Microsoft confirms 360 Family Timer for December

Software giant announces that new console feature that lets parents ration game time will arrive next month; touts alliance with PTA.

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Currently, all three current-generation consoles have parental controls. Like similar features on televisions and DVD players, the tools for the Wii, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 let parents lock out games of a certain rating. Thus, a 35-year-old man could own Gears of War without worrying about his 5-year-old son accidentally playing it.

This morning, Microsoft upped the parental-control ante by officially announcing the long-rumored Family Timer feature for its Xbox 360 console. Based on a similar feature in the Windows Vista operating system, the feature lets parents limit the amount of time a child plays on a daily or weekly basis. Once a child nears the maximum playtime, a reminder will appear on the console to warn the player to save the game soon.

The Family Timer option will be a download from Xbox Live and will be available in December. Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft's Entertainment & Devices Division, unveiled it at a Washington, DC event this morning. The event was to promote PACT, "a family contract" being promoted by the Parent Teacher Association as a way "to foster family discussion about screen-ime guidelines." The PACT contract is available for download on the newly revamped family games section of Xbox.com.

Discussion

279 comments
rodrigo101992
rodrigo101992

well, this is a good methos because my cousins are always fighting for wanting to play and one of them takes a lot

KinMan1114
KinMan1114

well, considering that some parents don't even have time to cook a real home cook meal nowadays in addition to all the responsibilities to think about from taking care of the kid(s), the house, and work, its really a great idea to not have to unplug the hard-drive or take away the power cord and then find a NEW place to hide it from the kid(s) everytime because they found out where it was the last time. LOL. This is kinda like set it and forget it. But if all else fails, parents can do what my parents did when I was young to get me out of the house to actually do something like get a life - walk up to your kid's console, unplug all the wires behind it, and drop it accidentally onto the floor. Yea...it did work. hahaha

jmooby
jmooby

Couldn't you just remove the hard drive and by-pass the timer?

botanisk
botanisk

hear the under aged scream of despair and spite. On a serious note, this might help the weight problems amongst kids in the western world.

redbull2697
redbull2697

wow... this is stupid. i dont care at all about this. **** u microsoft, im going to the ps3.

imrlybord7
imrlybord7

Good thing my parents dont know about this...

MayCauseCancer
MayCauseCancer

You DON'T love your children if you download this

Luckoftheirish8
Luckoftheirish8

Am I the only one that may consider using the timing thing for myself? Sometimes I'll get so wrapped up into my game that I'll spend hours on end playing it. This would be a good reminder to get off my arse and do something constructive.

lord-of-gamers
lord-of-gamers

i wonder if they will charge for this seeing as it is a download...

Vance_009
Vance_009

Yes less 10 years old kids playing M rated games.

sacker63
sacker63

this is a brilliant idea, not matter what anyone says. Not only will this keep kids from becoming owerweight from doing nothing but playing video games, but it's yet another control the parents have to keep kids from playing video games for too long, and hopefully make them more aware of the games their kids are playing. I agree with this because I'm writing an editorial about responsibility that parents are refusing to take credit for, and instead dumping it on the video game industry. Parents need to be more repsonsible for their children and these parental controls are their tools for when they're not around. they have tutorials, so the lack of intelligence doesn't fly w/ me.

sacker63
sacker63

this is a brilliant idea, not matter what anyone says. Not only will this keep kids from becoming owerweight from doing nothing but playing video games, but it's yet another control the parents have to keep kids from playing video games for too long, and hopefully make them more aware of the games their kids are playing. I agree with this because I'm writing an editorial about responsibility that parents are refusing to take credit for, and instead dumping it on the video game industry. Parents need to be more repsonsible for their children and these parental controls are their tools for when they're not around. they have tutorials, so the lack of intelligence doesn't fly w/ me.

X-RS
X-RS

well there is worse $#!+ on live, worst of all it happens all the time cuz of course xbl is worldwide (duh...). neway most parents (or at least the ones ive met) dont know how to hook up the vcr/dvd/tv/sound system. How they gonna know how to work a 360?

Devvy01
Devvy01

HOw about just don't plug it in? Maybe easier??

THEMOD3158
THEMOD3158

You guys have to understand that the family home of today is different from that of years ago. Moms don't stay home and look after the kids anymore. Instead, both mother and father have to work full-time in order to support their families. For families that have more than one child, you have school and several other extra curricular activities that require time and effort from the parents (more so than the past). So stop saying this is dumb because parents should be paying more attention to their kids. The fact is, they just can't sometimes. That being said, there's still no excuse for a 12 or 13 year-old kid playing GTA or something. These parental controls are here for a good reason, and if parents are made aware of and use them properly, I say go for it.

KBABZ
KBABZ

Maxdriva said: this is retarded Well, now we all know you're 13 years old.

wizard_levy
wizard_levy

People forgot what being a parent is. If you don't want to take the responsability of raising a child THEN DON'T HAVE CHILDREN.

dorohala
dorohala

I bet its gonig to cost money just to put that silly lock on! This is Bull****!!!

Bgrngod
Bgrngod

I had plenty of friends growing up that has rationed game time on their NES and such. These kinds of tools are the answer to many people refusing to take blame by saying "well I can't watch me kid ALL the time" after their kid gets in trouble. Well, now you have more tools are your disposal. Use them.

playstation_wii
playstation_wii

Parents, just supervise what your kids are doing. Seriously.

pungent231
pungent231

Wow. Just great. This will simply push extremes even farther. Parents who just video games babysit their kids can spend even less time paying attention to their children. They dont even have to tell the kid to stop, the 360 does it for them. On the other hand, now overparenting can be easier too! Hovering over the child(s) and prying about everything. Constraint and sheltering do no one any good.

NinjaMunkey01
NinjaMunkey01

It would be funny if there was no warning. Just about to complete a huge oblivion mission, then it turnes itself off, NOOOOO!!!!! its a good idea though.

ChickenHounk911
ChickenHounk911

I'm glad that I am a parent and that I know how to work an xbox 360.

Snk211
Snk211

So this just gives another reason for parents to give something else up watching their kids. I mean if the console does it all what are the parents responsibilities. It is suppose to make it easier but if parents would just take initiative we would not have all this extra junk!

Shodden
Shodden

that's retarded, who would ration out their kids playtime? screw that.

JJpenguin
JJpenguin

this is a lose lose situation, as i see it, if microsoft don't advertise it well enough, kids on live will just make sure they don't find out (or like me set a password already) however, if it is known globally, loads of kids will miss out on HAVING FUN, i know it is an alien concept to some, but playing board games or card games on a rainy day is incredibly boring besides, if your kid is unhealthy, fair reason to ban them, or restrict them, but i do sport 4 times a week for 1 and a half hours...it just seems wrong to limit me playing after that. lastly siblings could wreak this whole thing, if you have a brother on for an hour, on a 2 hour timer then all is well, however if he uses it all up you could either add extra so he could play more, or moitor him anyway, which means no change from the current system. Microsoft...what are we going to do...

dmastor
dmastor

GReat just Great now my Girlfriend could but a timer on my console. My life is Over... thank you microsoft.

extrmgamer2
extrmgamer2

I believe that this is a lot better alternative than to eradicate all the games your child can play, now at least you know your kid won't go all day without eating or going to the bathroom lol.

mrkame16
mrkame16

sybillium1 I might have to use this feature on myself......SEEDman_X This is AWESOME!!! I will seriously use it on myself.....I Agree you dont know how many times i over play in a week, constantly losing sleep. I sometimes get 4 to 5 hrs of sleep a day before going to work. A timer would definitely remind me to go to bed, allowing a good nights rest. So many games so little time.......

polarwiseman
polarwiseman

Does anyone know if there will be any other new features released this year? I was kind of hoping for something that would be useful to me while gaming, or improvements on the WLM. Also, i thought we were told that the Video Marketplace was coming to europe in the 'near future' at E3 - I haven't heard much since that.

Hvac0120
Hvac0120

I don't let games babysit my kids. I also pay attention to how much time they are spending on games. The most important thing is that they get their chores and their homework done before they are allowed to game. Once all the is done, we also enjoy family gaming. Currently Mario Party 8 for the Wii has been popular with my children. I think good parenting can take care of this without a tool. The tool is great because there really aren't a lot of good parents left out there. However, they may be because they think that tools like this are the end-all of all their troubles. Then they get mad because they - as parents- didn't use the tool as it was intended. I think that this is nice, but I think I do enough myself that I won't need it.

dracos9000
dracos9000

Well as a child growing up I was never limited from any rating systems as my dad believed I was mature and disciplined enough to see any ratings by age 8+. Also he didn't think it was important to limit game time as well. Grades in school were between A-Bs and I was probably the least violent kid of course until I started to get pick on for being the only Asian in school. Graduated high school in top 10%. Now at the age of 24 I am still a gamer but only 1 year away from a BA in Computer Science with a 3.8 GPA. Would have gone to school earlier but I went to war. I have some small mental problems but mostly those are due to Post Combat Stress. So I am just a prime example that restrictions aren't needed just a very close relationship with your parents is needed. Of course if my grades had dropped the games would have been taken away in an instant but that was never the case.

SFMrAnderson
SFMrAnderson

@Klactose--I totally understand why you may have come to that conclusion. I pm'd you regarding the issue. I should have been more clear.

Wezker619
Wezker619

how about putting a clan tab or like a multi private chat.

sieg6529
sieg6529

If anything, it gives parents another excuse to not pay attention to their kids and what they're doing.

RojAvon
RojAvon

Some of you people are really living in the past. I'm 36, old enough to have kids who want to play video games for hours on end if allowed to, and I am fully able to "program a VCR" and use other functions of the tech devices I own. I'm in one of the first generations who grew up being tech savy. More and more, parents aren't as tech-ignorant as kids seem to think. As for this feature, it's a tool not a perfect solution. A setting like this could be helpful because it's more objective than the eternal argument about "When did you start playing" and "I just want 5 more minutes". Settings like this make me more comfortable about letting a kid have tech items in their bedroom because I can have more control of when and how much it's used. I'm not stupid. I realize that kids figure ways around stuff if they really want to, but I've got enough knowleddge to, if not prevent behavior that I wish to, to at least know that something suspicious is gong on. It's a tool. You don't like it, don't use it. You do like it, realize it's not a cure all for time wasting or irresponsibility, but it can be used helpfully.

fredbear316
fredbear316

I think that this feature will be great for all parents to setup for their kids and themselves but not for the reason to keep kids from playing and fearing coach potato syndrome and obesity.We all support our education systems limit their time and focus more on their education, they are the future lawyers doctors engineers and even game programmers. For us parents who are gamers like myself wont have to worry about the great red ring of death. I was a victim of this due to the fact playing unlimited hours without stopping so i think that this feature will be great for all of us. i think parents should know what their kids are playing and when. I think that somehow kids will figure out how to change time due to the fact these kids will get frustrated when they have not save their game in a while. I grew up playing games that were violent that curse and games that you had to steal cars but i knew that it was not right in my mind i would not go out and kill someone because i did it in the game. Video games keeps kids from the streets and the drugs.bringing your kids up the right way knowing the esrb and looking at all packages to see what the rating of the game. we parents have control of our kids where they are how they have contact with that game and control of their time with this feature gives the parents more control. when are we expecting the new update.

KBABZ
KBABZ

darkzerogamer said: Parents didn't even know how to program a vcr what makes Microsoft thinks that a parent is going to be able to know how to program the parental controls? Dude, NO-ONE can program a VCR well. Go on, you try it! I would agree on the screamer problem, it'd be such a laugh to see them suddenly quit a match because they got booted off! That'd make some neat achievements too: Frag 15 Screamers before they get booted off by a 360 Timer. This is both an embarrassment and a sort of a blessing. It's embarrassing because A) Companies feel the need to add this sort of thing to the console and B) That's because they feel that parents are unable to tell their kids to turn off the console in the first place. IMO, pulling out the power cable/installing a timer AV socket thing is much easier for an average parent to do than Sign up on Live, create an account name and password, verify the email, use the controller to navigate Live and download the program, then wait for it. The kid can much more easily create another account, considering he most likely made the first one.

razu_gamer
razu_gamer

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

-HCMF-
-HCMF-

Sounds like a good feature - hopefully this is a step in the right direction for todays youth. I don't know about you, but I want to make sure that the generation that will be takeing care of me, and spounge bathing me when I'm old is not a bounch of fat lazy idiots. Good idea, but I'm sure every kid will have the "hack" a week before it is released...

SirMonotone
SirMonotone

Sounds like a very useful feature for parents with kids playing their 360. But where's the next dashboard update? :(

Anthony71B
Anthony71B

How about forgoing this crap and fixing RROD?

AceCometh
AceCometh

If I had children, I'd most certainly put this feature to use. I sure could have used it while I was in college. I might have finished it sooner!

lanista
lanista

We already control our childrens' time on games, so this is good but shouldn't be necessary if you're already doing that Could also be good for adults who forget how long they're on the console for, so it could be a healthy check Either way it sounds like a handy feature for some people