Nintendo is a studio that has long been associated with family-friendly titles and consoles that encourage those of all ages to enjoy gaming together. This family-focused attitude extends into the practicalities of setting up parental controls on your Switch or Switch Lite.
Parental controls have been even easier by introducing an app that allows you to control everything you need all with a few clicks, right on your phone or tablet. This means that you don’t need to worry about anyone undoing all your settings – either accidentally or deliberately. Having them on your own separate device gives you total control and peace of mind.
How To Get The Nintendo Switch Parental Controls App
You can download the app on the Apple Store or Google Play. If searching the store on your device search for "Nintendo Switch Parental Controls" then simply look for the image above, with the orange logo and photos of Bowser – a Nintendo character from the Mario Series.
You’ll need a Nintendo Account to use the app so if you don’t have one yet be sure to follow our guide to setting one up. You'll also need to set up child accounts and link them using a family group. The process for this is also detailed in the account set-up guide.
How To Set Up The Nintendo Switch Parental Controls App
Once the app is downloaded you’ll need to link it to your Switch by doing the following:
- Turn on the Switch
- Press A to get to the Home Screen
- Select the System Settings
- Choose Parental Controls
- Choose Already Downloaded the App
- Enter the Code on your Smart Device
Don’t worry if you’ve never used the console before as the Nintendo website also includes a video about the parental controls, which you can also view during this setup process. It also has screenshots of each step in the app so you can follow it through as you go.
How To Set Parental Controls For The Nintendo Switch
Once your app is connected you can now set time limits, add restrictions to online play, and ensure purchases can’t be accidentally made.
How To Set Play Time Limits On The Nintendo Switch App
This setting allows you to set the following:
- A limit on time used per day (set in 15-minute increments)
- A time the console must be turned off
If you have both set then the console will notify the user that time is up when one of these limits is reached. You can set different limits per day of the week, allowing for more flexibility at weekends.
If the console remains on after the time limit you will be notified on your app. You can also check the box that automatically suspends software when the time limit is reached. Just be aware that this may mean some game progress is not saved, depending on the title.
If your child is playing an online game with rounds, or something which does not frequently autosave we recommend just using the timer. If you set it slightly earlier than you want them to come off you can always close off access remotely if they don't log off within a reasonable time of being notified.
Restriction Levels On The Nintendo Switch App
This allows you to set limits on other features of the console and has suggested recommendations for young child, child, and teen. You can also set up a completely custom profile. Here’s what it changes:
- Restricted Software – Here you can choose the most appropriate rating system for your country. You then select the level of content you want to restrict. Whatever age you select it will prevent that user from playing anything for that age or above.
- Restrict Posting Screenshots/Videos on Social Networks – This will prevent users from being able to post any images or videos they take onto social networks.
- Restrict Communication Features – This allows you to disable communication with others through audio or text chat on a per-game basis.
- VR Mod (3D Visuals) – This allows you to turn off VR mode and is recommended for children under the age of 6.
Setting Up PIN Numbers And Security On The Nintendo Switch App
You can set up a pin to allow restrictions to be removed. This is viewable and changeable in the app. Make sure this is something unique your kids won’t be able to guess. For instance, if you use the birthday of anyone in your house then an older child will likely be onto that within a day. Even if you think you can trust them, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Having an easily guessable pin is a huge temptation.
To prevent anyone from using the app you can lock it by following these steps:
- On the main page click the circular cog in the top right-hand corner
- Select Lock App
- Turn on Lock Using Touch ID
- The app will now require your Touch ID in order to be opened.
What Else Can I Do With The Nintendo Parental Controls App?
Once the app is connected it will also monitor all activity on the connected console, so you'll soon know if your restrictions have been bypassed.
If you need to connect an additional device, such as a Switch Lite, you can select the + icon in the top left of the screen and connect it following the same steps as you did before. Each console has unique settings so you can tailor them to the person using it. This is especially helpful if you have more than one child with a Switch Lite.
Setting Spend Limits On The Nintendo eShop
Limits on spending are set through the Nintendo Family Group. First, go to Nintendo's Website and sign in. You should then see your account details and some options down the left-hand side. From here choose Family Group.
Your details should be displayed at the top with any associated child accounts below. For each child, you can apply settings to restrict spending in the eShop. You can either disable all purchases, or you can disable purchases of software over a specific age. This means that nothing can be purchased without using the parental account's password. The parental account will also require the same password to make purchases.
The parental controls that are enabled are summarised on each child's profile.
To further minimise the chance of errors you can also click on your own profile and choose Shop Menu. This will take you to a page displaying all the linked payment methods. If you have no payment methods saved then purchases can only be made by re-entering card or PayPal details.
On this same page, you can also click "Information About Account Activity" to receive a full list of all purchases made on any account in the Family Group.
Once this setup has been completed you can monitor console usage and purchases giving you peace of mind that your family is safely and sensibly using the console to enjoy gaming together.
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