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How to Set Parental Controls on the Nintendo Switch

Use these settings to help make gaming safer for kids.

In a field including the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4, the Nintendo Switch comes out as the best game console for families with younger kids. Its ultra-user-friendly design, wide selection of kid-appropriate games (including the cardboard-building and programming Labo kits), and ability to bring it along wherever you go make it a smart "starter" system the whole family can play together. Nintendo also pioneered the idea of parental controls for gaming (the Wii had them, and so does the 3DS).

While you can set parental controls on the console itself, the Switch Parental Controls app offers more settings. Learn more about using parental controls. To use the app, download and launch the Switch app from the app store. Create a Nintendo account, if you haven't already, and link the app to your device.

Here's a quick guide to key settings to enable parental controls on the Nintendo Switch:

Time Limits

How to set time limits on the Nintendo Switch system using the Nintendo Switch Parental Controls app
With the Switch's Play-Time Limits, you can either trust your kids to stop playing when they've hit their limit or enable Suspend Software which shuts down the device automatically.

  1. Open the parental controls app.
  2. Tap Console Settings in the upper-right corner. Create a PIN that only you know and your kids can't guess.
  3. In Console Settings, tap Play-Time Limit. Set a daily limit (up to six hours) on the amount of time your kids can play.
  4. You have the option of shutting down the device when your kids reach their daily limit by enabling Suspend Software. Otherwise, kids just get a notification that they've reached the limit but can still play.
  5. You can also enable a Bedtime Alarm to shut down the device at a certain time each day. (If you have both a Play-Time Limit and a Bedtime Alarm set, the system uses whichever comes first.)
  6. Confirm and save your settings.

Chat

How to turn off voice chat on the Nintendo Switch system using the Nintendo Switch Parental Controls app
You can also turn off other social features.

  1. Open the Switch Parental Controls app and tap Console Settings.
  2. Tap Restriction Level. You can either select one of the age presets, which automatically disables social features for kids 12 and under, or select Custom to manually adjust the settings.
  3. Under Restriction Level you can turn off Communicating with Others and Posting to Social Media.
  4. Confirm and save your settings.

Mature Content

How to limit mature content on the Nintendo Switch system using the Nintendo Switch Parental Controls app
This will prevent kids from being able to play Mature-rated games.

  1. Open the Switch Parental Controls app and tap Console Settings.
  2. Tap Restriction Level. Select one of the age presets (Child, Pre-Teen, or Teen), which automatically restricts certain features, such as chatting and posting to social media, and limits games based on their ESRB ratings. If you want to manually select an age instead of using the presets, select Custom Settings, tap Restricted Software, and choose the age for which you want to restrict content.
  3. You can add games to the "Whitelist" to make them playable for all ages, regardless of their rating.
  4. Confirm and save your settings.

Purchasing

How to restrict Nintendo eShop purchases on the Nintendo Switch system using the Nintendo Switch Parental Controls app
This will block spending and auto-renewals on both the Nintendo eShop and on Nintendo.com.

  1. Open the Nintendo Switch Parental Controls app.
  2. Tap on Console Settings.
  3. Toward the bottom of the screen below where it says "ATTENTION," click on the link to Parental Controls in Nintendo Account.
  4. Select your child's Nintendo account.
  5. Select Spending/Purchases on Nintendo Switch eShop and Nintendo.com.
  6. Check the box to disable purchases.
  7. Confirm and save your changes.
Caroline Knorr
Caroline is Common Sense Media's former parenting editor. She has many years of editorial and creative marketing writing experience and has held senior-level positions at Walmart.com, Walmart stores, Cnet, and Bay Area Parent magazine. She specializes in translating complex information into bite-sized chunks to help families make informed choices about what their kids watch, play, read, and do.