Microsoft launches Xbox Family Settings app to manage children's gaming habits

Last year, Microsoft made it easier for parents to manage how much time children spend gaming on Windows 10 and Xbox, thanks in part to a system update for the Xbox One. These settings could be applied to Windows 10, Xbox, and Android devices, but to set those limits, you'd need to go through the Microsoft Family portal on the web. Today, Microsoft is announcing Xbox Family Settings, a new app for mobile devices that makes it possible to set limits and restrictions for Xbox gaming using a phone.

The app lets parents set a number of rules, starting with screen time limits, which can be individually set for each day of the week. It's also possible to enforce content filters so children can only play games fit for their age, and online play and communication can be turned on, enabled only with friends, or disabled altogether. The app will also send parents daily and weekly activity reports about their children's gaming time. The app apparently has a setting specifically to make it easier to enable online play in Minecraft, since that game has a child-friendly rating.

If a child wants a little extra time to play, they can ask for it, and parents will be able to allow or deny the request through a notification in the app. Later this year, these notifications can also be used to approve friend requests for the children, and the app will include the ability to manage a child's friends list.

The Xbox Family Settings app is available in preview for both iOS and Android, with a full release later this year. It comes in addition to the Family Safety app that was also released in preview earlier this month, though that one has a broader range of features.

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