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.