All Your Entertainment, All in One Box– Xbox 360/Kinect

Your kids may want a Xbox with Kinect so they can karate chop fruit as the Fruit Ninja but an Xbox is much more. Recently, Microsoft announced the Xbox will now support entertainment channels that allow live and on demand entertainment including movies, music and TV. Xbox, like many digital products, is moving toward becoming a one stop shop for searching the web, downloading movies, watching TV, recording videos, connecting with online friends and playing games.

With this expansion, managing the Xbox is more than just picking out age appropriate games. Parents need to decide on rules regarding communicating online, downloading content and linking to social networks. Thankfully, Microsoft has recognized this challenge and updated the Family Settings.  The Family Settings are easy to locate and Microsoft has a step-by-step guide. The guide shows parents how to set limits for online and offline interactions; restrict content based on age ratings; use a passcode to lock in settings and limit play time with the family timer.

Parents can set up specific online safety controls for each family member when creating Xbox LIVE accounts. For kids under 18, Xbox asks for parental permission before setting up a Xbox LIVE account.  Parents can choose the activities kids can participate in online, limit who kids can communicate with, and choose who can see their profile or friends list as well as what information they can see about others. These settings are applied every time the child signs in.

Privacy settings can also be set for the Kinect. Some Kinect games allow kids to take pictures or video during game play using the Kinect sensor. These pictures and videos can be uploaded to their Facebook and other accounts with KinectShare. Who can see these photos and videos are determined by the privacy settings on the linked account not through Xbox. Kids should know that deleting content from KinectShare does not delete it from these other sites. Kids will need to go to the linked site and delete the photo or video. Parents can choose to allow or block this feature.

Microsoft has set up a great website for the Xbox/Kinect at GETGameSmart.com. This site discusses the most current parental controls tools and provides expert tips. Unfortunately, no settings are fool-proof. A quick search on YouTube reveals videos for how to get around family settings.  So before chopping fruit, discuss each settings with your kids and make sure they understand why these limits are important. And before opening presents, check out the video for setting up Xbox’s parental controls.

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