Jan 06, 2018

Dad and young son sitting on couch holding controllers and playing a video game

Parental controls for the Nintendo Switch work a little differently than on other consoles. You can set up basic content restrictions on the console in minutes, or establish more fine-grained monitoring and control via the Nintendo Parental Control App.

Setting Up Parental Controls on the Nintendo Switch

There are two main methods for setting up Nintendo Switch parental controls: through the Home menu of the console, or via the Parental Controls App.

While the App offers more fine-tuned control and monitoring options, restrictions set by either method apply to all users of the associated console. Per-user content and usage restrictions aren’t supported at this time.

(Restrictions on purchases in the Nintendo eShop are controlled through Nintendo Accounts, not console-specific parental controls. See this Support article for more information.)

Method 1: Using the Switch Console

The fastest method to set up parental controls on the Switch is through the Home menu. This allows you to screen software by age, limit third-party communications, or restrict in-game access to social media.

  1. From the Home Menu, select “System Settings”.
  2. Highlight “Parental Controls”, then select “Parental Controls Settings”.
  3. Select “Use This Console” to set local controls.
  4. Under “Restriction Level”, you can either choose a age-related preset (see “Preset Parental Control Restrictions”, below) or set custom content and communications permissions. There are three main choices here:
    a. What age range of material is appropriate for your child.
    b. Whether or not images and updates from the Switch can be shared to social media.
    c. If your child should be able to communicate with other users through message or chat features.
         i. This can be set either globally, or by application.
  5. Hit “Save”, then “OK” to confirm your selections.
  6. Set an access PIN number and re-enter it to activate Parental Controls.

To change your parental control settings later, use your access PIN in the “Parental Controls Settings” menu.

Method 2: Using the Parental Control App

Setting up the Nintendo Switch Parental Control App is more involved, but offers more control and monitoring options. With the app, you’re able to limit daily use, schedule “lights out”, and monitor which games are used on the console. (You can also decide whether to pop up a warning or suspend the console when these limits are exceeded.)

  1. First, download the Nintendo Switch Parental Controls App (iTunes, Google Play) and install it onto your smartphone or tablet.
  2. Launch the app and tap “Sign In / Create Account”. The app will open your web browser so you can sign in or create a Nintendo account.
  3. After signing in, select “Use this Account"; to return to the Parental Controls App.
  4. Hit “Next”, then write down the six-digit registration code that appears on your device.
  5. On your Switch, select “System Settings"; from the Home Menu.
  6. Highlight “Parental Controls”, then select “Parental Controls Settings”.
  7. Select “Use Your Smart Device"; to configure parental controls via the app.
  8. Verify that you’ve installed the app, then input your registration code when prompted.
  9. Once registered, you can use the App to continue setting up parental controls.

Parental control setup is similar to using the console method, though you have some additional options:

  • Daily Screen Time Limits: Set a total amount of daily play time for each individual console you’ve connected to the app, from no limit to six hours.
  • Bedtime Alarm: Choose when to stop gameplay for bed each day, from 6:00pm to 11:45pm.
  • Suspend Software: Decide if you’d like the Switch to shut down any active games when these limits are reached, or display a notification without interrupting play.

Preset Parental Control Settings

Both the Nintendo Switch console and the Parental Control App offer three preset, age-appropriate content control profiles: Teen, Pre-Teen, and Child. For the most part, these content restrictions are linked to ESRB ratings.
Here’s what you can expect from each profile:

Games for teens may contain suggestive themes, crude humor, violence, and minimal blood.

  • Blocked applications: 
      Games rated for ages 17+ by Nintendo
      Games rated Mature by the ESRB
  • In-game communication and social media posting are unrestricted

May contain cartoonish or mild violence, minimally suggestive themes, and occasional, mild language.

  • Blocked applications:
      Games rated for ages 13+ by Nintendo
      Games rated Teen or Mature by the ESRB

  • In-game communication and social media posting are blocked

These games are intended for very young children and are generally free of any challenging or inappropriate content.

  • Blocked applications:
      Games rated for ages 8+ by Nintendo
      Games rated Everyone, 10+, Teen, or Mature by the ESRB

  • In-game communication and social media posting are blocked

For greater safety, consider using parental control software for all your family’s digital needs including Windows, Macintosh, iOS and Android devices.

Check out our other parental control guides for How to Set Parental Controls for Kindle, Apple Parental Controls and How to Set Parental Controls for Windows 10.

Madison Nowers

Madison Nowers is content marketing manager, writer, and mother of three precocious digital natives. She hasn't had a full night's sleep since the late twentieth century.