft gives parents the ability to set restrictions for their kids on the Xbox One console and Windows 10 devices. A number of options are available, including limiting not only the amount of screen time available but also the hours during which that screen time can occur. Limits are also adjusted based on content ratings and spending limits. One great feature is that a child can request additional time or to purchase a new game, for which a parent's permission is required.

To further the parental options, Microsoft announced today two new settings for cross-network play and communication on Xbox that will first be available for "Fortnite."

According to Microsoft: "This new cross-play update joins the existing list of features that make up family settings on Xbox, which are easy to set up and allow each child to have customized access, so both young and older children can enjoy age-appropriate content. Every Xbox One console comes equipped with family settings, and when used, they offer peace of mind for parents and ensure that gaming is fun and inclusive for everyone in the family."

To take advantage of all of the features of the Xbox family settings, parents will need to set up a child account at account.microsoft.com and link it to their Microsoft account. They will then have access to 15 comprehensive and customizable tools to manage their child's account across four key categories:

  • Screen time management – Limit access to the Xbox One console on school days or provide more gaming time on the weekend.
  • Purchase limits – Parents can approve the purchase of apps and games before they are made.
  • Content filters – Filter or allow games, apps and websites based on the age of each child.
  • Privacy – Parents can select what personal information others can see and who is permitted to engage with their children.

"At the end of the day, communication is the most important tool parents can employ to ensure their
family has a fun and positive gaming experience," states Microsoft. "We encourage parents to have an ongoing dialogue with their children about healthy technology habits and customize their family settings to fit their unique passion for gaming."

If you'd like to learn more about our industry-leading Microsoft family settings and features, visit Xbox.com/family.

Illustration Credit: kbeis/Getty Images

 


Topics: NEWS | PARENTS | VIDEO GAMES | HEALTH | YOUTH SPORTS | XBOX LIVE | XBOX ONE