The Nintendo consoles have always been pretty family-friendly. Many of the games are great for the whole family to play. However, you still don’t want your kids playing on the console all day long! Plus, did you know that kids can access YouTube and other Apps on the Switch?
Locking down the Nintendo Switch is something a lot of parents don’t really think about until something happens that is concerning. Unfortunately, the Switch Parental Controls aren’t as robust as they could or should be, but it does give you some control over the console.
1. Download and Install the Switch Parental Control App
The first thing you need to do to set up parental controls on the Nintendo Switch is to download the Switch Parental Control app for iOS or Android on your phone. Once the app is open it will require you to sign in or sign up for a Nintendo account.
2. Set up a Nintendo Account for your child or children
With your own Nintendo account created, you can then add existing Nintendo accounts, or create accounts for your children, and set them up as managed accounts in your family. On the web interface, you will be able to prevent the account from making purchases and viewing content rated above their age in the Switch eShop.
3. Set up time limits and restrictions
Now you can create restrictions on the Switch itself. Within the app, tap on the “console settings” and set your “Play-Time Limit”, restriction level or create a PIN to override the parental controls when necessary.
What can you control on the Nintendo Switch?
There are a lot of things you can control on the Switch, including:
Set a daily time limit
You can set a daily time limit through the app. You can choose a time limit per day, or just set a specific time limit and have it set across all days of the week.
Set a Bedtime Alarm
You can also set a bedtime on the Switch. The control title is a little misleading. It is called a “Bedtime Alarm” but really it just means the Switch will become unusable after the time set for the Bedtime Alarm. It also will say “Until 8:00 PM” if that is the time you have set, but it really means it will shut down AT 8:00 PM.
Make sure for both the Play-Time Limit and The Bedtime Alarm you toggle the “Suspend Software” switch, otherwise, nothing will happen when your children hit the limits.
Set the Restriction Level
Another setting you will want to pay attention to is the Restriction Level. Here you can make sure that your children are unable to communicate with people within games, restrict games that are above a specific rating, and restrict the ability to post to social media.
You can override these settings at any time with the PIN, so make sure it’s a code your kids don’t already know, or can’t guess easily! If they are able to get in with your code, you should still be notified that the controls were disabled.
View device reports
Finally, you can see what exactly has been going on within the Switch. You can see how long your children have played, which account was playing, and what games they were playing during the time.
What is still missing from Nintendo Switch Parental Controls?
While you can set a daily time limit, and you can go into the app and increase that time limit at any time, it will then increase the time limit forever. So, say I were to increase the time limit for today because my kids have some extra time after they have done their chores and homework. I increase the daily time limit an additional 30 minutes.
If I have the Play-Time Limit set to copy to all days, it will keep that extra 30 minutes and apply it to tomorrow and the next day. If I have the days of the week set individually, it will apply that extra 30 minutes to every Monday until I change it back.
While I do get notified when my children install a new game or app on the Switch, I do not have the ability to restrict access to that game or app. I would love to be able to lock down access to apps like YouTube and others. I also would like to be able to manually approve the apps or games they install before they actually are able to play them.
One thing you can do to work around this is to use a wifi router that has parental controls built-in like the Gryphon. I can add the Switch to my child’s profile and restrict YouTube there so they won’t be able to use the app through the Switch.
Restrict Individual Profiles
It would also be nice if you can set different time limits for different profiles. When my daughter’s time is up, it would be nice if my son could hop on and use his time. I would just have to increase the total time available on the device, and I can’t restrict it based on the individual user.
Obviously, while there is still some work to be done on the parental control front from Nintendo, they are definitely making some good progress. I hope they continue to put development effort into the parental controls so it truly can be a great console for all ages to enjoy gaming!
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Sarah Kimmel is a digital parenting coach and family tech expert. She has spent the last 16 years of her career as a Microsoft Certified IT Manager supporting over 100 small businesses. During that time she started Family Tech LLC to help families understand and manage the technology in their home. She has regularly appeared as a family tech expert on KSL News, BYUtv and Studio 5, and has been invited all over the world from tech companies like Lenovo, Verizon, Microsoft, Dell, and Samsung. Find out more on her website SarahKimmel.com