My kids LOVE to play Minecraft (bedrock edition) with their friends in remote/local co-op games and on cloud servers that can be set up quickly, but the permissions that you need to provide them via the parental privacy & online safety console on Xbox.com are not terribly granular. In order to allow a connection to a remote server (including a game hosted on a friend's tablet) you need to give permission to play on any public server.
Once those permission are provided, a whole slew of 'Featured Servers' pops up tempting the player with flashy colorful blocky graphics.
While use of these servers may or may not be appropriate depending on the age and maturity level of your child, the all or nothing approach of Microsoft's permissions are frustrating and prevents group play with friends when parents are not ready for their kids to have the option to play with strangers.
To take matters into my own hands, I decided that I would find the IP addresses or URLs of the featured servers and block them and see what happens.
|Server Name||Server URL||Regex Filter|
If you are using a DNS name-server that allows you to block URLs make rules for each of the servers using the value in the above 'Server URL' column. I have tested them with OpenDNS and verified that the servers become un-resolvable after about 3 minutes and a restart of the Minecraft client.
If you are using a pi-hole, you should click on 'Blacklist' on the sidebar and enter make rules for each of the servers using the 'Regex Filter' values. This also takes some time and a restart of the Minecraft client.
As the rules take effect you will notice that the 'sub-headings' of the servers disappear, the online player count stops showing up and the ping will never return from the black hole you sent it.
Because we have selectively blocked the feature servers, no other game play should be affected. Indeed I was able to test local co-op as well as a server hosted on an EC2 instance and was able to connect to join those games.
This is not an optimal solution for most people, but Microsoft has not come up with a way to provide better controls so I have to made do. And since I have not found a good solution to this problem elsewhere, I thought I would share my solution.
The Minecraft servers in your country may be different, or they may change. Figure out what they are where you live and block them.