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Microsoft helps parents just say no

Xbox 360 Family Timer will allow parents to control the amount of time children play

Microsoft has announced a new Xbox 360 feature that will help parents limit the amount of time their offspring spend playing the console.

Part of what appears a concerted effort in the US to position the Xbox 360 as a ‘family friendly' game console this holiday season, ‘Family Timer' will be available from Xbox Live (online) from next month - with the respective controls thereafter being found on the Xbox software's Family Settings screen.

This timer function will let parents limit the number of hours their kids can play the Xbox on a daily or weekly basis. A series of on-screen alerts will tell the child when the end of its playing time is drawing near, giving them time to save their game, then when this point is reached the console will simply shut off.

According to Microsoft's research, over 90% of parents place restrictions on their kids' gaming, with over half the parents it surveyed claiming that they would use such a timer if available.

A similar feature is already available with Windows Vista , and on Sony's PlayStation3 game console.

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