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How to set up Nintendo Switch parental controls

Compared to a PS5 or Xbox, Nintendo consoles are unquestionably the most family-friendly of the three. Nintendo has prided itself on making a console that the entire family can play.
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child playing on Nintendo Switch

There are still many games that are not suitable for every age group. Just like the competition, Nintendo has included parental controls to help parents keep their kids safe online. 

This guide will help you to set up and use parental controls on your Switch. Click to see our guides on how to set up parental controls on your PlayStation or how to set up parental controls on your Xbox.

How to set up Nintendo Switch parental controls

Though you can set up and use Nintendo Switch parental controls on your console, you will be advised during the process that some functions are not available without the Nintendo parental controls app. For example, you cannot set play limits, gaming bedtime alarms, or see gaming activity without using the companion app. 

To set up your parental controls on your console:

  • Turn on your console first

  • On the Switch home screen go to ‘system settings’ then scroll down to ‘parental controls’

  • Select Parental control settings on the right-hand side, you may be asked to close all other programs running in the background

  • Here you will be offered a chance to download the app to your mobile device

  • If you would prefer not to use the app skip this step with the X button

  • This will take you to a screen where you can manually configure your restrictions one by one

Switch01 - System settings - Parental controls

How to set up the Nintendo Switch Controls app

Parental controls can be set up on the console directly, but using the app grants a few more control options and is probably the better, easier choice. The first thing you will need to do is download the Nintendo parental controls app which you can get on your android device via the play store or the Apple store for iPhones. 

  • Once you have downloaded the app, you will then need to create an account and log in.

  • You’ll then be asked to use this account and confirm.

  • Now a registration code will appear on screen (remember this code for future use).

  • Keep your Switch nearby as you need to turn it on and make sure it’s connected to the same Wi-Fi as your device. 

  • On the home screen select ‘system settings’ and scroll down to parental controls.

  • Here you must choose to set up using your smart device (your phone).

  • Follow the instructions until you are prompted to enter your registration code from earlier, then click ‘register’ to link your phone to your Nintendo Switch.

  • Now you can access your Nintendo Switch Parental controls.

  • You can choose from pre-set options, including child, pre-teen, teen or custom. This will apply across all accounts registered.

  • After adjustments have been made, you must click save.

  • To apply these changes, on the parental control’s settings screen on your console, click ‘acquire latest settings’ to finish.

Switch app01 - Sign into your Nintendo account
Switch app02 - Set daily play time limit
Switch app03 - Select restriction level

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How to change parental controls on your Nintendo Switch

While the best way to change your parental controls setting would be via the app as there are more options you can toggle on or off, you can make a number of changes directly on your Switch console. There also aren’t as many options as offered on the PS5 app or the Xbox app.

To change your parental controls, open your Switch parental controls app.

  • Tap on the setting buttons (the cog in the top right corner)

  • Choose from the list of controls available

  • Playtime limits, Restriction level or PIN which can be used to turn all controls on and off

  • Once selected you can now toggle various restrictions on and off

  • When finished, remember to tap ‘save’ for changes to take effect. 

How to reset Nintendo Switch with parental controls

On the app, you can disable all time limits and restrictions with the master PIN. This essentially turns off Nintendo Switch’s parental controls. To set up the master PIN, in the app settings choose PIN and set up a numerical PIN number. With this set-up, you’ll now be able to turn on or off all parental controls and approve purchases and extend playtime.

How to delete Nintendo Switch parental controls

If you wanted to remove or delete parental controls, you could follow the steps above and use a master PIN to disable your controls or you can delete parental controls entirely. 

  • On your consoles home screen, select system settings

  • Scroll down to parental controls

  • You’ll see a button that says ‘unlink’

  • Then enter your master PIN to sever the link from your phone to your console

*Note that if you haven’t set up a master PIN, a PIN is still required to unlink the two devices, and a default code can be found on the PIN page within the Switch parental controls app. The option to change the PIN can also be found here.

What can Nintendo Switch parental controls do?

There are a few functions available to use within the parental controls screen. 

  • Playtime limits can be set to restrict playing time and will notify the user that their allotted time for that day has ended. This time is predetermined by you when you initially set up this restriction. You will also receive a notification letting you know your child has reached the limit you set. At this point, the console can go into sleep mode automatically or you can turn it off remotely using the ‘suspend software’ button in the app.

  • Restrict any purchases made will stop any purchases of games and apps from being made without the main account holders’ permission.

  • Bedtime alarm automatically alerts your child that it is time to turn off the console. You will be alerted that the play limit has been reached and you will be updated on any play over the time allocated. You can see how long they continued gaming, or you can remotely switch the console into sleep mode to stop any further play.

  • Restriction level/software allows you to restrict titles based on your children’s age as per PEGI (Pan European Game Information) ratings. An overall setting can be set for the console, or you can manually choose to allow specific games if you wish. See our Parent’s guide to gaming to find out more about PEGI ratings and what to expect from each category.

  • Communications with others can be limited or banned completely. This includes sending and receiving messages, screenshots, or video captures. 

  • Posting on social media can also be restricted as this is seen as a communication with others. So linking social media accounts to your kid's Nintendo Switch account can be prohibited.

  • Whitelisting a game lets you add specific games that you want to make available regardless of parental controls placed on the console.

  • VR Headset gives you the option to allow Virtual Reality functions or deny them. 

How can I reduce the time my child spends on Nintendo Switch?

To reduce the amount of time your child spends on Nintendo Switch, it’s simply a case of using the app function and setting the time limits you see fit. Open the app and go to your settings, and select playtime limits. Here you can set how many hours of gameplay will be allowed in a 24-hour period, you can set it for the entire week, or you can adjust it per day, to allow for an extended time at the weekends for example.

How can I stop my child from using Nintendo Switch after bedtime?

To set a bedtime alarm, you can do so by following the instructions above, however, instead of choosing playtime limits, you can select Bedtime alarm. Here you can set an alarm that will notify your child that they are playing beyond the time you have set. At this point they can stop playing by choice or the main account holder can ‘suspend software’ remotely meaning you can forbid any further gameplay until the next day or when you are ready to allow it. 

*It is worth noting that if your child hasn’t saved their in-game data, suspending gameplay could lose them some progress.

How can I check if my child is playing age-appropriate games?

On the Nintendo Switch Parental control app you can receive monthly reports telling you how much time your family is playing, what games they are playing and information on whether the game is age appropriate for the current users. 

How can I stop my child from communicating with others on their Nintendo device?

Having the ability to stop your youngster from communicating with strangers is a valuable tool of any parental control service. This function can be applied on the console directly or via the app. 

  • Go into your parental controls in the system setting on your console

  • Select parental control settings

  • Press X to access controls without using the app

  • Click restriction level ‘custom’ 

  • Scroll down to ‘free communication with others’ and select restrict

  • From here you can restrict all communication, games, or apps universally or individually.

How do I stop my child from accessing social media through Nintendo Switch?

The Nintendo Switch doesn’t include a web browser as standard. But that doesn’t mean your child can’t post things to their social media accounts and make connections to strangers. As a parent, you can forbid any communication with other gamers but also you can prevent any pictures or video captures from being uploaded to their social media. This can be easily done with Nintendo Switch parental controls, both on the app and on the console.

How do I restrict spending on my Nintendo Switch?

You can restrict any purchases made on your eShop quite easily. When first entering the eShop under your account, you are given the option to allow or deny a password being needed to make a purchase. If later you wish to change your mind you can adjust it through the following steps

  • Launch system settings from the console home screen

  • Scroll down and select users

  • Select the account you wish to change eShop password requirements to

  • Choose eShop settings

  • On password-entry settings select change

  • Then save and exit

How do I restrict spending on my child’s Nintendo device?

To apply spending restrictions on your child’s Nintendo device, you must first invite members of your family group via the Nintendo website. Once you’ve signed into your account you must select add members to your ‘family group,’ and an email address for any new user accounts will be required. For a child under the age of 15, a ‘child account’ must be set up. 

Once completed your account will be displayed along with any accounts paired underneath. For each account, you can choose to apply eShop restrictions. You can disable all purchases or just purchases outside the age limits of the child user. Now nothing will be able to be bought without the main user’s password. 

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