Microsoft today officially announced the long-rumored parental timer for the Xbox 360, which will let parents restrict their children’s time playing games or watching movies on the console on a per-day or per-week basis. When a child nears the maximum playtime, a notice will appear to warn the player to save the game and once the clock hits zero, the console will turn off automatically.

The feature is part of a joint effort between Microsoft and the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) to encourage a healthy balance between work and fun, as Microsoft attempts to portray the Xbox 360 as a family friendly console. The Family Timer feature will be available for download via Xbox LIVE in early December. More details on xbox.com.