AS a gaming parent, I spent a lot of time explaining to my primary school-aged kids that some of the games I play simply aren’t suitable for them.
Obviously we can all enjoy something like Fall Guys and I’ve made the decision I’m OK with my kids playing games like Warcraft III Reforged and Civilization VI too.
That all goes right out the window when it comes to things like Doom or Wolfenstein or Grand Theft Auto V, however.
My kids are pretty good and know if I say “Don’t play that, it’s not suitable and will give you nightmares” they don’t play it. But as they get older they may decide they want to see for themselves (or simply play on the system when they should be doing their homework), and other parents have different ideas about what games are and are not OK for their kids – and the struggle to keep on top of that can be challenging for many parents.
Not content with buying one of the biggest video game companies in existence, Microsoft have announced that today they are also launching the Xbox Family Settings App for free on Android and iOS.
According to Microsoft, the app “the app empowers parents to customize their child’s gaming right from their phone” and that “Right from their phone, parents and caregivers can easily create child accounts, update screen time limits, respond to notifications, and much more. It’s an easy and simple way to set guardrails on children’s gaming on Xbox One and, come November 10, on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S.”
Notably, some of the features the new app will offer include
- Tailoring screen time limits – For example, limit gaming to one hour a day during the school week.
- Setting content filters – Specify your child’s age to make sure an 8-year old can only access suitably rated games.
- Manage a child’s friends – Parents or caregivers can approve or deny people their child wants to add as friends.
- View activity reports – Parents/caregivers can receive daily and weekly activity reports to understand how their child is spending their time on the 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.
Microsoft reportedly received positive feedback on this feature from users and have indicated they may include similar functionality for other games in the future.
Xbox corporate vice president Dave McCarthy said it was important to recognise every parent needed to be able to decide what the right level of gaming access was for their children and customise that to suit their family.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
As my kids become more interested in exploring online gaming I can see this being a very useful app indeed – as, I’m sure, will countless other parents out there too.
For more information about the Xbox Family Settings app, visit Xbox.com/family-app.