The family that plays together stays together, but as every parent knows, you can’t always be around when the kids want to enjoy a quick game of Madden or Super Smash Bros. In addition, there are also games (*cough* Gears of War 2 *cough*) that you might not want your tots to play alone, if at all. Luckily, the manufacturers of popular consoles such as the PlayStation 3, Wii and Xbox 360 have created built-in parental controls that can help keep sprouts safe from inappropriate content. Here’s how to make sure junior doesn’t get an eyeful.
Sony Playstation 3
Power on the system and you’ll see the dashboard. Press the joypad to the right until you reach the Settings column. Scroll down until you reach “Security Settings.”
There are plenty of options to choose here:
- Change Password
- BD Parental Control
- BD/DVD Parental Control Regional Code
- DVD Parental Control
- Parental Control Level
- Internet Browser Start Control
Start with Change Password. The default is 0000 (four zeroes), and you’ll want to change it to avoid your kid from just pressing the X button four times to access naughty goods.
BD stands for Blu-Ray, or high-definition, discs. DVD, of course, stands for the world’s current most popular video and data storage format.
BD Parental Control
On the PlayStation 3, restrictions can be set separately. First, however, parental controls must be turned on. To turn on the BD Parental Control or the DVD Parental Control, click on the respective link. You’ll then be asked for your four-digit password. Finally, choose either “Restrict (On)” or “Do Not Restrict (Off)”.
Too tired to go through the menus? The BD/DVD Parental Control Regional Code lets you pick a default parental control level based on your country. Several dozen are represented.
The Parental Control Level represents the degree of content you want your child to see – Level 1 is tame, while Level 11, the highest level, provides almost unrestricted to content of all sorts. Choose a parental control level and the PS3 will confirm the choice before you exit.
Finally, the Internet Browser Start Control is just that – turn it on and kids will need to know the password to use the Web.
Parental Control Level
Power on the system and, on the dashboard, aim and click your remote on the Wii icon in the lower left-hand corner. Select “Data Management,” the icon on the right in the following screen.
Wii Parental Controls
There will be a list of different Wii System Settings. Click the arrow on the far right once to go to the next page. It should read Wii System Settings 2 on the top. Select the first option, “Parental Controls.”
The Wii will ask you to create a 4-digit pin followed by a secret question and answer (for additional security). Once those are set, the Wii will ask you if you’re all done or need to modify other settings. Select “Other Settings.”
From here you simply say “Yes” or “No” to toggle restrictions on Wii Points spending, online communication with other players, and Internet and News Channel use. Click on the “Settings Compete” icon to go back to the “Wii System Settings 2” page. You may now select the individual sections and modify the restrictions to your liking.
Microsoft Xbox 360
Power on the system and you’ll see the dashboard. Make sure you are on the row called “My Xbox.” Press the joypad to the right and flip through the tabs until you reach the System page. The second option is “Family Settings.”
There are two levels of control here: Console Control and Xbox LIVE Control.
The longest list, Console Control, has many options:
- Game Ratings
- Video Ratings
- XBox LIVE Access
- XBox LIVE Membership Creation
- Restricted Content
- Family Timer
Under Game Ratings, you can choose what type of games are playable based upon the ESRB (Electronic Software Ratings Board) ratings system. Categories include Early Childhood, Everyone, Everyone 10+, Teen and Mature.
Video Ratings breaks down into Movie Ratings, TV Ratings, Explicit Video and Unrated Video. As with the Game Ratings menu, you can set access based on each category’s respective rating system.
Xbox LIVE Access and Xbox LIVE Membership Creation let you toggle access to broadband connectivity and multiplayer service Xbox Live. Restricted Content also lets you clamp down on inappropriate content, while the Family Timer lets you set time limits for play, on either a daily or weekly basis.
Finally, the Set Pass Code option is used to create a password that can bar access to the device – highly recommended if you are going to use the Parental Controls at all.
If you go back to the top menu, under Xbox LIVE Control, you can also restrict your child’s specific profile. This will enable you to restrict your kid’s exposure when he or she logs in and still have full control over the system when you login yourself.