Gaming has long been a significant source of joy, inspiration, and social connection for players around the world, and social distancing has made this truer now than ever before. With the holiday break on the horizon, many parents and caregivers may be looking for ways to help balance screen time and family time. We know achieving this balance is important to families. That is why earlier this fall, we launched the Xbox Family Settings app for free on iOS and Android. Today, we are taking the next step on our journey to support families by introducing two new app features for child accounts on Xbox Live.
Pause Screen Time
The ability to pause screen time has been our number-one requested feature from parents and caregivers. Today, we are happy to add the Pause Screen Time feature to the app, which empowers parents to temporarily pause screen time for their children’s accounts – even if they have more screen time available for the day.
Whether the feature is used to reinforce asks to set the table for dinner or to make sure homework is completed, this feature will block children from their account until parents decide it’s time to play again, or until the block expires at the end of the day. Children will see the standard “Your screen time is up” notification on their screen when parents press pause, and once parents decide play can resume, the preestablished rules for game time will take effect.
Ask to Buy
As we head into the holidays, it makes sense that children might want to purchase new games to play. We saw that our Ask to Buy feature – which is currently available via family settings on Xbox via console and PC – helps parents manage their children’s spending. So, we brought the feature to the Xbox Family Settings App so parents can manage from their phone.
If the setting is on, when children choose a game they would like to purchase, a request will be sent to the parent’s phone. This notification will include a link to where they can learn more about the game before approving or declining the purchase. The app will also list approved purchases so parents can keep track of recent purchases.
We hope that this feature helps take one more thing off the plates of busy parents everywhere.
These two features join the existing app’s functionality, which helps to tailor each child’s access to Xbox:
- Screen time limits – set limits for each day of the week; for example, you can allow for more game time on the weekends or reduce it during the school week. And a new feature available today allows parents to proactively grant additional screen time – a great option if they did well on a test or completed their homework!
- Content filters – set filters based on the age of each child; for example, an 8-year-old can only access games that are rated E and will be blocked from accessing titles that are intended for more mature players.
- Play and communication settings – choose the option to 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.”
- Friends list – new with the app is the ability to approve or decline friend requests your child has made to add friends; parents can also view their friends list.
- Activity reports – view daily and weekly activity reports for each child to understand how they are spending their time on Xbox.
Gaming is a great way to keep in touch with friends and family and have fun throughout the year, but it should also be part of a balanced lifestyle. We hope the Xbox Family Settings app will empower parents to have conversations about the right amount of gaming and appropriate content with their children. We’ll continue to update the Xbox Family Settings app to ensure that it meets the needs of today’s families and help everyone to enjoy fun and age-appropriate gaming.
For more information about the Xbox Family Settings app, visit Xbox.com/family-app.
Microsoft is committed to empowering families to set boundaries and encourage responsible technology use by offering choices on the tools that are right for each family’s unique needs – learn more here.