Culture

Parents can now remotely cut off their kids' Xbox playtime

The company says it's been one of the most frequently requested features in recent months.

Back rear view photo of girlfriend playing video game with their friends speaking with them in front of keyboard
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To help parents introduce some discipline in the house, Microsoft has launched enhanced family settings.

One of the new features includes a pause button that allows you to stop a game in the middle if you think your kid needs some off-screen time. The screen will cut to "Your screen time is up" which sounds a lot more practical than a yelling match between the demand of "Turn your computer off!" and the response of, "In a minute!"

The company says its new family setting allows parents to see how much time their progeny has spent on Xbox as well as Windows. Parents can add more time, filter content and friends lists, see which programs junior has been using, and for how long they've been on various gaming, streaming, or social media platforms. Parents will doubtless love it. We expect their offspring will be less enthusiastic about the new controls.

Power to the parents.Microsoft

Why now? — Microsoft is expanding parental control for users during unique circumstances. The previous iteration of family settings for Xbox and Windows mainly worked under the premise that your children won't be online all the time. They would presumably have to go to school, hang out with friends outside of your house, and have other non-video gaming activities (though Fortnite seems to have ruined that). The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns radically altered how children spend their time. Similarly, the lives of their adult counterparts have been turned upside down.

Now millions of people, young and old, find themselves primarily at home, and frequently online. To inject these unexpected circumstances with some degree of control and normalcy, Microsoft's new family setting gets more serious about the "control" part of "parental control."

No more wasting money — In addition to a pause button, Microsoft is introducing a permission-based feature for buying products online. So, from now on, if your child wants to purchase something online and they don't have sufficient funds in their digital wallets, they will have to go through Microsoft's "Ask to Buy" route.

If the youthful user wants to procure something online, Microsoft will reach out to parents and inform them that their youthful charge "wants help buying" a product. Those wanting to teach their young ones restraint can disable the buying option altogether. Alternatively, they can approve purchases on an individual basis.