Many parents haven’t given much thought to Xbox parental controls. Plenty of parents don’t know that gaming systems even have parental controls.
Parents often associate laptops and smartphones with online danger. It’s easy to forget that gaming systems expose kids to the same online risks. Like other internet devices, gaming consoles can be portals to pornography, cyberbullying, and even pedophiles seeking access to young victims.
Xbox parental controls exist to help parents make this “all-in-one games and entertainment system” safer for kids. But many parents find the parental controls on Xbox confusing and difficult to set up.
Triple protect gaming
This post will explain what parents need to know in order to make their Xbox gaming console a safe experience for the whole family. First, I will explain the three layers of protection that should be in every home where a gaming system exists. Then, I will walk you step-by-step through the process of creating privacy and filtering settings on the Xbox.
Layer 1: Protect the environment
We aren’t referring to your home’s recycling program or air quality. But, there are certain aspects to the environment where the gaming system is played that are important for creating a safer gaming experience.
For example, as a general rule, internet-ready devices should be kept out of kid’s bedrooms. Kids tend to take more risks in their bedroom than any other room in the house. During my time as a youth ministry director, I never counseled a young man or girl who didn’t struggle with pornography primarily in his/her bedroom. It’s their kingdom – their safe haven, and as a result, they take more risks where they are more comfortable.
Since today’s gaming systems are all connected to the world-wide web, the same risk that exists with an iPhone in the room at midnight exists with the gaming system.
For portable, internet-ready devices, we recommend a nightly “turn-in” time. This might not be practical for a gaming system that is kept in the bedroom, or in a basement. At a minimum, parents might establish a “no games after [insert time]” each night, especially during the summer.
Layer 2: Protect the wireless signal
Is your wireless signal monitored and/or filtered? This can be accomplished a couple of different ways. The easiest way might be through the administrative dashboard on your router, if it was purchased within the last couple of years. This might allow you to enable limited content filtering, time of day access, and create different router profiles (each with a unique password) for each family member.
Alternatively, parents can use a parental control device that works with your router like Circle with Disney.
Parents must not forget that gaming systems allow kids to browse the Internet just like any other internet-ready device, giving them access to anything that Google can find for them. Protection of some kind at the router level provides the additional assurance that if a friend brings a game console into your home, they will not have open access to pornographic content.
Layer 3: Protect the gaming console
Once your home environment and router are protected, you need to protect the Xbox gaming system. In the same way that we recommend enabling device-level controls on an iPhone, we recommend following Microsoft’s complicated steps to restrict user profiles and set gaming console parental controls. We break them down in the steps below. Parents, you CAN DO this! Just take one step at a time.
Xbox Parental Controls: Your Step-by-Step Guide
Xbox Parental Controls: Step 1
First, go to xbox.com and click “Sign in” in the upper right corner as shown below. If you already have a Microsoft account, you can sign in here. If you don’t have an account, go to “No account? Create one!” where you’ll click and walk through the account set-up steps.
Xbox Parental Controls: Step 2
Next, you’ll be asked to verify the e-mail address you used to create the account, so go to your e-mail account, and click “verify [with your e-mail address].” This will sign you in automatically to xbox.com and assign you a random gamertag and profile image, which you can change in the “Customize profile” option.
Xbox Parental Controls: Step 3
If your child does not already have an Xbox account, sign out of your Xbox account and follow the exact same steps to create one for them. Once you’ve created their account, or if they already have an account, it’s time to add them to your family.
From xbox.com, click on your profile picture in the upper right corner, and click “Xbox settings” as shown below.
Xbox Parental: Controls Step 4
In the left menu, click “Microsoft family” as shown below and then you’ll see a blue button for “add a child” (not shown). At the prompt, type in the e-mail address of the child (not shown).
Xbox Parental Controls: Step 5
Now, type the e-mail address your child used to create their account into the box, and click “sign my child in.” You’ll be prompted for a password, and click “sign in,” and then click “yes” on the “Join the family as a child” page shown below. This will take you to a page where you can see the individuals in the same “family.”
Xbox Parental Controls: Step 6
From here, click on the name and profile icon in the upper right corner. Click “sign in with another account” and sign back in to your parent account. As shown below, click “Products” in the menu, “Devices & Xbox,” and then “Xbox & games.” This will take you back to the Xbox homepage you remember from before.
Xbox Parental Controls: Step 7
Click on your profile in the upper right corner, and select “Xbox settings.” This will take you back to the Settings page you remember from before. Click “Privacy & online safety.” You may be asked to enter a security code if you’ve set up 2-step authentication. If not, you’ll see the screen below.
Here you should see your own profile and the profiles for all your children. This is the place where you will be able to decide how much access your child has to the outside world and how much the outside world has access to your child. These settings can completely block the outside world, permit only approved “friends” to interact with your child, or allow anybody (everybody) to make contact.
Xbox Parental Controls: Step 8
Go through the different privacy and online options carefully. With each profile you determine the freedom that person has to accept or block friends.
Parents have the awesome opportunity to use each of these decision points on the Xbox screen to have a discussion with your son or daughter, explaining the reasons why you are leaving certain functionality on or turning things off. Remember, open and honest conversation is so important.
At this point, you’ve set up controls for the gamer profile. The final step in protecting your family is to set up content filtering controls for the hardware/console itself.
Xbox Parental Controls: Step 9
For this stage of setting Xbox parental controls, think of the console as an internet browser. Although you have already set up one level of filtering when you added protection to your router (in layer 2 above), it is wise to also set up content control on the gaming device itself. These Xbox parental controls must be accessed directly on the Xbox console. To make this easy for you, I have broken this last step into micro steps.
On the Xbox One console:
- Scroll left on the Home screen to open the guide.
- Select Settings.
- Select All Settings.
- Under Account, select Family.
- Select the child account that you want to add web filters to.
- Select Web filtering from the options.
- Select the current setting to view all the available options.
- Select the desired level of web filtering. Note: Specific websites can only be added to the “Allow” list in the “Family” section of your Microsoft account.
If you followed all these steps, you have successfully set up your Xbox gaming system in a way that aligns with your family values. Congratulations!
Xbox is releasing a new console in December 2016, the Xbox One S, which will be a popular Christmas gift. With up to 2TB of memory, unbelievable image quality, and the ability to stream anything, it’s a reminder for parents that understanding these gaming devices is critical in any internet safe home.
Screen time is the other issue that parents often bring up, but there’s no magic bullet here. Just pick your standard and stick to it!
The motto of Protect Young Eyes is “parents who are observant, engaged and informed often have kids who learn to use technology well.”
To learn more about how Protect Young Eyes teaches parents the tech savvy they need to know to keep kids safe on the Internet, watch this video:
Chris McKenna has a BA in Accountancy and Spanish from Western Michigan University. After careers in business advising, youth ministry, and church stewardship, Chris just recently became the Educational Resource Manager for Covenant Eyes. This comes on the heels of creating protectyoungeyes.com in 2015 as a resource to equip and educate parents and teens on the latest gadgets, apps, and give them tools for how to use the Internet well.