Nintendo Switch Parental Controls: Is Nintendo Switch Safe for Kids?

By Andrea Nelson
April 18, 2024
child using device with nintendo switch parental controls

Is your kid as obsessed with Nintendo Switch as mine is? Maybe they’re always asking to play online with friends. If so, you might be wondering about Nintendo Switch parental controls and other measures to keep your child safe while playing. Read on to learn how to help your child enjoy Nintendo Switch safely.  

What is Nintendo Switch? 

Nintendo Switch is a three-in-one gaming system which has standard console play, portable console play, and the ability to turn into a handheld device. Switch users can also play together online. 

Here’s how it all breaks down:  

  • TV mode: Plug the Switch into your TV for standard console play. 
  • Handheld mode: The center portion of the Switch console can be lifted out, transforming it into a portable, handheld system.
  • Tabletop mode: The handheld device includes a stand to turn it into a freestanding screen. Auxiliary controllers can be connected for multiplayer fun on-the-go. 
  • Nintendo Switch Lite: This is a handheld-only version of the system. Unlike the regular Switch, the Switch Lite can’t be used as a tabletop console or connect to your TV. 
  • Nintendo Switch Online: Nintendo Switch Online is a subscription service that lets users play with friends, family, or other players from around the world. 

Nintendo Switch age range

Around 8 years old is a good benchmark to start playing Switch. However, it also depends on your child’s maturity level, ability to take care of an expensive system, and willingness to follow your safety rules — like only playing games you allow and not talking to strangers online. 

With that said, the Nintendo Switch has a wide variety of games appropriate for kids of all ages. (Adults, too! I think my husband is more obsessed with our Switch than our son.) Check the recommended age range before your child begins playing a new game, and consider playing it yourself or watching them play.

Nintendo Switch parental controls

Video games have come a long way since you were a kid. Fortunately, so have parental controls. To set parental controls, first download the Nintendo Switch Parental Controls app to your mobile device. Follow the prompts to connect your account to your Switch. 

Here’s how to keep your kid safe on Nintendo Switch:

Parental controls on the Nintendo Switch device 

  • Play-time Limit: The player’s alerted when they reach their limit. You can also set it so the system automatically interrupts the game instead. 
  • Content Restriction Levels: You can choose from preset restriction levels (Child, Pre-Teen, or Teen), which limit the games your child can play based on their age range. 
  • Posting to Social Media: It’s pretty common to share gameplay screenshots and videos to social media. The Child and Pre-Teen restriction levels automatically restrict your child from posting to social media through their Switch. 
  • VR Mode (3D Visuals): Only the Child restriction level blocks the use of Virtual Reality. 

Parental controls for Nintendo Switch Online 

Nintendo Switch Online introduces additional concerns because of the ability to play and communicate with other users, including strangers

Luckily, you can use the Parental Controls app to safeguard this aspect as well. The Child and Pre-Teen content restriction levels prevent your kid from using voice chat and sending messages and images to other players. 

Customizing Nintendo Switch parental controls 

If you prefer not to rely on the preset age ranges, there are several customization options:

  • Custom settings: Here you can select an exact age for content restrictions and choose if your child can post to social media, use VR Mode, or communicate with others, regardless of their age.  
  • “Whitelisted” games: If your child wants to play a game that isn’t approved for their age level, you can “whitelist” it so that content restrictions don’t apply for that game. 
  • Parental Controls PIN: Parental controls apply to the entire system, not individual users. It’s best to set them with the youngest user in mind. If you have older players in the house, you can set a PIN which temporarily overrides Parental Controls. 

Staying informed 

Through the Parental Controls app, you can also: 

  • View which games each user has played and for how long
  • Get monthly play reports
  • Receive an alert if your child ignores their playtime alarm (busted!)

Other Nintendo Switch safety considerations

If your child gets really into a game, they might seek out more information on it, like watching video game playthroughs on YouTube or Googling game tips. These are fun, but could expose your kid to language and content you may not be comfortable with. 

Use BrightCanary to supervise your child’s activity on YouTube, Google, and other platforms. It’s the perfect companion to the Switch’s parental controls because it covers the other websites and apps your child is most likely to use.

The bottom line

Nintendo Switch is not without risk, but by utilizing parental controls and talking to your child about how to stay safe, it can be a fun gaming experience for kids. 

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