Parent’s Guide to Xbox Live Online Gaming

 
There’s no questions playing games on a standard PC is a blast – but with the exception of the upcoming Windows Vista; there are very little parental controls to protect our children. It’s simply too easy to install inappropriately software, or chat with online strangers. A dedicated gaming console like Microsoft’s Xbox & Xbox 360 has family privacy settings to ensure children has a safe online gaming experience.

As parents we know there’s less chance of our children getting into trouble if they’re supervised. We search for licensed daycare, and are thrilled when our teenage babysitter is Red Cross Certified – instead of “pick-up games at the park” we prefer participation in “organized” sports, and of course, always visit a friend’s home only when a parent is present.
 
Today’s online gaming is your children’s’ new (electronic) playground. Parents understand the importance in seeing their children participate in sporting, musical, and theatrical events. Parents need to get-involved in online gaming with their children – even if it’s simply to watch. Besides, you’ll probably discover all the fun "old school" games on Xbox Live Arcade. 
 
How to Configure / Verify Microsoft’s Xbox Live’s Family Settings to Protect Your Children:  
Online Friends – Other people on Xbox Live may want to add your child to their personal friends list. To manage approval of your child’s online friends, you can require these requests to be approved by you. 
  1. Start from the System area of the Xbox Dashboard *
  2. Select Privacy and Friends, then New Online Friends.
  3. Choose one of the following settings: 
    • Select Approval Not Required to allow your child to send and accept new friend requests on his or her own. 
    • Select Require Approval to require that all new friend requests be approved by you. If you select this option, you must also approve any new friend requests that your child wants to send to other people. 
Communications – Manage who your child can communicate with on Xbox Live. Communication on Xbox Live includes chat, messages, and game invites using voice, video, or text.
  1. Start from the System area of the Xbox Dashboard *
  2. Select Privacy and Friends, then Communications.
  3. Choose one of the following settings:
    • Select Everyone to allow your child to communicate with anyone on Xbox Live.
    • Select Friends Only to allow your child to communicate only with people on his or her friends list.
    • Select Blocked to block everyone from communicating with your child. Your child will still receive new friend requests. 
Gamer Profile Viewing – Decide whether your child can see other people’s gamer profiles. A gamer profile includes information about a member’s online achievements and game history. It can also contain a gamer’s motto, which may be inappropriate for children. 
  1. Start from the System area of the Xbox Dashboard *
  2. Select Privacy and Friends, then Gamer Profile Viewing.
  3. Choose one of the following settings:
    • Select Everyone to allow you child to see everyone’s gamer profile.
    • Select Friends Only to allow only your child to see only the gamer profiles belonging to your child’s friends.
    • Select Blocked to block your child from seeing anyone’s gamer profile.  
Gamer Profile Sharing – Decide who can see your child’s gamer profile. Your child’s gamer profile includes their motto and information about their online achievements and game history. 
  1. Start from the System area of the Xbox Dashboard *
  2. Select Privacy and Friends, then Gamer Profile Sharing.
  3. Choose one of the following settings:
    • Select Everyone to allow everyone on Xbox Live to see your child’s gamer profile.
    • Select Friends Only to allow only your child’s friends to see your child’s gamer profile.
    • Select Blocked to block everyone from seeing your child’s gamer profile.  
Online Status – Decide whether other people can see your child’s online status. If you allow others to see your child’s online status, they can see your child’s current online activity, such as the game they are playing and whether they are available to play a game. 
  1. Start from the System area of the Xbox Dashboard *
  2. Select Privacy and Friends, then Online Status.
  3. Choose one of the following settings:
    • Select Everyone to allow everyone on Xbox Live to see your child’s online status and current activity.
    • Select Friends Only to allow only your child’s friends to see your child’s online status and current activity.
    • Select Blocked to block everyone from seeing your child’s online status and current activity. 
Online Games – To determine whether your child can play Xbox 360™ games with other players on Xbox Live. 
  1. Start from the System area of the Xbox Dashboard *
  2. Select Online Gameplay, then Xbox 360 Online Games.
  3. Choose one of the following settings:
    • Select Allowed to allow your child to play Xbox 360 games with others on Xbox Live.
    • Select Blocked to block your child from playing Xbox 360 games with others on Xbox Live.
Member Content – Decide whether your child can access content created by other people on Xbox Live. Member content includes images and text in games and gamer profiles. 
  1. Start from the System area of the Xbox Dashboard *
  2. Select Content, Member Content.
  3. Choose one of the following settings:
    • Select Allowed to allow your child to access member content.
    • Select Friends Only to allow your child to access content created by people on their friends list.
    • Select Blocked to block your child from accessing all member content. 
Downloadable Content – Decide whether your child can download premium content from Xbox Live Marketplace. Premium content includes Xbox Live Arcade games, game extensions, demos, and other items. If you choose to block this content, your child can still obtain free downloadable content. 
  1. Start from the System area of the Xbox Dashboard *
  2. Select Content, Downloadable Content.
  3. Select one of the following settings:
    • Select Allowed to allow your child to download premium member content from Xbox Live Marketplace.
    • Select Blocked to block your child from downloading premium content. Your child will still be able to get free downloadable content, determined by the game ratings settings on your console. 
General Family Settings 
  1. Start from the System area of the Xbox Dashboard *
  2. Select Family Settings, then Console Controls.
  3. Configure the Following: 
    • ESRB (Entertainment Software Ratings Board) Game ratings: Select the games you want your child to play, from EC (Early Childhood) to M (Mature).
    • DVD movie ratings: You can set Xbox 360 to play R, PG-13, PG, or G-rated movies.
    • Access to Xbox Live: Games can be played based on rating, and you can restrict access to your child’s friends list or gamer profile.
    • Family Timer allows you to set limits on each child’s console use per day in 15-minute increments, and Weekly in 1-hour increments.
    • Turn off Family Settings: No kids? Turn it off.  
 
(*) First Time Setup Information =  From the Initial Setup Complete screen. Select Family Settings, Xbox Live Controls and sign in using the password for your Microsoft Passport Network account. When you sign in, the system will load your child’s profile (or, if there is more than one child profile, you’ll be able to choose from all available child profiles). But the Passport Network account password you will need to provide is your own.
 
 
Click here for: Parent’s Guide to MySpace 
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About blakehandler

BLAKE is a Microsoft MVP and award winning programmer with over 20 years experience providing complete Windows and networking support for small to medium sized businesses. BLAKE was also a Personal Technology Coach for residential clients on the Los Angeles West Side. BLAKE now works full-time for a major media company.
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9 Responses to Parent’s Guide to Xbox Live Online Gaming

  1. Delete says:

    Excellent guide. You addressed several items which I had never given any thought.

  2. Amy says:

    Thanks for the info, it is very helpful. I have a ten year old who I just got xbox live for. I didn’t know about the settings and he was on today hearing all kinds of terrible stuff and getting insulted and bullied by a group of teenaged players. I feel terrible that he went through that! Now I need to cancel the xbox live and he is upset about that. If I turn on the parental controls, will he still be able to hear the other players? Sometimes they say bad things. How would he make friends to play the games with if I restrict them? We don’t know anyone with an xbox. I wonder if there is a safe way for him to play with other kids his age through the xbox live. Can you help me with any of this? Thanks and I appriciate your time :)

    • George says:

      Yes. You can acctualy. You have multiple choices including: Turning the headset off or deleting the group of kids from his friends and to turn on the moniter so for his friend requests that he sends and receives from people. Hope this helps.

  3. Unknown says:

    im the kid and my dad said it was ok to download a game demo that was rated m and it wont let me how do i let it download

  4. andrew says:

    no name – your parent has to enter a passcode – if it does not request one then it is one of the settings in family get your parent to go through them and read whe captions on the right – it may be blocking it because the demo does not have a rating attached to it.

  5. Jonathan says:

    How do I sign in as my child’s parent to change the settings?

  6. TBay says:

    my son set up a password for the family settings. is there any way for me to “override” that? thanks!

  7. klunk says:

    im a 11 old boy and all my friends have xbox live i dont. im trying to convince her but she thinks there is to much profanity in it. how should i convince her?

    • blakehandler says:

      Your Mom is correct to worry about your friends — I’m sure she doesn’t allow your off-line firends to cuss, that’s why she like’s to meet them!

      Just allow her to meet your online friends too (listen to the chatter). She simply wants to know your online firends are similar to your off-line firends.

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