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Your Guide to the Xbox 360 Family Settings

| October 6, 2010 | Comments (6)
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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”

Step1

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

Step2

From here you want to click on Family Settings

Step3

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.

Step4

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

Step5

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.

Step8

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.

Step9

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

Step10

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.

Step11

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.

Step13

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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Category: Safety, Tech Benefits, Tutorials

Comments (6)

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  1. mary kay says:

    You’ll definitely have to call their customer support line: (800) 4MY-XBOX. Make sure when you call, you’re in front of the Xbox so they can guide you through the proper steps of either resetting your password, or restoring it to factory settings. Either way, they won’t be able to help you much if you’re not near the Xbox.
    Good luck!

  2. bailey says:

    i forgot my code and my question answer what do i do

  3. Mary Kay says:

    Hi Shari,
    Thanks for commenting. Yes, you can disable video chat on the Kinect via the Family Settings.
    See http://www.xbox.com/en-US/Kinect/PrivacyandOnlineSafety#video2
    This shouldn’t have an affect on playing games on Xbox Live. It will just disable the function of video communication. Hope this helps!
    Also, I encourage you to read this post. It may answer a few more questions for you about the Kinect. http://internet-safety.yoursphere.com/2010/12/online-safety-tips-for-your-kids-holiday-gifts.html
    Happy Holidays,
    Mary Kay

  4. Shari says:

    Can you set the Family Settings for the Kinect (blocking the video chat) while still allowing them to play live?

  5. Mary Kay says:

    Ruth –
    I’m SO SO SO glad to hear you say this.
    I encourage you to tell your son “why”, in age appropriate detail if you can.
    We didn’t let our kids ride a bike without a helmet, so why would we let them use the Xbox (or others) without a helmet once we were given one!
    Thank you for your support, Ruth.
    Best.
    Mary Kay

  6. Ruth Tyger says:

    This is such a good thing you are doing, I especially love this article now I can set my son’s XBox tomorrow when he is in school. Thank you so much!

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