Your children will undoubtedly enjoy their Christmas gifts of multi-faceted gaming consoles. They can play, connect to the internet to download games, surf the web, watch movies, well the possibilities are endless.
Gadgets that allows internet access puts many a parent on alert, but rest easy, every major gaming console comes with a built-in parental control setting. You just have to take a few minutes to look around and configure it.
Before your children start using the new Nintendo Wii U, you have the option to rate and restricting games, block conversations or communication and even stop video streaming by accessing the parental control settings at Settings > Parental Controls.
Xbox 360, allows you to restrict the games played and time spent on the web. You can even refuse friend requests, activate the family timer to set limits on the amount of time spent on the console either on a daily or weekly basis, and manage access to Microsoft's online service Xbox Live.
You can block movies by MPAA rating, TV shows by TV ratings, and hide restricted content for downloadable games. If the gaming console is shared, then set up individual Xbox Live accounts.
On Sony's Playstation 3, you can limit the type of games your children play and prevent the excessively violent ones. MPAA ratings will allow a check on the DVDs and Blu-ray HD movies but you will have to individually set up controls for internet browser and play station network. The settings are categorised according to age; lower the age, higher the restriction.
How Safe are the Parental Controls?
Older children can probably get around the parental controls on Nintendo Wii U, but it’s not super easy to do so. To setup the controls, you are required to create a 4 digit PIN, after which select a secret question. This is necessary to retrieve your PIN in case you forget it. The second option is registering your e-mail address for PIN retrieval.
Sony's parental controls too are relatively secure, you are required to always enter the 4 digit password and never leave it on the default mode of 0000 (four zeroes.) However, you may be confused by Sony’s ratings which are from 1-11; different from the ones you are normally accustomed to, says Julian Gavaghan in this article for Yahoo News.
The bottom line is that, it takes some effort to keep your children safe on any of these gaming consoles. Parental control settings cannot function as a standalone technique. As Suren Ramasubbu, co-founder, CEO of Mobicip, rightly says, “In addition, parents should also take time to have a dialogue with their kids about internet safety and sharing personal information since kids as young as 4-7 years old have started using these gaming devices.”