Microsoft releases the Xbox Gaming Safety Toolkit

 |   Courtney Gregoire, Chief Digital Safety Officer

At Microsoft, we take our responsibility to keep users safe on our services and to contribute to building a safer online ecosystem very seriously. Enabling safe experiences online is critical to Microsoft’s mission to empower every individual and organization on the planet to achieve more.

The safety of our players and community is central to everything that we do at Xbox. We recognise that parents and caregivers are increasingly concerned about children’s safety in the digital world, and equally that understanding the breadth of safety issues can be overwhelming.

In response to this, today, we are releasing a brand-new resource for parents and caregivers in Australia and New Zealand. The Xbox Gaming Safety Toolkit provides carers with an overview of common safety risks as well as practical advice for responding and enhancing safety.

Microsoft, and by extension Xbox, takes a holistic approach to safety on our services. This centres on the idea that safety requires engagement from everyone including platforms and players. When children are gaming, there is also a critical need for parents and caregivers to be involved in their gaming experience.

In our first ever Xbox Transparency Report released in November last year, we outlined what we do behind the scenes to protect our players and moderate content on our platform. The new toolkit complements this by providing clear guidance for parents and caregivers on steps they can take to better understand the gaming ecosystem, common safety risks, and the tools and controls available on Xbox.

In the toolkit, we spotlight the parental and player controls available on Xbox, including within the Xbox Family Settings App. We emphasise that parental controls are part of a holistic approach to online safety and are most effective when used to support existing rules and boundaries that parents and caregivers discuss and agree with their kids.

Designed with input from trusted organisations

To develop the toolkit, we sought the advice and support of a range of government and civil society organisations across Australia and New Zealand with expertise in children’s online safety. We wanted their perspectives on how to create messages and instructions that would be easy for parents to follow, whilst also providing a balanced view of the benefits and potential risks of gaming. These organisations already provide helpful safety advice for a range of audiences, so within the toolkit we link to their resources too.

The organisations that helped us design the toolkit include:

  • Office for Classification of Film and Literature
  • Netsafe
  • Interactive Gaming and Entertainment Association (IGEA)

With the support of these organisations, we structured the toolkit into two key sections. The first section provides an overview of parental controls and holistic online safety tips including being involved in kids’ gaming and encouraging respectful interactions. The second part of the toolkit is focused on age-specific advice with four key stages. For each age group we outline three key steps – Learn, Explore and Support. We’ve also included case studies to help bring to life the different ways that gaming risks can manifest and the types of tools that can be used to help respond to and mitigate these risks.

Quotes from supporting organisations in New Zealand

“Safety in everyday gaming is a priority for every parent. Helping parents to understand and make use of safety features is important work that we champion and strive for in our mahi. We support and celebrate Microsoft’s toolkit, as we do any gaming and streaming platform highlighting the ways to make entertainment safe for everyone. This toolkit is practical and features age-appropriate case studies that are eye-opening and incredibly relevant.” – Chief Censor Caroline Flora, Te Mana Whakaatu – Classification Office.

“Gaming in the home continues to be something we want to enable young people to participate in safely and positively. Building on our original Gaming Toolkit, this Xbox toolkit gives whānau the knowledge of how to keep their families safe on those devices, but also supports them to have the important conversations at home, and how the rules and expectations at home can safely mature as children grow into young adults. We would encourage more platforms to put resources into this type of harm prevention education, and to include us in the process – as Microsoft have done – so we can provide insights and share the messages widely through our work with local families and schools.” Leanne Ross, Chief Customer Officer, Netsafe

“IGEA is pleased to have supported the development of the Xbox Gaming Safety Toolkit. This comprehensive resource will provide parents and caregivers of gamers to better understand the digital ecosystem and the steps they can take to keep their children safe when playing games online. Whilst this resource focuses on Xbox, it is a useful toolkit that can be used to understand common concerns across any platform.” Ron Curry, CEO IGEA

We would like to thank the organisations for their help and support in creating this resource and look forward to sharing the Xbox Gaming Safety Toolkit with families in Australia and New Zealand.