A guide to parental controls on the Nintendo Switch

When the family are enjoying games on Nintendo Switch, how do you limit screen time and add some level of parental control?

Why consider parental controls on Nintendo Switch?

The Nintendo Switch console launched in 2017, with a veritable dynamo of Mario-powered gaming aimed straight at the heart of family entertainment. Over 68 million units have been sold, with gamers enjoying the dual nature of the machine; being able to play on their TVs and continue the fun on the handheld unit.

Compared to PlayStation and Xbox consoles, first party Nintendo titles for the Switch tend to be more geared towards the whole family, with Legend of Zelda and Mario games containing little to offend (unless you don’t like moustaches or plumbers). The takeaway nature of the console also poses new questions for parents, who have to contend with kids bringing the handheld into their rooms; putting pressure on screen time and unsuitable game-playing away from parents’ eyes.

Which is why we’re sharing some handy tips on Nintendo Switch parental controls, so you can take an overview and put some restrictions in play for child safety.

Girl playing on a Nintendo Switch

Getting started with Nintendo Switch parental control settings

Before your kids launch themselves into kart racing, flying, mining and spy missions on Nintendo Switch, there are a couple of aspects of their gaming a parent can keep tabs on.

Screen time is the first area to think about. Recommendations have talked about 30-60 minutes of play time on a school day and less than two hours on weekends, according to how you like to police your home. After that, you’re looking at the nature of the games themselves.

Titles such as Fortnite, which carries a 12 age rating, can be considered too mature for some children and you’ll also know what type of material suits your child – and at what age. It’s also worth noting that when it comes to applying discipline to your child’s Nintendo gaming, the direct and old fashioned way still works: walk over to the console and put it into “sleep mode” when all have had enough. Let’s get into the nitty gritty of how you activate parental controls.

Applying Nintendo Switch controls for your children

To get into parental safety controls on the Switch, there are a couple of ways to get started. Here are the first steps. Naturally, for basic functions on the console, you will need a solid and reliable internet connection and to download the Nintendo mobile app for the best way to take the reins.

  1. Go to the System Settings option on the main screen, either in docked or handheld mode.

  2. Look down the left-hand bar to find Parental Controls. Click (or tap if using the touchscreen) on this option. Use Parental Control Settings, the highlighted box on the right-hand side.

  3. Now you’ll see two options: you can either set simple parental controls by limiting gameplay by age (so that only certain age-ratings can be played), or you can set-up more complex parental parameters using the dedicated smartphone app for Android or iPhone.

  4. If you go for restricting gameplay on the console; you can set the age limit of different features, such as games and whether the user can post screengrabs taken on the Switch to social networks. Communication with other players can also be restricted, which could reduce any bullying or trolling on headset during gameplay.

  5. Worth noting that if you wanted to restrict parental controls per user on the Nintendo Switch, you can link your Nintendo account to a child’s Switch profile. For example, they might purchase games from Nintendo’s eShop; and if you have that option installed, you can restrict purchases made via that medium too. The instructions on are the Switch in that case.

  6. You will need an active Nintendo account linked to the Nintendo eShop to make purchases – of new digital games for example. With the parental controls app, we’re going to tell you about, you will also be informed of any new purchases as a double check you’re across everything that’s happening on the console. You should be using a PIN code to protect this.

  7. Worth considering as well, if you allow your child to use social media, in the form of YouTube on the Switch then time settings applied will count on that as well.

Using the Nintendo Switch app for parental controls

One handy option you have is to use a dedicated app to control your child’s Switch gaming from your own device. The Nintendo Switch Parental Controls app is available to download for either on iOS for iPhone or Android devices. Download it and follow the instructions on screen.

It is quite easy to set-up, though you need to put a bit of time aside and it may be better for the children in question to be elsewhere when you’re configuring the parental control pin-code and determining their day-to-day playing time. You will then be in position to the set restrictions, as you see fit. The console screen prompts you on what to you, and you’ll just need to link your Nintendo account and the Switch through a code that will be sent to your phone.

Once linked up, you will be able to set parental controls, putting in place content restrictions as per the limits on the console itself, and you’ll also to be able set up screen or daily play time limits, tailored to your child. That way, as if by dark magic, the console will not let them play past the agreed time limit. The app gives you the advantage, as a parent, of being able to monitor your kids play time away from the console.

Also very handy, you can get push notifications which inform you when time limits have been reached or when a young child is trying to tamper with settings; perhaps adding your password incorrectly. There is also the all-powerful option you can select that will actually disable the game software when allotted time runs out. Please note: any emotional outbursts that result will be down to you to manage and control. Good luck.

For more information on setting controls across a range of devices, apps and platforms visit Internet Matters

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