by on May 28, 2020

New Xbox Family Settings app helps parents monitor screen time for children in lockdown

Microsoft’s Xbox Family Settings app is designed to help parents and guardians monitor children’s activity on the console, which will help in the “new normal” of social distancing and lockdowns.

The app is available in preview on Android and iOS, and is essentially an extension of the Xbox One’s capabilities for Family Settings. Intended to be a “simple and convenient” extra, parents and guardians will be able to act on notifications from the app in real time, like requests from their child to extend the console screen time limit for the day.

The features include: 

  • “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”

Moreover, once officially launched, the app will let parents and guardians view and check their child’s friends list and approve or refuse requests to add new friends through notifications sent to the Xbox Family Settings. And, right now, the app has a switch to toggle access to and multiplayer mode for Minecraft, and if this feature is received well, it could extend to other popular games.

“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,” said Dave McCarthy, corporate vice president of Xbox Operations, in a news post. “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.”

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