3 minute read

How to Set Up Parental Controls on Xbox One

Last Updated: October 23, 2020

Chris McKenna
Chris McKenna

Chris McKenna is a guy with never-ending energy when it comes to fighting for the safety and protection of children. He is the founder of Protect Young Eyes, a leading digital safety organization. Chris practices his internet safety tips on his four amazing children and is regularly featured on news, radio, podcasts, and most recently on Capitol Hill for his research. His 2019 US Senate Judiciary Committee testimony was the catalyst for draft legislation that could radically change online child protection laws. With expertise in social media usage, parental controls, and pornography use in young people, Chris is highly sought after as a speaker at schools and churches. Since 2016, Chris has worked with Covenant Eyes creating educational resources to help individuals and families overcome porn. Other loves include running, spreadsheets, and candy.

Video game systems have come a long way since I was a kid. Now they are basically computers with full access to the world-wide web, which is why parents need to understand how they work.

As a starting point, we recommend having some controls on your home router to block inappropriate content even before you turn on your gaming system. You might look into Open DNS, which is a free filtering service for your home’s router. This, in addition to a few parental controls we’ll explain below, provides a decent double-layer of protection against inappropriate content.

So what about protecting the Xbox One device itself?

Parents, I’m going to start out by saying that Microsoft doesn’t make this easy. There are numerous steps required in order to set up parental controls, but we’re going to do our best to show you step-by-step how it’s done.

Create Microsoft accounts for you and your child if they don’t already exist, and sign in to yours. 

  • Go to xbox.com and click “Sign In” in the upper right corner.
    • If you already have a Microsoft account, you can sign in here.
    • If you don’t, go to “No account? Create one!” where you’ll click, and walk through the account set-up steps. 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.
  • If your child has not already created 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.”
  • In the left menu, click “Microsoft Family,” and then you’ll see a blue button for “Add a child.” At the prompt, type in the e-mail address of the child.
  • 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 family as a child” page. This will take you to a page where you can see the individuals in the same “Family.”
  • 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.
  • Click “Products” in the menu, “Devices & Xbox,” and then “Xbox & Games.” This will take you back to the Xbox homepage you remember from before.
  • 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.
  • Here you should see your own profile and all your children. If you use an Xbox 360, you can go through the different options for “Privacy” or “Xbox One Online Safety” here as well. Go through the different privacy and online options carefully. You might even use each of these discussion points 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.

Finally, enable content filtering directly through the gaming system itself.

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.

Xbox is releasing a new console in December 2016, the Xbox One S, which I’m sure 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.

  • Comments on: How to Set Up Parental Controls on Xbox One
    1. "D"

      My son just bought one of these this month. He is a college student and will be graduating this next spring, then he’s pursuing an additional degree. He will be 21 this coming January and has been a fantastic student, making top grades. I agree, the effects are unbelievable and he was reluctant to tell me that he could play with other people which concerns me. I am also concerned this will become an addiction for him, he’s always been an avid game player but needs to always put his school work first. Can he be sent things from other people via the xbox one? I have monitored the games he has played in the past and they are the typical knight saving the princess themes. I have told him that when he’s 21 I am going to have to back off and let him take even more responsibilities. I will have to get with my wife and him to see about filtering this. Is there a way to put a filter on a Nintendo 3DS? He has one of those and he bought me one for my birthday a few days ago because they can play the old Nintendo games, which I have enjoyed playing. While I was going through it I learned that you can surf the web?! I was not impressed with the internet stuff, but I want to get this filtered for sure. For mine and his safety.

      Thank you so much for updating us on the current technology, I would have never known these things could be used as such. I know I have asked several question, can you or someone shed some light in this area?

      • Chris McKenna

        Hi Donnie – people can’t send him things in the sense I think you mean, like a text message, but it does have access to a web browser, which is the main concern. Like you said, at 21, he’s likely old enough to manage how the device is used. The Nintendo DS has minimal controls – you can read more about those here: http://protectyoungeyes.com/content/nintendo-3ds/

        Peace, Chris (Covenant Eyes)

    2. Jamie

      My husband wants me to set parental controls to prevent the web temptation, but his account is the primary account and cannot be set to a child account *sigh*

    3. Suzi

      My son got around the parental controls by creating a new account and adding his sister’s name as his “parent”. I have confiscated the Xbox until I can figure out how to really child proof it.

    4. Katie

      Hi there- We are trying to install Covenant Eyes on all our home devises. We have a 15 year old boy that has an x-box and we cannot seem to download this protection onto this x-box. How do we make this happen?


      • Moriah Dufrin

        Hi Katie!

        Our software currently does not have the capability to monitor X-box. However, I would highly encourage you to set up the parental controls that Xbox offers.


    5. Mom in IL

      Sadly I don’t see this mentioned anywhere. The internet browser is only a small part of the problem. Someone can literally search “girls” in clubs in community and come up with tons of porn. Videos and pictures. And of course xbox allows us no way to actually remove this from the system. It’s unbelievable how unprotected xbox has become. Please come up with an app to truly protect xbox!

      • Keith Rose

        Hello! Thanks for reaching out. For more current info on Xbox parental controls, I recommend visiting our friends at Protect Young Eyes. PYE stays up-to-date on all the latest parental control and blocking options for different platforms. https://protectyoungeyes.com/devices/xbox-parental-controls/



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