How to Use Xbox One Parental Controls

Limiting screentime, online play, and digital purchases is pretty easy

Xbox One has free built-in parental controls that you can use to keep track of what video game your kids are playing and how long they're spending each day playing on the console.

These child monitoring features can also limit the types of Xbox video games that they can buy and play in addition to placing restrictions on some online web browsing. To set up parental controls, parents much create an Xbox account for each of their kids, which includes disclosing their ages.

Once a child turns 18 (in the U.S.) Xbox considers them an adult and automatically removes all limitations. You cannot monitor an adult's account.

Here's everything you need to know before letting kids play their first video game on an Xbox One console.

Managing a Child's Xbox Account With Family Settings

Microsoft provides a free service for families that allow parents to monitor and place limits on a child's account on Xbox One consoles.

To use this service, at least one parent must first log in with their own Xbox or Microsoft account on the Xbox One console.

Xbox and Microsoft accounts are exactly the same thing. If you have an account that you use for Skype, Outlook, or some other Microsoft-owned service, you can log into an Xbox with it.

After this is done, they can then invite their child's account to become part of the family group. Once they're added, you'll be able to limit their play time, what sort of games they can play, and their ability to purchase new titles.

If you've already set up Windows 10 Parental Controls with your child, you don't need to do anything further. You can manage their Xbox One gaming from the same control panel. Remember, Xbox and Microsoft accounts are the same.

How to Add a Child to a Family Group on Xbox One

  1. Have your child sign in to their account on the Xbox One as usual.

    It's possible that they may already be signed in. You can check if they are by checking the user list in the far-left pane of the Guide which can be opened by pressing the Xbox logo button on your controller.

  2. Sign into your account on the Xbox One console.

    The Xbox One allows multiple users to be logged in at the same time. Do not log anyone out.

  3. Press the Xbox logo on your controller to open the Guide.

    Xbox One dashboard and Guide.
  4. Scroll to the far-right pane and highlight Settings. Press A on your controller.

    Xbox One dashboard and Guide.
  5. From the Account settings page, highlight Family settings and press A.

    Xbox One Family Settings.
  6. An option called Add a child should appear at the bottom of the menu. Highlight it and press A.

    Xbox One Family Settings.

    If the option to Add a child doesn't appear, it's likely that your child's account has been registered as an adult account. This can happen when the date of birth entered during the signup process places them over the age of 18.

    It is impossible to revert an adult account to a child account after it's been set up. Even if you manually change the date of birth in the account settings. The only solution for this problem is to create an entirely new account from scratch.

  7. Select your child's account and press A once again.

    Xbox One Family Settings.
  8. You'll be presented with a confirmation screen. Highlight Add to family and press A.

Xbox One Child Account Options

Once the child's account has been added to your family on the Xbox One, you can manage almost every aspect of the account by going to Settings > Account > Family settings > Manage family members and exploring each of these three sections.

Xbox One Family Settings
  • Privacy & online safety: This section will have options for controlling what games and apps they can download and play, whether they can show that they're online to others, the display options for their real name, and app privacy features.
  • Access to content: This setting lets you add age restrictions on rated games and other media. For example, you can restrict their account to accessing content appropriate for 12 year olds only.
Xbox One Family Settings
  • Web filtering: Web filtering is used to restricting which websites they can access when using a web browser on Windows 10, Android, or on an Xbox One console. Here you can limit access to specific websites or even ban browsing completely.
Xbox One Family Settings

Other Reasons to Give Children an Xbox Account

To buy, download, and play video games on an Xbox One console, an Xbox account is needed. It can be tempting to use the one account for the entire family but savvy gamers give each user their own unique Xbox account for the following reasons.

  • Video game progress and accomplishments are saved to individual Xbox accounts. Giving each member of your family their own Xbox account can help prevent the overwriting of someone else's save data.
  • Having everyone's Xbox friends connected to the one account can be very confusing for online play as the online friends will have no idea which member of the family is actually playing.
  • It's impossible to transfer game data to another account. This means that if your child uses your Xbox account to play Minecraft or Fortnite on Xbox One they'll have to start from scratch whenever they make their own account in the future.
  • An Xbox account is also a Microsoft account and is used for programs and services such as Outlook, Skype, and Office. It's also used for downloading apps from the Windows 10 Microsoft Store app store. Once set up, the same login email and password can be used for all services. Most children will likely need a Microsoft account by the time they start high school so it can be a good idea to create one now so that they can learn how to use it.
  • By giving each child their own account, you'll be able to monitor how much time they spend playing games and what games they play. You can also enable and disable certain privacy settings and account restrictions.