How to set up parental controls on your Xbox


This step-by-step guide shows you how to ensure that children can enjoy gaming without the risk of being exposed to inappropriate content.

by Rune H. Rasmussen

The Xbox 360 gaming console has several features that allow you to manage and control which kind of content your children have access to. With Xbox LIVE, a wide variety of entertainment is available, including online gaming, TV shows and films. In order to make sure that your children are safe while still having fun, it is useful to know how you can customise your children’s Xbox experience. 

First and foremost, it is important to know that it is possible to create separate accounts for each family member, and to customise your children’s account (and you own) in accordance with their age, level of maturity and your own wishes. The default online safety and privacy settings are divided into three age groups: child profile, teen profile and adult profile. Xbox LIVE determines which default safety and privacy settings to use based on the birth date that is entered when an Xbox LIVE account is created. However, you are free to change the settings in any way you like in order to ensure that your child is given the appropriate limitations as well as opportunities when using the Xbox. All changes require that you enter a 4-button pass code, so it is a good idea to keep this code secret from your children.

The parental controls allow you to limit:

  • Ratings and Content: You can decide which games can be played and which films and TV shows that can be watched based on the content's rating. You can also set whether or not unrated or explicit content can be played on the console.
    (Note: It is possible to set up exceptions for individual games)
  • Family Timer: This setting allows you to limit the time that your console can be used on a daily or weekly basis.
  • Xbox LIVE Access: This setting allows you to decide if your family can connect to Xbox LIVE from the console.
  • Xbox LIVE Membership Creation: This setting allows you to control whether or not new Xbox LIVE memberships can be created from your console.

In the Xbox, parental controls are divided into two groups: console controls and online safety and privacy.

Console controls

Console controls are located in the Family Settings or Family Center (depending on which Xbox LIVE membership you have):

  • On your console, go to Settings, then select Family.
    (Note: If the Settings option is missing, you might be using an older version of the console software. Click the following link for information on how to Update your Xbox 360 console software.)
  • Select On to turn on Console Safety.
  • Enter your 4-button pass code using your controller.
  • Select Save and Exit.

To change your pass code:

  • On your console, go to Settings, then select Family.
  • Enter your 4-button pass code.
  • Select Change Pass Code.
    (Note: If you have not set a pass code you can do so on the Console Controls menu by selecting Set Pass Code).
  • Select Change Pass Code again.
  • Enter a new 4-button pass code twice.
  • Select Done.
  • Select Save and Exit.

How to limit games played by age rating:

  • On your console, go to Settings, then select Family.
  • Select Ratings and Content.
  • Now, you can set the appropriate age restrictions for games, films and TV shows.
  • When you are done, select Save and Exit.

How to set the Family Timer
The family timer can be used to limit the amount of time that your children can use the console on a daily or weekly basis. You can see how much time remains by pressing the Guide button on the Xbox controller. Notifications will appear 1 hour, 30 minutes, 15 minutes and 5 minutes before the time runs out (when these notifications appear, you may add time or disable the timer by pressing the Guide button and entering the pass code – so once again, don’t let your children know the code). When the time expires, the console shuts down and can't be used again until the Family Timer automatically resets the next day or week.

  • On your console, go to Settings, and then select Family.
  • Make sure Console Safety is turned On.
  • Enter your 4-button pass code using your controller.
  • Select Family Timer.
  • Select whether you want to set a Daily or Weekly timer.
  • Move down to the time period and use the left stick to increase or decrease the time period, then select Continue.
  • Select Save and Exit.

Online safety and privacy

Xbox LIVE offers a variety of online safety and privacy settings, and allows you to customise the settings to whatever is best for you and your children. As mentioned above, the default settings are set in accordance with which kind of account is created; child, teen or adult profile.

How to change the safety and privacy settings for your child or teenager:

  • Sign into Xbox LIVE using an adult account.
  • Go to Settings and then select Family.
  • Select the child or teen account that you want to manage.
  • Go to Online Safety and then select Change Settings.
  • Change the settings to whatever you’d like.
  • To exit, press the B button on your controller and then choose Save and Exit.

Now, there is a wide variety of settings that can be changed in different ways, way too many for all of them to be included here. An overview is available at Xbox’s online support site. Just click the following link and scroll down to “Default online safety and privacy settings”:

Xbox LIVE online safety and privacy

Some of these settings include:

  • Decide who has access to your children’s Xbox Live profile – including personal information.
  • Decide whether your child is allowed to accept friend requests, or if you, as an adult, are the one who must approve all request.
  • Decide who your child can communicate with using text, voice or video chat (everyone, friends only or blocked).
  • Decide if you want to allow your child to play online with other players (child profile only).
  • You can also opt-out of marketing, restrict explicit music, block social network sharing and much more.

For information on Kinect Privacy and Online Safety, please visit the following link, where you’ll find a very useful FAQ:

Kinect Privacy and Online Safety FAQ

Xbox 360 console parental controls

Xbox LIVE online safety and privacy

Improving Console Safety

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