Microsoft’s parental controls are getting an update to rival those of Google and Apple. Previously, Microsoft allowed parents to limit screen time depending on the device. They are now expanding their parental control feature so that parents can manage screen time per-app or per-game.
“Ultimately, our goal is for the app and game limits feature to provide flexible and customizable tools to meet each family’s unique needs. You as parents know what’s best for your children — no technology can ever replace that — but we’re hoping these tools can help you to strike the right balance,” Mouna Sidi Hida, Product and Strategy Lead at Microsoft, wrote in their announcement.
With the old parental control features, kids could get an hour of Xbox One and three hours on the computer. However, kids were left to pursue whatever activity they wanted to. They could spend an hour playing a game on one device, then switch to another device to play the same game.
Advocates for kids’ screen time emphasize that not all screen time is detrimental. Microsoft and other tech giants allow parents to decide what apps their kids can use, and for how long. Games and apps that are seen as more addictive and less fulfilling can see larger screen time limits, while educational apps can get more screen time.
Parents will no longer have to worry about their child using up their two-hour limit of computer time on the latest addictive game when they can cap the use for every app. Likewise, kids won’t be able to simply switch devices to continue playing the same game once they’ve reached the set screen time limit.
In order to use the updated parental controls, parents need to create a family group and make Microsoft accounts for each child. Kids will get warnings of their screen time limit 15 minutes before the limit is reached, and again 5 minutes before. Parents can make necessary changes with emails or through Microsoft Launch on their personal Android phones.
The parental controls update can now be used across Windows 10, Xbox and Android devices running Microsoft Launcher.
Microsoft hopes that the latest features benefit the use of technology within the home. Hida wrote, “…we encourage parents to have an open conversation with their children about their use of technology, how to empower them to learn and grow, connect with family and friends, play games and have fun; and at the same time, place guardrails to help them stay focused on their goals.”