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Major Nelson Clarifies Youth Restrictions In Xbox Live Update

by Meagan Marie on Nov 09, 2009 at 04:02 AM

For those of you who participated in the public preview of the upcoming XBL update, which introduces Facebook, Last.fm and Twitter to the dashboard, you are probably aware that those younger than 18 have been denied access to the social media outlets. Many wondered why, and if the decision was simply part of the preview or a more permanent setting. Major Nelson addressed the issue via his blog, confirming that this will stay the case until Microsoft is able to provide parents with a method to opt out of the tools for their children.

 “As some of you might be aware, those under the age of 18 are not able to access Twitter, Facebook and Last.fm in our public preview,” confirmed Nelson. “I want to you let you know that this will remain the case when it launches to the world soon. We made this decision because as it stands now, parents aren’t able to use Family Settings to customize which of these applications their children can access.

“In order to offer an age-appropriate environment for everyone, we decided to turn off these applications for those Gold members under the age of 18. As expected, this has been a hot topic with the preview users. We want to make sure everyone was aware, however, that the development team is working on an update that gives parents the choice of which social applications their children can access. This means that Xbox Live members between the ages of 13 and 17 will be able to use Facebook, Twitter and Last.fm as long as their parents approve. The team hopes to roll this out several weeks after launch and I will update you on the exact date as it gets closer.”

The whole scenario seems a bit odd, as according to the official Xbox Live terms of use, those who use Xbox Live must be 18 anyway. Obviously, the issue isn’t enforced too hard by Microsoft. Gold members who pay with credit cards must be 18 or have been given access to a credit card by a guardian, so that method seems relatively foolproof. However, subscription cards are routinely given away with retail purchases  and can be bought with cash at specialty shops, so loopholes are abundant.

Do you think Microsoft made the responsible decision in limiting access to these social networking tools? Or do you think they are overreacting in a effort to cover their bases? Sound off below.

Click here to read our hands-on impressions of the update.