Silly Gamer, The App’s Not Just for Kids!
The Nintendo Switch Parental Controls App is an easy thing to ignore and simply dismiss. After all, what can parental controls possibly offer me, someone with no children using my Nintendo Switch? I completely understand that. I have no children at home. In fact, my daughter is grown and I’m now a grandfather. (Shit, he is old!!) Despite that, I have come to rely on the Parental Controls app for a couple of reasons.
It dawned on me that there may be a lot of Switch owners who, up until this point, may have dismissed the app just like I had. What I’ve discovered is that the app offers a couple of features that are helpful to just about every Switch gamer. Read on to find out if that includes you…
It’ll help form good gaming habits
One often overlooked benefit of using the app is simply tracking how much time you’re
wasting spending, playing your Switch. People who struggle with controlling the length of their gaming sessions can set self-imposed limits on what days and times their Switch will let them log on. Yes, yes, I know. We’re adults here. (Well, most of us.) “We have great self-control! I can put the controller any time I want.” Do you? Do you, really? “But I can easily bypass the Parental Controls, how about that?” It’s called building good habits and some of us (Myself included) have an issue where we can use some outlets/hobbies as a crutch and that can lead to unhealthy habits. Something as simple and benign as a Parental Controls App can be a big help for someone dealing with that issue. It may not be an essential feature for everyone, but it certainly can come in handy for a select few.
Actually accurate playtime tracking (and lots of it!)
The feature that I’ve found to be the most helpful is how the app continually (and with better precision than the Switch’s OS) tracks your playtime across individual games. The app tracks a surprising amount of info for being “just” a parental controls app.
The app keeps a daily log of every minute the Switch is powered on and gives you a daily total of time spent and shows you where that time was spent. Clicking on an individual day gives you a detailed breakdown. If you only spend 5 minutes playing a crap indie title, it’ll show up in the Daily list. If you lose 12 hours and 18 minutes because of “just one more run” in the newest roguelike, you’ll be able to check. (ahem… Hades. Buy and play Hades!) If you spend an hour sharing photos and browsing the eShop, it’ll show ap as “HOME, Menu, other”. The app shows the days total time at the top, with each game’s total time listed from most time spent to least, underneath. Keep in mind that the app shows the daily time for the previous month only. You’ll want to check it semi-regularly if you don’t want to miss anything.
The second thing the app does is give you a monthly summary of your playtime. Handily, you can view the info for each profile registered on your Switch. Alternatively, you can view the info across all profiles added together. The monthly view shows you how many days you played during the previous month. Unfortunately, it doesn’t show the current month’s info, but it does show whether you played more or fewer days than the previous month. Next to the total days, there’s a calendar view that highlights the individual days the Switch was used. (Clicking on the calendar brings up a list of your daily playtime for that month.) Beneath that, you’ll find a list of your most-played games for the month, showing how many days you played each game that month. Clicking the “Time” button will show you the average time played daily and a vague list of your most-played games for just for reference. Please be aware that the app stores your monthly summary for the previous year only.
A nice side-benefit of using the app is the fact that you get a much more accurate total of how much time you’ve spent playing any individual game. When you check your profile on your Switch console, you’ll only see a very vague estimate of how much time you’ve put into trying to finish the latest marathon JRPG. Something along the lines of “50 hours or more” is the best you’ll get. It’s slow to update and it’s never specific. The Parental Controls App shows you, down to the minute, exactly how much time you’ve spent in each game. That comes in very handy if you’re the type of gamer who likes to track things via services like HowLongToBeat and MGC.
I’m not trying to convince anyone that the Parental Controls App is a “must-have”. (Feel free to hate me in the comments if you feel this piece is stupid and unnecessary.) I just wanted to point out a couple of features and benefits some people may find useful. I’m sure most people without children haven’t given the app a second thought. Especially considering how useful the Switch Online App is. (That last part is sarcasm in case you’re wondering.)