New Xbox timer limits gamers' screen time
Microsoft's Xbox 360 Family Timer, downloadable in early December, allows parents to set daily or weekly limits on kids' console time.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Leading up to the winter holidays, Microsoft unveiled a new tool for its Xbox 360 video game console allowing parents to limit the amount of time kids spend on video games.
The Xbox 360 Family Timer, launched Wednesday with the support of Parent Teacher Association and Super Bowl champion Jerry Rice, allows parents to set daily or weekly limits on the amount of gaming and entertainment time spent using the console.
Xbox players using consoles equipped with the timer will receive notifications when a gaming session is nearing an end, and the feature will automatically turn off the console when the pre-set time limit has been exceeded.
The Family Timer, which can be used in addition to the console's built-in parental controls, will be available for download via Xbox LIVE in early December, the company said. Xbox was the first video game and entertainment system with built-in parental controls for both online and offline use.
Microsoft also introduced the family PACT, a contract to help families set rules on media use, the degree of parental involvement, specific content children are allowed to play and watch and the time they are allowed to spend using interactive media.
The tools come as part of a move to encourage a more balanced approach to interactive media use amid worries that kids are spending too much time indoors in front of the TV and not enough time with family or outdoors playing.
"As a leader in interactive entertainment, it's Microsoft's (Charts, Fortune 500) 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 the Entertainment & Devices Division at Microsoft.