Microsoft’s Xbox Family Settings App is a new way for parents and guardians to manage how their children spend their gaming time. Available in preview today on Android and iOS, the app lets parents keep tabs and set limits on how their children use Xbox One consoles and, to a lesser extent, Windows 10 PCs.
Using the app, parents can create child accounts, set limits on screen time on a per-day basis, filter content based on their child’s age, and view daily and weekly activity reports on how their children are spending their gaming time. They can also adjust who their children can communicate with, along with the option to limit this to friends only, for example. In the case of Minecraft, Microsoft has included an option for parents to toggle online play with friends on or off, and it says it may add similar functionality for more games in the future.
Many of these controls aren’t new, but the app is a more convenient way to manage play time compared to having to log in to Microsoft’s web portal. Having an app on their phone means parents can also respond more directly to their children’s play requests. They’ll get real-time notifications when children want to extend console screen time, and in the future, Microsoft plans to let parents approve or decline their children’s friend requests from the app.
The Xbox Family Settings app appears to be separate from Microsoft’s Family Safety app, which launched in preview earlier this month. While the Xbox Family Settings app is aimed at giving parents granular control over gaming time on Xbox and Windows 10, the Family Safety app is much more general. It lets you see where your family is located, and it also includes screen time on Android phones, which aren’t covered by the new app.