Parental controls for games consoles

03 February 2020

A large and increasing proportion of children are now online for a range of activities. There are great benefits to being online, including allowing millions of users to communicate to one another, search and browse, support them at school and providing entertainment. Online gaming in particular is popular among children, though there are also potential harms to it.

This guide will show you how to find information to help keep children safe online, including on games consoles, tablets and other smart devices.

Children use a range of devices to go online, though different devices have different parental controls.

Here are the options offered by some of the most popular devices:

  • The Sony PSP, PS3, PS4 and PS Vita have parental control settings that restrict the types of games that can be played and downloaded, as well as video content that can be viewed. Parental controls are usually found either on the home screen, or in the security settings.
  • Nintendo Wii U has parental controls that can be set up to limit access to certain features which may not be suitable for the age of the child using the console. Parental controls can be found on the Wii U Menu.
  • Nintendo 3DS allows you to limit access to certain features which may not be suitable for the age of the child using the console. Parental controls can be found in the Systems settings.
  • Nintendo Switch has various parental control options so that parents can restrict or monitor their children’s activities. The free Nintendo Switch Parental Controls app makes it easier to do so, even when you’re not at home.
  • The Xbox 360 console lets you customise and manage access to games, films and television content. Parental controls allow you to restrict content such as games, films and TV shows, access to Xbox Live and how long a user can use the console on a daily or weekly basis. Parental controls can usually be found either on the home screen, or in the system or security settings.
  • The Xbox One consoles require users to be signed in with an account. Consoles apply a range of default settings based on the details of the account holder. For example, for users aged 17 and younger, purchases are blocked. There are two methods of setting up parental controls on your Xbox One: either through the ‘Family’ feature, which allows users to group user accounts together on a console; or by signing in individually to the account that you may want to restrict.
  • Google Play devices have parental controls to restrict the content you can download or purchase from Google Play on your device. By default, parental controls are turned off. To switch them on, open the Play Store app on your Android device, scroll down to the Parental Controls option, and access the settings option.

Taking measures to stay safe online

It is important to have regular conversations with children about staying safe online. Parents and carers should encourage their children to tell them about anything they have seen or heard that has made them feel uncomfortable or scared. Parents and carers should report incidents to their internet service provider and in instances of sexual contact to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) using their report abuse button.

It is also important to ensure that the games that children are playing are age appropriate. Age ratings help indicate whether a game is suitable for children. It is good practice to check out the game and its rating before allowing your child to play.

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