The much-beloved game Animal Crossing New Horizons was released for Nintendo Switch on March 20, 2020. Then, the whole world shut down. It was perfect timing as global shelter-in-place guidelines became the new normal. Animal Crossing Pocket Camp, a free version for mobile devices, has also seen a surge in users. As with many social interaction games and children, there’s the question of safety and privacy. So, here are the Animal Crossing New Horizons parental controls.
How Safe Is Animal Crossing?
Whether you have an island in New Horizons on your console or Switch, or you have a campsite in the scaled-down version Pocket Camp, Animal Crossing does not require interaction with other players. The virtual world has seasons and natural resources. You can design and decorate your environment, solve puzzles, and take care of your animals to create a fully customized hideaway of your own. This beautifully-rendered world is the perfect respite from the tedium and uncertainty many people are feeling.
Letting your child or teen immerse themselves in an environment with simple tasks that are creative and peaceful sounds lovely. But how safe is this world? Can strangers access your kid’s island or campsite? Should they want friends, and how do they find them?
It’s true that adults are using Animal Crossing as a virtual dating site, and it’s being used in online profiles for sites like Tinder. Knowing this, how safe is paradise for kids?
Build Your Fantasy World
Animal Crossing requires a Nintendo profile. Once you have one, you can build your world. In Pocket Camp, users cannot text with one another, which can be an added layer of security for parents. However, New Horizons does have a communication tool that allows for conversations.
- Social interaction requires knowing a person’s ID — an 11 digit number that is specific to each player. Tell your kids not to give this out unless it’s to someone they know.
- The game will suggest players to befriend.
- You can also look for someone if you know their username or ID.
In both of the above cases, if you feel like your child is mature enough to friend someone online, have a conversation about it. Make sure they’re using wise judgment.
Setting Up Parental Controls in Animal Crossing
Parental Controls on a Nintendo Switch are found in Sytems Settings (see downloadable PDF below). These controls restrict all users of the device equally.
Parental controls can also be found on a player’s Nintendo Account website. There, you can change personal information as well as limit game time and restrict access to content and purchases.
A parent’s Nintendo user account can link to multiple smart devices and set controls for each one separately. The Nintendo Parental Control App for iOS and Android enable parental controls on up to three smart devices.
Master of Your Own Child’s Domain
Animal Crossing has long been a game that offers each user their own customizable habitat, full of decor, plants to grow and harvest, and animals to care of and befriend. Whether you choose to keep your world to yourself or invite friends for a play date, you get to control how you interact in the game.
For parents, it’s good to know that interactions are at the discretion of the user and not the game. With a few simple steps, you can use parental controls to help guide your child in this virtual paradise without fear of inappropriate interactions.