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Parental Controls For The Xbox: How To Control What Youre Teen Is Exposed To On Xbox Live
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Parental Controls For The Xbox: How To Control What Youre Teen is Exposed to On Xbox Live

If you've got a teenager then there's a good change they've exposed to Xbox live. Xbox live is a paid service provided by Microsoft which allows game play over the internet with other players.

We bought an xBox with the Kinect the Christmas of 2010 and hooked it up to xBox live. Coming from a guy that grew up on consoles like the Atari and Nintendo systems the graphics and game play are amazing. We've had a Nintendo Wii for a while now so I figured I knew what to expect with the Kinect. I thought it would just be another awkward interface that made it difficult to play the really fun games. However, the Kinect was nothing like I expected.

I was able to speak to my XBox and control it simply by using hand gestures from the couch. The actual game play is incredibly accurate in how it tracks my body's movements and displays it in the game.

Using the xBox & Kinect I could now connect to my wireless internet, browse the media on the other PC's in the house, stream NetFlix, Hulu, play games online not to mention video chat.

All the new features were plenty for me to explore as my wife can testify. This did however introduce a new concern. One day while working from the living room down stairs I could hear my teen daughter playing Halo Reach and by the sounds of it she was playing with other teens through Xbox live. She's normally not interested in Halo and could care less, but since she knows every boy in her school likes Halo, now she's suddenly a "Master Chief". I guess you could call her a pseudo gamer.

The voices streaming downstairs suddenly weren't my teens but another teen shouting obscenities. Now I'm not going to pretend my darling teen has never heard a curse word in her life, but I've got two other younger kids in the house not to mention it just sounds trashy and disrespectful to hear that in my house. I won't put up with it.

I marched upstairs and told her to tell her friend to stop using the foul language. She replies with "I don't know who it is and shrugs her shoulders." I then turn to the screen like an idiot and tell the offender to stop cursing and keep it clean. Well, you can imagine what obscenities followed. My teen was taken back and put the controller down. I told her to figure out how to make "that" stop immediately or she can't play any longer.

She quickly figured out how to make the other teens voice disappear faster than an Italian mob. I'll explain that later.

This got me interested in what parental controls are available for the xBox. It turns out the xBox does offer some parental controls, but unfortunately in my investigation just about as fast as I learned to use the parental controls I also learned a way around them.

What parental controls does Microsoft offer for the xBox?

First of all you can access the parental controls by going to you're xBox dashboard. Go to the "My Xbox" area then scroll to the right until you see "Family Center" or "Family Settings" depending on which Xbox you have.

The available options for parental controls are;

  • Ratings & Content - Let's you control which games you're teen has access to according to the ESRB rating. You can also assign access for games or videos that are "Un-Rated".
  • Family Timer - Let's you control how long you're teen can play on the XBox.
  • Xbox Live Access - Allows a parent to limit access to Xbox live.
  • Xbox Live Membership Creation - Allows a parent to restrict access on creating new members to an Xbox live account.

As expected you can set a passcode for this area to keep the settings safe.

Can I limit access to streaming videos through NetFlix, Hulu & Xbox Live Video Marketplace etc.

Yes, the ratings & content settings area of the family center will also work for streaming video.

What if someone is yelling obscenities at my teen through Xbox live? What can I do?

  • Report Abuse: Depending on the offense, if the offense violates the Xbox Code of Conduct, you can report abuse to Microsoft. You can report abuse by finding the gamers profile and click the "file complaint" button.
  • Mute: If the teen is just generally annoying and foul mouthed then the easiest thing to do is mute the player by going to their gamer profile and clicking the "mute" button. This is what my daughter did to save the game.

The gaming industry have made great strides to help parents and teens limit what type of games they can play. The (ESRB) Entertainment Software Rating Board was established in 1994 by the Entertainment Software Association. The ESRB handles the tasks of assigning a rating to every video game, enforcing advertising guidelines and online privacy practices for the video gaming industry. ESRB ratings are usually on the lower left panel of every video game.

You mentioned that there's a way around the parental controls of the Xbox.

I actually learned how to do this by watching a video, but honestly for the first person who learned this... I tip my hat to you for you're patience. You can learn how to by-pass Xbox parental controls by going to Youtube and searching for "How to bypass parental controls on the Xbox 360".

I recommend using the parental controls on the Xbox, but in combination with educating you're teen on you're expectations for using Xbox live. Just be up front and let them know the limits and show them how to report abuse and mute players. While this isn't a sure sign you're teen will ever hear another bad word or be exposed to something you regret, it's at least a stride in the right direction.


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