Safer Internet Day: Xbox One family settings aim to empower parents and kids

Xbox One X review controller in front
Mike Epstein/Digital Trends

Microsoft has just made a small but notable improvement to its suite of Xbox One family settings. Up until now, parents or guardians had to enter their credit card information to finish creating a Microsoft account for their child. Replacing that method is an e-signature, which is both convenient and limits the amount of sensitive information you must share.  The change is a fitting one given that today is Safer Internet Day, the annual initiative day that’s aimed at helping everyone use tech in a safe and effective manner.

As part of the initiative, Dave McCarthy, Xbox operations president, appeared on a panel called “Youth and Tech Industry Issues in Perspective” alongside representatives from Google and Facebook at 1:30 p.m. PT on Tuesday, February 5.

Ahead of the panel, we spoke with Henry Ipince, Microsoft senior program manager. Ipince leads Microsoft’s drive to create products and settings that are safe for both parents and children. Microsoft offers more than 20 settings on Xbox One to help make gaming a safe place for children of all ages. And at the moment, what are kids obsessed with? Fortnite, of course.

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With the rise of this type of cross-platform play, Microsoft decided to add new cross-platform and cross-network communication features. “There was demand for this feature, with kids wanting to play games across networks. So our approach was to enable the setting in such a way that it would give more peace of mind to parents, so that they could manage the setting to their unique needs,” Ipince said. As of now, parents can enable or block both cross-platform play and cross-network communication in Fortnite. Microsoft anticipates more games to follow this trend.

Xbox One also supports broader parental controls, including content filters on which games kids are allowed to play, what they’re allowed to download/buy, and even screen time limits. Microsoft doesn’t want the settings to feel overly restrictive.

“We are committed to empowering kids as well, to play an active role in learning healthy digital habits. So we try to build our features in a way that we are transparent, and it allows and facilitates a dialogue where children can become a part of that discussion as well,” Ipince said. For instance, kids can make requests for additional screen time, ask to play a restricted game, or make a purchase through prompts on Xbox One.

“One of these allows a suspended player to see the specific behavior which led to a suspension, with the goal of improving understanding of what is appropriate when gaming,” Microsoft said in a press release.

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