Gaming with guidance: How to set up parental controls on modern consoles, handhelds, and computers

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Wii U

Nintendo is well known for being a family-friendly company, and accordingly the parental controls options for their Wii U console are robust, varied, and very easy to enable. First off, while the Wii U has network functions like online multiplayer, chat, and an online store, these features are disabled for users under 12 (which is determined when a user account is first set up by inputting their age). In the instance of a user being too young to access network functions, parents may choose to consent to letting their child use these functions by accepting the consent agreement and paying a non-refundable $0.50 (this is to ensure that parents know that online functions have been enabled via an alert on their bank account statement).

If you opted in to network functionality and still wish to set up privacy and content settings for your child, you will need to create a PIN and secret answer for a security question that you will use to access these options. This is to prevent your child from changing it on their own. The PIN can be changed if it is forgotten as long as a valid email address is tied to the account.

In order to access these settings, simply go to the Wii U menu, and select Parental Controls. After inputting your PIN, you may make changes to permissions for the following content:

  • Restrict game access by rating
  • In-game chat
  • Wii-U chat
  • Miiverse (Nintendo’s console-based social media network)
  • Friends
  • Online store
  • Web browser use and settings
  • Data management (i.e. deletion or copying of data on the system, such as save game data and downloaded program data)
  • Non-gaming apps, like Netflix or YouTube

Nintendo 3DS

To enable parental controls on a 3DS system, being by pressing the HOME button, and tapping the System Settings button that pops up. From here, tap Parental Controls, and follow the on-screen steps. You will be asked to create a four-digit PIN, and input an email address. The email will be used as a contact in order to reset your PIN if it is forgotten. Once you’ve completed the set up, head back to the HOME menu, once again selecting Parental Controls. You are now able to change the parental control settings. (Note: these steps are consistent across all versions of the Nintendo 3DS hardware, including the 3DS, 3DS XL, 2DS, and the New 3DS).

On the 3DS, there are the follow options:

  • Restrict game access by rating
  • Friends
  • Miiverse (Nintendo’s console-based social media network)
  • Chat
  • e-Shop store
  • Apps
  • Web browser
  • Street Pass (a wi-fi based connectivity feature that allows systems to trade characters, called Miis, back and forth, even while the system is closed)
  • 3D image display

PlayStation Vita

In order to enable parental controls on a PlayStation Vita, a passcode must be set. This passcode will be entered whenever parental settings are changed. Be sure to make the passcode something you won’t forget, or to write it down some place safe, because if you forget the passcode the system must be restored to factory settings, meaning all data stored on the system  — including saved games and installed games/apps — will be deleted. To do this, simply navigate to the settings button on the Vita home screen, and tap the icon. A menu will come up, with Parental Controls as an option. Tap this, and create a passcode. Parental controls are now enabled.

What can be regulated via parental controls on a vita:

  • Games, apps, and downloaded content by rating level
  • Browser access
  • Sharing of location data

You are also able to change the passcode from this menu, but you must enter the current passcode in order to do so.


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