How to Limit Screen Time on Xbox One

Anyone who plays video games knows how easy it can be lose track of time. Whether you’re scoring headshots in Call of Duty or exploring the world in the latest Zelda, today’s modern games are incredibly immersive. So much so that they can distract you from other responsibilities and obligations. Adults (generally) have the willpower and cognizance to recognize when a gaming session has gone on for too long. But what about kids?

Children can easily lose themselves in their favorite game. This can pose a problem as kids can shun other responsibilities like schoolwork or chores. Of course parents can always break out a stop watch and monitor their kids’ gaming, but who has time for that? Luckily, Microsoft has recognized this problem and come up with a solution.

On March 29th Microsoft unveiled the Creator’s Update for Xbox One. This update included the ability to set limits on your child’s Xbox account, including when it was okay to play and for how long. This is very similar to the child account limitations in Windows 10. Obviously, this new feature is a blessing for parents who don’t want to watch their child’s Xbox usage like a hawk. That being said, it does require a bit of configuration. Fortunately, we’re here to walk you through it.

First, some basic housekeeping. You’ll want to prevent your kids from accessing your account and changing your settings. To do this, you’ll need to add a password or passkey to your parent account. Head to “Settings -> All Settings -> Account -> Sign in, security & passkey” and select “Change my sign-in and security preferences.”

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Here you can select “Ask for my passkey” or “Lock it down.” Selecting “Ask for my passkey” will require anyone attempting to sign in to your account to provide a PIN. “Lock it down” requires users to provide your Microsoft account username and password, which is also known as “going nuclear”. Which one you choose is going to depend on how clever your kids are.

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Note: If you haven’t already created a passkey, your Xbox will prompt you to do so. The passkey consists of six digits, with each digit corresponding to a button on your controller. Once you’re done, sign out of your account. If you attempt to sign in again you will be prompted to provide the six-digit passkey.

With your account under lock and key, you can now set out to create accounts for your children. You will need to set up a separate account for each child that is going to be using the Xbox. If your children already have their own account for the Xbox, you can skip this step.

Using your Xbox, navigate to “Settings -> All Settings -> Account -> Family.” Here you will see a list of accounts associated with your Xbox One. If your child already has his/her own account, select it from the list. If not, select “Add New.” At this point you will have to enter the child’s Microsoft account. If he or she doesn’t have one, you can select “Get New Account” to create one. Alternatively, you can create one online.

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If you already have child accounts associated with your Microsoft account (You may have created them for Windows 10.), you should see the accounts here. You can simply add the child’s account to the Xbox by selecting the account and choosing “Add [account holder’s name] to this Xbox.”

With your parental and child accounts properly configured, you can now start setting limits on your children’s Xbox usage. While you can configure privacy settings and other parental controls from within the Xbox interface, the “screen time” feature can only be accessed via the Microsoft Family website.

Log in to the Microsoft Family website with your parental account. Under “Family members” you should see the children’s accounts associated with your Xbox One. Underneath each child’s name there is a link labeled “Screen Time.” Clicking on this link will list the devices associated with that child’s account. Under “Xbox Screen Time” toggle “Set limits for when my child can use devices” to “On.”

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Next, you will be able to configure the time limits you want to impose upon that child’s account. You will be able to set a “daily allowance” and specific periods of time in which they will be able to use the device. You will also be able to set different parameters for each day of the week. For example, you can limit their playing time to a maximum of two hours on weekdays between 5pm and 9pm. On weekends you could opt for unlimited access. Once you decide what is appropriate for your child, the changes go into effect immediately. Be aware that each child’s account is separate, meaning you will have to configure limits for each individual child.

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If the child attempts to use the Xbox One console outside your set parameters, they will be confronted with an onscreen message. To continue playing, they will need to get your permission. If you approve, you will have to log in with your parental account to override the restriction and add additional screen time.

Do you use Microsoft’s “Screen Time” feature? If not, how do you manage your children’s gaming habits? Let us know in the comments!

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