While the entire world has been in quarantine for the last few months, many of us have had to stay home with our kids out of school. For some, that means we’re working as they’re doing school work, or enjoying some of their free time online.
While it can be really easy sometimes to just let kids be kids, I’ve found in our home routine that disabling accounts and Internet access during certain blocks of the day on a regular schedule helps my two children get on a set routine where they know it’s schoolwork time, and not goof-off time. In this blog, I’m going to try and help my fellow parents in setting up access restrictions, and even set up profiles that can be disabled with a few clicks.
Some of the more popular platforms for kids to hop online are going to be the consoles (Playstation, Xbox, & Nintendo Switch), and Windows PCs. Thankfully, Xbox & Windows’ family management tools are cross platform, so you can set both of those up at the same time, so let’s start there:
Here, we can add Microsoft Accounts to be managed as a family. A child needs to have their own email/Microsoft Account in order to be added. I know some of our users prefer not to use Microsoft Accounts when working within Windows 10, but I think it’s absolutely essential to manage your child accounts if you have an Xbox or a Windows PC that needs to be managed. Clicking on the “+” sign means you can add a new family member. Once you’ve followed the prompts, (You have to confirm from the child email that you’ll be adding), head over to the screen time tab as seen here below:
Here is where you’ll be deciding what times to block out account access for the kiddo in question. This will depend on what your day-to-day routine looks like. For my home, I tend to block out all account access until about 12pm. My kiddos like to get up on their own between 7-8a (though your family’s habits will obviously vary), and this gives them a gap between wake-up time, and playtime that’s designed to be filled in with daily schoolwork from whatever work has been assigned remotely from the school.
From here, you can set the times of the day where they can play, and how much total time they can be logged in to their accounts (under the Time Limits section):
Setting up the above means that the second they log in to their Microsoft account from either the Xbox or the Windows PC, they’ll be subject to the management rules. When they come close to reaching either the total logged in max time, or the clock limit, they get a warning every 5 minutes for the last 15 minutes of their available time, so they know it’s coming. Within either platform, they can click on the notification to request more game time, but we’ll leave that as a Parenting Game-Time Decision (see what I did there? Meh, ok, I’ll see myself out).
Playstation’s family management structure is not as friendly of a UI to manage, but you can achieve the same lockdowns as there as you can on the Microsoft platforms. Clicking on Family Management will lead you to the section where you need to add the family member’s account. Again, same as the Microsoft platforms, any family members need to have their own emails/accounts. Once the account is added, you’ll be able to click on said profile and add the same style of restrictions (Either total played time and/or play time within certain times of the day) as seen below.
XFinity aka XFi
I personally like the Xfi set up (If Comcast/XFinity is your provider) because I can pause the devices a little more specifically, if I want/need to, or if somebody forgot their chores, I can pause remotely and not disrupt something I might already be doing!
First, I highly suggest you make a profile for each family member. Make sure that each person’s device is always attached to their own profile. If they have a cell phone, a Nintendo Switch, a tablet, etc, make sure all devices are personalized and attached to that person’s profile. Yes, there’s some legwork to be done initially, but once it’s done, you don’t have to do it again.
Once you connect a device to any XFinity router, you get a request to “Personalize” the device and add it to a profile.
Once you’ve attached devices to somebody’s profile, their profile starts to look something like this image to the right. You’ll be able to see how much time they’re logging right now, and what devices are attached to that profile. You can pause all devices from here at the router level if needed, in case you have a technology savvy kiddo on your hands who got around restrictions by creating an alternate login profile (because that’s definitely never, ever, ever happened to me).
Your local ISP should have similar features, but I live here on the West Coast, so XFinity’s services are one of the few ISPs offered here. Cox in the Midwest/East Coast also does have a similar router access management system, and it even looks the same. That can be found at this link. Your wireless router should also have similar settings if you purchased it on your own. There are too many router combinations for me to include.
Hopefully this article might help a parent or two out there, and if you have some feedback or maybe need some help, comment on this article and I’ll do my best to help a fellow parent!