Microsoft announced today that the long-rumored Family Timer
will be released onto the Xbox 360 as part of a joint initiative with the PTA and Jerry Rice. The Family Timer will work similar to it's Vista counterpart and have per-day or per-week restrictions. Along with the family-friendly content announced a few weeks ago, Microsoft keeps adding reasons for parents to want the Xbox 360 to be in tehir home for their children's entertainment.
Microsoft, PTA and Super Bowl Champion Jerry Rice Announce New Tools to Help Parents Manage Kids’ Interactive Media Use
Xbox 360 Debuts Video Game Industry’s First and Only “Family Timer.”
Washington, D.C. — Nov. 7, 2007 — Microsoft Corp., The Parent Teacher Association (PTA) and Super Bowl Champion Jerry Rice joined forces today to unveil new parent tools as part of the second year of the “Safety is no game. Is your family set?” campaign. They include a “PACT,” a family contract intended to foster family discussion surrounding screen time guidelines, as well as a new parental control feature, the Xbox 360 Family Timer. The Family Timer will enable parents for the first time to set the appropriate amount of gaming and entertainment time for their kids, on a daily or weekly basis.
“As a leader in interactive entertainment, it’s Microsoft’s responsibility to provide parents with tools they can use to manage their children’s video gaming and online experiences, and we have made that a priority from the very start,” said Robbie Bach, president of Entertainment and Devices Division at Microsoft.
Through this all-new educational partnership, millions of PTA members nationwide will receive information on the fundamentals of the campaign, which encourages a balanced approach to interactive media use and families to come to an agreement on how their children spend their screen time.
“As times change and technology advances, the role of the parent stays the same in raising a safe, healthy, and successful child,” said PTA CEO Warlene Gary. “PTA is proud to partner with Microsoft to provide parents with more resources that keep them involved in their children’s lives. Using the PACT will help parents and children talk about and agree on interactive media use.”
The family PACT is a comprehensive, proactive approach to setting rules on media use and asks parents and children to agree on the level of Parental involvement; the amount of Access children can have, including who they are allowed to play and interact with online; the types of Content children are allowed to play or watch, and the amount of Time children can use media. The family PACT is available for immediate download at http://www.xbox.com/isyourfamilyset..
Another all-new parental tool unveiled today is the Xbox 360 Family Timer, an addition to the console’s existing set of industry-leading parental control features. Similar to its Windows Vista counterpart, the new Xbox 360 Family Timer can restrict children’s activity time and can be set on a per-day or per-week basis. Helpful “notifications” will appear to warn the gamer that the session is nearing the end and the feature will automatically turn off the console when a pre-determined time limit has been exceeded. The Family Timer feature will be available for download via Xbox LIVE in early December.
Microsoft expects the news of the Family Timer to be received very favorably by parents based on independent* research it unveiled today that showed 62 percent of parents would welcome a tool to control the amount of time that children can use the video game consoles in their homes.
Bach, along with PTA CEO Warlene Gary and Super Bowl Champion and “Dancing with the Stars” finalist Jerry Rice talked to more than 400 students and parents gathered at Stuart-Hobson Middle School in Washington, D.C. today about the benefits of being a kid in the digital age and the challenges parents can face in navigating this complex new world.
The independent research sponsored by Microsoft released today asked parents a series of questions related to their children’s use of digital media and represented feedback from 800 parents of children between the ages of five and 17 who have a video game console in their home. The research showed that 45 percent of parents say that enforcing rules about their children’s media consumption creates tension at home. Nearly all families (99 percent) have some rules, but less than half (47 percent) have comprehensive rules concerning access, content and time. The research revealed that only 16 percent of families actually put media use rules in writing, and 40 percent involve children in related discussions.
Rice spoke to the middle school crowd about how important it is to have balance to be successful. “I’m a Super Bowl Champion and ‘Dancing with the Stars’ finalist, but my most important accomplishment in life is being a father,” Rice said. “I try to teach my kids no matter what they do, they have to find a balance between work and fun. That’s why it’s so rewarding for me to join Microsoft and the PTA today to promote a healthy balance for our kids in this exciting digital age.”
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 which games work for them, make informed choices about content, and decide who their children can play with online. Earlier this year, Windows Vista launched with a set of similar 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, which websites they can visit—and when.
“We’ve seen a tremendous response to the robust parental controls offered on Xbox 360 and Windows Vista, and the Xbox 360 Family Timer will continue to deliver on our promise to provide safer, balanced and fun entertainment for everyone,” said Bach. “Professionally, I am proud of my division’s work in this area, and personally, as a parent of three school-age children, I know how important it is to be engaged in an ongoing dialogue with my family in order to uphold our household screen time rules.”
According to Bach, with more than 13 million Xbox 360® consoles sold, 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 PTA.
PTA comprises more than 5.5 million parents and other concerned adults devoted to the educational success of children and the promotion of parent involvement in schools. PTA flourishes in more than 25,000 school communities nationwide by harnessing the energy and talents of millions of volunteers to be: voices for all children; relevant resources for families and communities; and champions for the education and well-being of every child. PTA is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Membership in PTA is open to anyone who is concerned about the education, health, and welfare of children and youth. Visit www.PTA.org for more information.
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.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
*About the Survey
In a national random digit dial telephone survey conducted by The Glover Park Group for Microsoft from October 22 – November 4, 2007, The Glover Park Group asked parents a series of questions related to their children’s use of media. The survey represents the views of 800 parents of children five to 17 years of age. In addition, all households included in the survey had a video game console. With a sample of this size, one can say with 95% certainty that the results have a sampling error of +/‐ 4 percentage points of what they would be if the entire population of these parents had been polled with complete accuracy.