Christmas tech: how to set up child-friendly accounts

Day four: keeping your children safe online when using games consoles or video services

Got a new Playstation or Xbox for Christmas and need to know how to set up a child’s account? Or is the boredom is starting to set in, meaning that you are looking to Netflix to help keep the troops entertained? Read on to find out how to lock down services and devices for kids.

iPhone and iPad

On devices running iOS, you can use restrictions to control what your child can do on the device.

To access the restrictions menu, go to Settings>Screentime. From here, you can set time limits for apps, schedule “down time” for the device, and and select Enable restrictions. You can also set limits for anyone listed as family with a child account, and put a screen time passcode on it to stop them from changing it without your knowledge.

Once you have the code chosen and confirmed, you will then be permitted to block everything from access to Safari and the camera, to the ability to install and delete apps.


There are also individual controls that allow you to block certain ratings of films, from 18-rated movies down to 12 and PG titles. The same goes for TV programmes, books, apps and websites, and you can choose to block specific sites, or allow a list of approved sites.

You can also lock out content rated as explicit in musics, podcasts, news and iTunes U, although that depends on the content being categorised correctly. And you can block multiplayer games too.

Siri can also be blocked from explicit language - which, let’s face it, takes half the fun out of using the digital assistant as it is.

Look a bit further down and you’ll see that you can stop people making changes to mobile data settings, or even the volume limit on the device.


Android tablets with newer versions of the software have the ability to set up user profiles that will disable many of the features that you would rather your child didn’t access.

To set up a new profile for your child, open Settings>Device>Users>Add new user or profile. That will give the option of setting up a restricted profile. To name it, tap New profile, put in the name and select OK. You will see a list of apps with switches next to their names; simply choose the ones you want to allow access to.

Only the device owner can set up new profiles, and it’s important they you set some sort of lock on the master profile, or else your child will quickly figure out how to switch back to your unrestricted profile.

You can also use Family Link, which is an app that Google has designed for its Android devices. You'll need the parent version of the app on your phone, which is available for iOS 9 and over in addition to Android devices, and the child and teen version for your child's device. You'll also need access to your child's device to link the two.

Once you have downloaded the apps on to both devices, follow the onscreen instructions. Your child’s device will be linked to your family account, and through the Family Link app you will be able to keep an eye on what they’re doing in addition to putting in restrictions on content, apps and other settings.

As another option, you can download a third-party app from the Play Store, such as iKydz. That gives you the ability to control access to the internet, both time-wise and content, from an app on your phone.


To set up a child's account on Xbox, you'll need an adult Microsoft account. Go to Microsoft's site to set up an account. Once you are signed in, choose Family, then Add member. You will be prompted to set up an account for an adult or a child.

Choose child, and enter the appropriate information. They will be invited to become a member of your Microsoft family, which will allow you to keep an eye on their screen time, set content limits and other restrictions, in addition to giving them money to buy games in the Microsoft store.

If they don’t have a Microsoft account, you will have to verify that they have parental permission to set one up by logging into your own account.


To set up a child’s account, you’ll need a master account first.

On the console:

Press the PS button on the PlayStation 4 controller. If there are no local accounts created on the console, create a new user. If you have already set up your own local account, select that one. Accept the user agreement, and you’ll be taken to the Sign in to the PlayStation Network, then select Create an account. Follow the instructions to set up your account. You’ll need to verify your account through an email link sent to your chosen email address. Once you’ve done that, you can sign in to your account on the console.

To set up PSN account on a browser:

You’ll need an email address to create an account. On your web browser, go to the website and click Sign In at the top of the screen, and then click Create account. Click Start, and follow the instructions.

You’ll need to verify your account through an email link sent to your chosen email address.

To set up a sub account:

Next step is to set up a sub account for your child. These are designed for children between seven and 17 years old.

If your under-18 player creates a master account using a fake date of birth, that account could get banned.That means any trophies and content that has been bought under that ID would be lost as a result. It’s a risk. Those under 13 will have to have the sub account created created for them.

Creating a sub account will not only stop your child from accessing unsuitable content, determined by age ratings, but it can also lock out the account from making purchases without permission - no bill shock for you if you’ve put in your credit card details.

First, sign in to your account on the PS4 console. Go to Settings (the toolbox icon)> Parental controls>Sub account management>create a new sub account. Press X.

Select Next>Register user. Enter the details requested and wait for the email confirmation of the account set up. There will be a link included to verify the account; that has to be used within 24 hours or it expires.

Once you have verified the account, your child can log in with their own details.

To set up parental controls:

On the console, go to Settings>Parental controls>Restrict use of PS4 features. From this menu, you can set restrictions for the use of games, DVD movies, Blu-ray playback, internet browser, and so on.

Nintendo Switch

To set up a Nintendo account for a child, you must first set up a parent account. To do this, go to the Nintendo account website, and select Create a Nintendo account. Follow the on-screen instructions.

Once you have the adult account set up, you can create the child’s account. Sign in to your Nintendo account, select Family Group>Add member> Create a child account. Enter your child’s information, confirm it, and select OK.


If the account is for a child under a certain age, and you have a spare slot on your profiles list, it’s simple to set controls that will strip out anything remotely adult. When you add the profile first, there is a “kid” check box beside the profile. Checking this will ensure that the profile is set to a child’s one by default.

If you don’t have the available slots to set up a dedicated child’s profile, you can easily keep them away from content they shouldn’t access. For older children and teenagers, you can set access to a certain level of content - Netflix divides it into Little Kids, Older Kids, Teens and Adults - and protect it with a PIN. To access anything above the level you set, you’ll need to enter the PIN. Little Kids can only access content rated a G, older kids will add PG into the mix, and Teens accounts can access anything except 18-rated content.

To access this, go to the Menu on the top right corner, then access Account>Parental controls. You’ll have to confirm your password to proceed. You can then set a PIN and the level of parental control you want to impose, or lock out specific titles. Click Save.

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist