Your Guide to the Xbox 360 Family Settings

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For those who have it, you know that the Xbox 360 can be a great media device in your home, especially if you have Xbox Live. Not only can your child play games (both downloadable and retail), but they can enjoy these games with people from around the world. You can also use the Xbox as a streaming device for music, pictures, and Netflix; and the new dashboard also gives members instant access to their Twitter and Facebook accounts if they have one. 

Because the Xbox is such a dynamic media center, it’s become an obvious avenue for cyberbullying, sexting, stalking, and quite frankly, inappropriate interaction.  In fact, according to a representative from the National Center for Missing and Exploited children, an ICAC (Internet Crimes Against Children) law enforcement team arrested and charged a 21-year-old male for child pornography.  Apparently he used video chat capability to create child pornography from those he met on Xbox Live. 

An avid gamer in the Yoursphere offices has experienced being sent messages from other players that included explicit pictures of private parts as well as solicitations to “win video time” with another player’s girlfriend. With more than 20 million Xbox Live members in 2009 (a number that I’m sure has gone up), it’s become an environment that necessitates activating the Xbox’s Family Settings, or as I like to say, the “safety controls”. 

There are a number of things you can do to protect them when they’re using their Xbox so that they can have a safe and positive experience. The Xbox product is a great gaming system after all. I know my boys love it.  The first thing, of course, is making sure that your child doesn’t post any personally identifiable information on their profiles.  This includes Bio and Motto.  And the other thing—and most importantly—is knowing the ins and outs of the Family Settings. 

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it:

First – on the main dashboard, go to the tab called “My Xbox”


Then scroll all the way over to the box called “System Settings”


From here you want to click on Family Settings


Then click on Console Controls – This is the main interface where you’ll manage all different sections of the family settings.  Each category is explained in detail below.


Console Controls > Game Ratings – here you can set the maximum game rating that anyone can play on the Xbox without parental approval.


Console Controls > Video Ratings – same thing, just for DVDs – as well as block or allow unrated DVDs

  Step6   Step7

Console Controls > XBOX Live access – allow or block altogether. Blocking prevents your child from using ANY Xbox Live feature, i.e. online gaming, Netflix, Zune, and chatting with friends.


Console Controls > XBOX Live Membership Creation – allows you to block or allow people from creating new memberships on the console.

Console Controls > Restricted Content – gives you the option to show or hide content based on your family settings. Assuming that you want to block the content that you’ve previously restricted in the previous steps, you can just select “Hide Restricted Content”.  If you select “Show All Content”, then a password will be required when your child tries to access content that exceeds the family settings.


Console Controls > Family Timer – here you can set weekly and daily time limits that someone can be logged into their Xbox account. 


Console Controls > Set Pass Code – This just ties everything up in a neat little bow.  Set a password that only YOU know. That way the family settings can’t be changed by anybody but you.


Once you’ve done that, select the “Done” button and select “Yes, save changes” – This finalizes the whole process and activates the settings you just selected.


If you set a family timer, you should immediately see a pop-up that indicates a countdown.  Also, you can test the family settings by running a game that exceeds the rating that you allowed previously. If the game is rated higher than what you allowed, then you’ll see a pop-up asking for your pass code.

That’s it!  You now know everything about the Family Settings on your Xbox 360.  Now pass it on!

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