If you’ve treated the kids in your household to an Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S, you’ll of course want them to have fun — but you’ll also want to put limits on what they can do on the console, especially if they’re younger children.
These consoles are built with all the necessary options for adding child profiles and managing what those profiles can do. The features all tie into a larger Microsoft Family Safety feature that works across multiple devices, and it’s free to use as part of your existing Microsoft (and Xbox) account.
The level of detail you can go into is impressive, right down to which specific websites your child can look at. If you don’t want to configure every option individually, there are preset profiles you can choose from.
Setting up Microsoft Family Safety
Before you can manage parental controls on the Xbox, you need to tell Microsoft who’s in your family. These family settings then apply across all of the Microsoft products you use, including Windows and Office.
To begin with, you need to log in to your Microsoft account page on the web. (While you can do this on your console, it’s much easier to do on a computer with access to a mouse and keyboard.)
- Click View your family.
- Choose Add a family member to add someone new. Families can have up to six people in them.
- Each child will need their own Microsoft account to log in to. If you haven’t set one up previously, choose Create an account; otherwise, enter the login credentials.
- Having either created an account for your child or logged in to one, it’ll now appear on your family dashboard. Click the three dots at the top right of any profile to bring up a menu enabling you to change its profile picture and see recent activity. To set parental controls, choose Go to overview.
The options here apply across all of the devices that your child logs in to using their Microsoft account, including phones, laptops, and consoles. However, options for the Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S won’t appear until you’ve connected a console.
Adding your child on the Xbox
- From your own user account on the Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S, open the Settings screen by selecting the cog icon at the top of the homescreen.
- Select Account > Family settings.
- Pick Manage family members, pick your child, then select Add to this Xbox console.
- Enter the password for the child’s account.
You’ll then be prompted to sign in to your own account. You can either enter your login credentials on the Xbox console or have an email sent to your phone or laptop so you can sign in on those devices instead.
Once your child has been added, the parental controls for the Xbox are active. Some of them can be managed through the console, while others can be set via the Family Safety page on the webpage we looked at earlier or through the Microsoft Family Safety apps for Android or iOS.
It’s a good idea to set a PIN up for your user account on the Xbox to prevent your child from simply switching user accounts. To do this:
- Open up Settings.
- Select Account > Sign-in, security & PIN.
Managing parental controls on the Xbox
To edit parental controls directly on the Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S:
- Open Settings via the cog icon at the top of the homescreen.
- Choose Account > Family settings > Manage family members.
Select your child from the list. You’ll then see a list of options to pick from.
- Select Access to content to put age restrictions on games, movies, and other content on the Xbox.
- Select Web filtering to manage what your child can access through the Xbox web browser — you can set up a specific list of allowed sites if needed.
- Select Privacy & online safety > Message safety to filter content out of the internal Xbox messaging service or to block it entirely.
- Select Privacy & online safety > Xbox privacy to find the bulk of the parental controls.
When you go through the Xbox privacy menu, if you’re in a hurry, you can pick from some default settings Microsoft has created: child, teen, or adult. Choose any of these options, and the restrictions associated with them are listed on the right.
To manage these restrictions in more detail, choose View details & customize. This opens up another list of options.
- Online status & history covers settings such as who else can see when your child is online and what they’ve been playing.
- Profile includes controls over who can see your child’s real name and profile picture.
- Friends & clubs lets you set whether your child can add friends and join clubs on the Xbox console.
- Communication & multiplayer covers voice and text communication with other people and access to multiplayer games.
- Game content controls whether screenshots can be shared and livestreams can be initiated from this account.
- Sharing outside of Xbox lets you set options for sharing content in other places, such as social media networks.
- Buy & download covers the privileges your child has when it comes to buying games and content through the console.
Managing parental controls on the web or in the app
The main parental control setting you can’t configure on the actual Xbox is screen time limits. For some reason known only to Microsoft, this has to be accessed through the Family Safety page or the Android or iOS apps. (Technically speaking, you can access the Family Safety page through the Xbox web browser, but it’s a clunky experience.)
- On the web, click the three dots next to your child’s profile.
- Go to overview > Screen time.
- Tap the child’s profile, then Manage next to Screen time.
The options are fairly straightforward. You can split them up by device (e.g., Xbox and Windows PC) or have the same screen time limits apply across every platform. You can set the total number of screen time hours as well as specific times when a device can’t be used, and these settings can be different on different days if necessary. You can also manually lock and unlock access to specific devices.
The website and apps give you reports on your child’s activity, including how much time they’ve spent gaming and any purchases they’ve made. The same parental controls available on the Xbox can be found on the web and in the apps, too, covering limits on age ratings for games and specific sites that can or can’t be accessed through a browser.