Xbox’s new family safety app is being previewed
“Just another hour. Please!” It is a phrase that has been heard in every family with a game console.
Since the World Health Organization classified gambling addiction as a mess in 2018, the discussion of how healthy gambling has taken on has taken on greater significance.
It’s not just how long people are playing. Questions about who they are playing and how much money they are spending are also asked more often.
From screen time limits to content filters, Xbox hopes a new app will help families with their home game dilemmas.
“We want to provide an easy and convenient way for parents and families to manage their gaming experiences,” says Dave McCarthy, one of the brains behind the project.
Newsbeat was provided with a demonstration of how the app will work.
The goal is to be easy to use and at the same time give parents and guardians the control they want.
“There is such an excellent balance between providing enough choice and not crushing people,” says Dave.
“We first optimized for simplicity. We said, we just want it to be clear what you want to do.
“Time to Minecraft was literally how we measured it.
“How long did it take to get someone who was using our family settings and parental controls in Minecraft online, having fun and being safe?”
The Xbox Family Settings app will allow parents and guardians to set limits on how long their children can play each day and to provide weekly activity reports.
It will also allow users to filter games subject to age limits and also to limit online communication.
The app is a way of helping families make the right choices for them, rather than dictating a set of rules, Dave says, “We offer choice and easy access.
“You have to have a conversation about what’s right for you as a family, because what’s right for my family won’t be suitable for someone else.
“We want to encourage this balanced approach to games, so that it’s part of an active and fun life, but like many things – all in moderation.”
For some, the gaming industry as a whole has been slow to respond to the WHO decision in January 2018, and some game developers have been criticized by a Westminster political committee in 2019.
Earlier this year, the commercial body representing the UK gaming industry created a new website and launched a campaign to encourage families to talk about healthy gambling habits.
The app is Microsoft’s latest attempt by the Xbox owner to promote a responsible gaming message.
Dave recognizes that many of the controls provided by the new app have been available to users for some time, but accessing them hasn’t always been easy enough for many parents.
“The motivation to go to the mobile app in the first place is because, for better or for worse, these things surround us continuously.
“Our mission is to make this easy and convenient and we hope the app looks like a step in the right direction.”
This preview version of the app is now available for all Android users and the first 10,000 downloaders on iOS.
The full release won’t happen until the end of the year, and Dave says they hope to find out if people want more control over things like in-game shopping and managing friend lists. He says, “I predict it’s the kind of answers we will get.
“It’s the obvious areas that there aren’t enough of them yet to work on, assuming it’s the feedback.”
“We recognize that play plays such an important role in so many aspects of our life and social development.
“This is just a continuous path of innovation and, as we welcome more and more people into the game, we hope this shows you how to achieve balance and that games can play a truly productive role in your life.
“We can be truly proud of this art and technology that we love so much.”
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