Windows 10, Xbox family settings offer useful, free tools for parents during coronavirus pandemic

Microsoft Family Settings
Microsoft Family Settings (Image credit: Windows Central)

Many schools across the world are closed, meaning children are at home on their PCs much more than usual. Home is the safest place to be right now, but as our children spend more time on their PCs, online safety is going to be more important than ever. That's where Microsoft's family safety tools can help; built into every Windows 10 PC and Xbox One is a suite of tools that parents can use to make sure their children are using PCs online in a safe way.

These tools are managed via the online Microsoft Account website, where you can set up a family of adults and children and manage everything, including app permissions, website access, activity logging, account funds, device time limits, shared calendars, and shared OneNote notebooks. As long as all members of your family have a Microsoft Account, you can have a family set up in under 10 minutes and ready to set permissions for your children.

As mentioned above, this functionality is already built into Windows 10 and Xbox One, and you can even get similar functionality on Android if you download the Microsoft Launcher. Using the family safety tools, you can limit your children's access to specific websites and apps, and also set time limits for the PC and Xbox itself. For example, you can set access to the PC to be between 9 AM and 4 PM on weekdays and 8 AM to 9 PM on weekends.

Check out our in-depth look at the family safety tools

If the child needs more time, they can send a request to the parents that are registered in the family. Those requests will be sent to the parents via email, and even sent as an actionable notification to the parents PC if they're currently online. You can also confirm or deny spending in the Microsoft Store via these same email and OS notifications.

Using Microsoft Edge, parents can also keep an eye on which websites their children are accessing, with an entire log available to view at any time (this feature can be disabled if you or your child is uncomfortable with this.) The family safety tools can also send an email to the parents once a week with statistics, including how much time their kids spend on the PC or Xbox, and which websites they're frequently visiting. If there's a particular website you don't want your child to visit, you can add it to a block list.

On Xbox One, parents can control the age rating for games that can be accessed and purchased by their child. You can also control time limits and limit privacy settings to ensure your child is safe when playing online.

So if you have children at home from school right now and they're spending more time on the computer or Xbox. As a result, I recommend you give these family safety tools a look if you're concerned about your child's digital health and safety. Limit access time, block websites, and make sure your kids are safe from harmful things online.

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter and Threads