Today Xbox launched the new Xbox Family Settings app, just in time for the Australian school holidays. The app has been in beta for a few months, and is now finally ready for the public at large.
Although the app is obviously designed for parents, it can also be a handy way to control your own screen time if you’re trying to cut back. Or have a record of how much screen time you’re having so you can make more informed choices (or defend your choices, if required).
Some of the things parents and guardians can do from the app include:
- Creating a child account
- Accepting or rejecting friends the kid wants to add
- View and manage the child’s friend list
- Limit screen time
- Grant the child more screen time (which was apparently a widely requested feature during the beta)
- Set content filters
- Adjust the communication filters to determine if the child account is only allowed to chat with friends
- View daily activity reports
By bringing this kind of control to parents’ phones in a familiar setting, Microsoft hopes parents feel more “empowered to have important conversations about how to balance gaming with other responsibilities,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
Of course, the best way to make sure a child is safe and responsible online is to have open and honest conversations about the risks and rewards, and to play with them. But this potentially iron fist approach is still helpful to have as a backup.
Parental control apps that allow the “parent” to lock people out of screen time always make me a little nervous, because they can be misused for controlling and/or abusive purposes. But this app seems really clear and well designed, putting the emphasis on giving everyone information to make choices, rather than jumping to controls and limits as the default. It seems like it would be great for parents who want to let their kids get involved with this new-fangled gaming, but still have concerns.
Kids who are trying to convince their parents to let them get a next gen console might be smart to show their parents this app. It’ll be compatible with the Xbox Series X|S, and nothing shuts down the argument of “but what if you play so much you ruin your schooling and your life” better than proving they can stop you from doing that.