In case you missed it (am I'm not sure how you could), Microsoft is now including a Family Timer in the Xbox 360. The device that was released in today's console update will allow parents (or even roommates) the ability to restrict or monitor the amount of time a user is on the console. Whether this proves to be a great idea, or backfires in Microsoft's face (kids not wanting a console that can restrict there game playing time) will not be known for months. Check out all the details in the release after the jump:
Microsoft research reveals that parents in the U.S. and Europe would welcome a timer tool to help manage their children’s screen time.
REDMOND, Wash. — Dec. 4, 2007 — Microsoft Corp. today launched the Xbox 360 Family Timer worldwide, available for download via Xbox LIVE in 26 countries. This is great news for parents because Microsoft research reveals that children’s media consumption and time spent playing video games are universal concerns for families.
A Microsoft survey conducted throughout Europe found that parents embrace the idea of support from the gaming industry, with 75 percent of them welcoming built-in technology or software to monitor the time their children spend playing video games. A similar Microsoft survey conducted in the United States last month found that 62 percent of parents say they would use a timer if it were available to help them manage their children’s interactive entertainment use. Both surveys were the product of the company’s ongoing commitment to responsible gaming and the start of year two of Microsoft’s “Safety is no game. Is your family set?” campaign.
In line with the research, Microsoft today has made available worldwide to Xbox LIVE users a new Family Timer feature that will enable parents for the first time to set the appropriate amount of gaming and entertainment time on the Xbox 360 console for their kids — on a daily or weekly basis. A list of countries with available Xbox LIVE service is at http://www.xbox.com/live/countries.
“As a leader in interactive entertainment, it has been our priority to innovate and improve our Family Settings technology to help parents worldwide manage their children’s video gaming and online experiences,” said Jeff Bell, corporate vice president of Global Marketing for the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft.
In addition, the European study found that content of games and the time spent playing video games are important issues to parents. Similarly, in the U.S., 66 percent of parents have rules about the amount of time their kids can spend playing video games and 86 percent have rules about the type of content their kids have access to.
The Xbox 360 Family Timer is an addition to the console’s existing set of industry-leading parental control features. Similar to the parental controls in the Windows Vista operating system, the new Xbox 360 Family Timer can restrict children’s activity time.. Helpful notifications will appear to warn gamers that the session is nearing the end so they have sufficient time to save their game, and the feature will automatically turn off the console when the predetermined time limit has been exceeded.
Although the U.S. survey focused on media consumption and household rules while the European survey focused on habits and attitudes of families on gaming issues, both polls revealed similar results. In Europe and the U.S., video gaming is a family activity, with most parents in both regions saying that they play video games with family members (U.S., 54 percent; Europe, 51 percent). The U.S. public survey polled 800 parents who have a video game console in their home and found that 99 percent had at least some rules about media use. The public poll conducted in Europe surveyed 4,000 parents in the U.K., France, Germany and Italy and found that seven out of 10 parents (71 percent) expressed concern over the content of video games.
Microsoft’s Commitment to Families Is Ongoing
Xbox was the first video game and entertainment system with built-in parental controls for both online and offline use. Known as Family Settings, these controls allow parents and caregivers to set guidelines for the types of games they will allow, make informed choices about content, and decide with whom their children can play online. Earlier this year, Windows Vista launched with a similar set of parental controls that allows parents to guide children’s game playing, Web browsing and overall computer use. These controls help parents determine which games their children can play, which programs they can use and which Web sites they can visit — and when.
“We get up every day committed to providing consumers with unprecedented entertainment experiences, but we also understand that our success comes with a responsibility to acknowledge genuine concerns and address them through technology and education,” Bell said.
According to Bell, with more than 13 million Xbox 360 consoles sold worldwide, the company’s drive to empower parents is a core Microsoft responsibility. Last fall, the company launched the “Safety is no game. Is your family set?” national grassroots campaign (http://www.xbox.com/isyourfamilyset) with Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Best Buy Co. Inc. to educate parents about the tools and resources available to help them manage their children’s interactive entertainment experiences on both Xbox 360 and Windows Vista. Year two of the campaign will continue with the support of these partners and others such as the National PTA to educate families on parental controls, including the new Xbox 360 Family Timer, distribute a family guide called “Safety is no game. Is your family set? A Family Guide to
Video Games and Entertainment” and a PACT — a family contract intended to foster discussion between parents and children on interactive entertainment choices.
About Xbox 360
Xbox 360 is a superior video game and entertainment system delivering the best games, unique entertainment features and a unified online gaming network that revolve around gamers. Xbox 360 will have a portfolio of more than 300 games and will be available in nearly 40 countries by the end of 2007. More information can be found online at http://www.xbox.com/xbox360.
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