How to limit Xbox One screen time for your kids

The Xbox One Creators Update adds support for screen time limits. Here's how to set up those limits.

xbox one family-logo hero
Rob Schultz

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With the Xbox One Creators Update, parents no longer have to watch the clock to keep their kids from playing too many video games. Instead, parents can now set precise limits on screen time per day and define the hours during which it’s okay to play.

Setup’s a bit of a hassle, though, especially if the kids aren’t already set up with a Microsoft account. We’re here to walk you through it.

Setting up screen time

Currently, Microsoft does not support setting time limits directly through the Xbox One. Instead, you must set up screen time through a phone, tablet, or PC first.

1. Using a web browser, head to, then sign into your Microsoft account.

2. Click the Add a child button.

3. Enter your child’s email address, select Sign my child in, and enter the password for your child’s Microsoft account.

screentimeaddachild Jared Newman / PCWorld

4. If the child does not have a Microsoft account, you must create one (see the video below for a detailed how-to). Use the child’s email address as the username, set a password, then enter the code from Microsoft Family that appears in the child’s email inbox.

5. When prompted to “Join the family as a child,” select Yes, then enter the child’s birthdate.

6. On the next screen, select Have a parent sign in. Enter your own Microsoft account information, and select Yes when prompted to let your child use a Microsoft account. (Microsoft requires a one-time charge of $0.50 to verify parental consent, in compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.)

7. In the Your family section, select Screen time in the area to the right of your child’s name.

msfamilyadd Jared Newman / PCWorld

8. Set the toggle to On under Xbox Screen time.

9. To set maximum screen time per day, use the drop-down menus next to each day of the week.

10. To set up approved playtimes, click one of the time bars, set the start and end times, then select Add. You may also set up a limit for multiple days at once by selecting Set a time limit at the bottom of the schedule (though this works only if you haven’t set limits for those days already).

microsoftscreentime Jared Newman / PCWorld

You can also set PC time limits from this same menu. Just scroll down below the Xbox section, set the toggle to On under PC Screen time, then repeat the the last two steps.

Locking down your Xbox

To enforce the time limits you just set, you must set up the child’s account on the Xbox One, and ensure that your own account is password-protected.

1. Navigate to the top-left corner of the guide to see your profile, then select Add & manage.

xbonesignin Jared Newman / PCWorld

2. In the Who are you? screen, select Add new.

3. Sign in with the child’s Microsoft account.

4. When prompted, select Choose an adult, then log into your own Microsoft account. (You’ll have to do this even if you’re signed in already.)

5. If you have a Kinect, Microsoft can sign in the child with face recognition. Without Kinect, you can either require a passkey or a full password to sign in and make account changes.

6. Return to your own account to lock it down. Head to Settings > All Settings > Account > Sign-in, security, & passkey, then select Change my sign-in and security preferences.

xbonesecurity Jared Newman / PCWorld

7. Select either Ask for my passkey, which requires a six-digit code for logins and transactions, or Lock it down, which requires a full password. (Kinect owners can also set up sign-in through facial recognition.)

8. If asked to stop using instant sign-in, select Continue.

Keep in mind that immediately after setup, you’ll still be signed into the parent account, so don’t turn over the controller just yet. You’ll either have to sign out or turn off the console to initiate the lockdown and ensure that your screen time limits are enforced.

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