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How to Set Up the Parental Controls App for Nintendo Switch

Nintendo pays close attention to the age of its users, and the newly launched Nintendo Switch is no exception. Nintendo’s new console includes a suite of parental controls that link up through a separate smart device. You’ll access most of these controls via the Nintendo Switch Parental Controls app, provided for free for Android and iOS (opens in new tab).

Before starting, it’s important to note that some features will require your Nintendo Switch to be connected to the internet for the parental controls app to actively monitor things like play time limitations. You’ll also need an internet connection initially to apply any restrictions from the app to the console. Once you’ve applied restrictions, the Switch console will keep those settings even if your child takes the console away from a Wi-Fi connection.

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Here’s how to set up your console with the Nintendo Switch Parental Controls app app to get access features like game rating restrictions and play time limitations:

1. Find Parental Controls in the System Settings menu on your Nintendo Switch. Just select the gear icon on the home screen to open the System Settings menu; you’ll find the Parental Controls option there.

2. Download the Nintendo Switch Parent Controls app onto an Android or iOS device.

3. Once installed on your smart device, sign into the app with your Nintendo Account (or create an account if you don’t already have one). You’ll need to have the same Nintendo Account associated with the Switch console you wish to control.

4. Enter the registration code sent by the Parental Controls App into the Switch console. This will link the console to the app.

5. Set content restrictions. Once the app and console are linked, you’re ready to begin setting the types of restrictions you think are best for your child. Software ratings are categorized generally by None, Teen, Pre-Teen, Child, and Custom. The custom option lets you pick the exact age rating limits from “18+” through “3+”.

The app even lets you choose which ratings organization to base the restrictions around.

6. Set restrictions for posting to social media. This blocks your child from using the built-in Facebook and Twitter screenshot sharing functions.

7. Set restrictions for communications.This keeps your child from seeing user-generated posts and turns off any chat functions a game may have.

8. Set play time limits. After setting content rating and social media restrictions, you can now monitor and setup time limitations starting at “No Limit” then at 15-minute intervals up to 6 hours. You can also set limitations independently by day — allowing more time on weekends for example.

Once you child hits the preset time limit, the Switch console will notify your child that time is up with an alarm at the top of the screen. The alarm will dismiss after a few moments, then pop up again every 15 minutes. Play is not automatically interrupted, although a separate option does exist on the app to suspend and lock access to game software once the time limit has been reached for the remainder of the day.

9. Set eShop restrictions.These are a completely separate set of restrictions that govern how your child sees and uses the eShop on the Switch console. It’s actually not controlled by the Parental Controls app. Instead, you either supervise an existing Nintendo Account or set up a separate Child Account that’s linked to your Nintendo Account.

eShop restrictions let you dictate which games are displayed based on age ratings. Note that setting up a separate child account for someone under the age of 13 will require a charge of fifty cents, presumably to prove an adult is participating in the process since general account holders can’t be younger than 13.

Lifting Restrictions

You can fully lift restrictions set within the app. Go to the the Switch console home screen and select the Parental Controls icon at the top. Enter the PIN provided to you when you set up the app.

The PIN should be visible on the app under the Console Settings tab and in an email from Nintendo.

After lifting restrictions, you’ll need to reenter the PIN whenever the console is turned on or awoken from Sleep Mode.

Andrew Melcon is a freelance writer who specializes in covering games and gaming hardware. He's tackled everything from PC game controllers to Pokémon and PUBG and his work has appeared on sites including Tom's Guide, Tom's Hardware, Laptop Mag, and more.