Modern consoles like Xbox 360 connect players all over the planet via Xbox LIVE, can access internet search engines, and even download movies. Thankfully, there are plenty of parental controls you can use to ensure your children are always safe.
Below are some specific tips on the safety settings available on the Xbox 360. Most other games consoles have safety settings too, so whichever console you own, make you sure you go to the manufacturer's website for specific instructions on how to enable these features.
Xbox 360 Family Safety
The Xbox 360 console lets you customise and manage your family's access to games, films and television content. You can also choose how long each family member uses the console, block access to the internet and set other parameters.
Xbox 360 parental controls are divided into two groups: ‘console controls’ and ‘online safety and privacy settings’.
Console controls are located in the Family Settings or Family Centre area on your console (depending on your Xbox LIVE membership type). The key controls to familiarise yourself with are:
Ratings and Content – these settings let you restrict games and video content based on the content's age rating. You can also set whether or not unrated or explicit content can be played on the console.
Family Timer – this setting allows you to limit the time your Xbox 360 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 their console.
Xbox LIVE Membership Creation – this setting allows you to control whether or not new Xbox LIVE memberships can be created from your console.
For step-by-step instructions on how to set up these controls, see Xbox Parental Controls.
Online Safety and Privacy Settings
You can also change the online safety and privacy settings for any profile on your console:
Go to the My Account page.
In the upper-right corner of the page, click Sign In to access your Xbox LIVE account.
Under Settings and Preferences, click Privacy and Online Settings.
Change the settings to whatever you'd like.
For more information about the privacy settings available on Xbox 360, see Online safety and privacy settings.
Xbox 360 Kinect safety controls
The Kinect controller for Xbox 360 has its own set of safety controls. These allow you to:
Turn off the Kinect sensors, including the microphones and camera, when the Xbox console is not being used for a Kinect-enabled game.
Specify whether photos taken by games using Kinect can be uploaded to a website outside of Xbox LIVE.
Disable face recognition for identifying Kinect players.
Disable Kinect's voice-recognition feature.
For a step-by-step guide to the safety features on Kinect, see Kinect Privacy & Online Safety.
Choose age-appropriate games
To make sure the games your children play feature only appropriate content, use the PEGI ratings system, which appears on all video games sold in the UK.
The PEGI system rates video games at various age levels (3, 7, 12, 16 and 18) and is designed to protect children and young teenagers from inappropriate content.
For more information on the PEGI rating system, see the PEGI website.