06 January 2021

How to use parental controls on popular gaming devices

Parentalcontrolsandgaming-advice article_sml

With the introduction of new technologies, improved graphics and different ways we can connect (hello virtual reality), the gaming world is constantly evolving. And fast! While this creates new and exciting ways people can stay entertained, it also introduces new risks for young people who like to spend their time playing games online.

Not all games have safety settings, so when a child gets a new device, setting up parental controls is an important first step to help keep them safe. Check out our guide below for more information on how to set these up on popular devices.

What are parental controls? 

Most games consoles have parental controls that can help you manage what your child does online and when. For example, some have settings that let you switch off communication features to stop your child talking to someone they don’t know. Others let you set filters to stop your child from downloading games that might not be suitable for them.

How to set up parental controls on Microsoft Xbox

All Xbox consoles have a variety of features available for parents and carers to help keep their child safe. These can be set up either through the console or online with an Xbox Live account. Here are some of the settings we would recommend exploring.


Age restrictions – Set your child’s age to stop them downloading games that might not be suitable.

Timer – You can set a timer to manage how much time your child spends playing.  

Chat box – Switch off the chat function to stop your child from chatting with people they might not know.

Content filter – If switched on,

this will help stop your child seeing content they might find upsetting.

In- app purchases – Helps to stop your child from making in-app purchases.

To manage the parental controls on your child’s device we would recommend setting up a Family Group account so they can’t change them.


To set up parental controls on your child’s console

  1. Go to ‘Settings’ and select ‘Family’.
  2. Select your child’s profile.
  3. Under ‘Privacy and online settings’, select ‘Change settings’.
  4. Adjust the settings you would like to change and press ‘Save’.

To set them up on a web browser

  1. Sign into your Xbox Live
  2. Select ‘My Account’.
  3. Select ‘Security and Family Forums’.
  4. Select ‘Xbox 360 Online Safety’ and choose the account you’d like to change.
  5. Select ‘Blocked’ next to the areas you want to limit your child’s access to.

Check out Microsoft’s advice on Gaming that is safe for all for more information on the different settings available.

How to set up parental controls on a PlayStation device

To set up parental controls on a PlayStation console you need to set up your own PlayStation Network account and an account for your child. Once you’ve done this you’ll be able to access these features to help manage how your child spends time gaming:


Timer – Helps to manage how much time your child spends on the console.

Spending limits – Set a maximum spend limit to stop your child from downloading too many paid games or purchasing in-app rewards.

Audio and text chat – Switch these off to stop unwanted contact from people your child might not know.

Age restrictions – Set age ratings so your child can’t download certain games, films and TV shows.

 Web browser – Prevents your child from using the web browser or stops them from accessing certain sites.

PlayStation VR – Helps you manage whether they’re allowed to access this feature. Although, it’s worth noting this is switched off by default for under 12s.


Just like on Xbox, you can set them up on a web browser or console.


To set up parental controls on your child’s console

1) Go on your child’s console.
2) Go to ‘Settings’.
3) Select ‘Parental Controls’ and then ‘Family Management’.
4) Choose the account you’d like to set controls for.


To set them up on a web browser

1) Sign into your PlayStation account.
2) Select ‘Family Management’.
3) Choose the account you’d like to set controls for.

Check out How to set parental controls and spending limits on PlayStation®4 for more information on how to set them up.

How to set up parental controls on Nintendo devices

Nintendo also has parental controls available to help keep your child safe on the device. To access these settings, you will need to set up a four-digit pin and they include:


 Age rating limit –Stops your child downloading games that might not be suitable.

Web browser access - Limits access to web browser and news channel.

Communication features – Lets you manage which communication features your child can access or switch them off completely.

Manage shop – Lets you manage whether your child can download from the Wii Shop Chanel using Wii Points.


To adjust the parental control settings:

1) Go to ‘System Settings’ on the console.
2) Select the blue arrow.
3) Select ‘Parental Controls’ and select ‘Yes’.
4) Enter your four-digit pin.
5) Explore other settings.

Check out Nintendo’s guide on Parental Controls for more information.


Top tips

Parental controls are a very useful tool but it’s also important to work with your child so they understand other ways they can keep safe online.


1. Talk to them - Regularly check in with your child about the apps, sites and games they’re using.

2. Don’t feel pressured – Just because everyone is playing it, it doesn’t mean it is appropriate for your child.
3. Stay in the know - Be aware of the features that are available within games and apps. You can find advice on some of the more popular games and apps that kids use on our Net Aware reviews.
4. Let them know they can come to you - Make your child aware that they can always come to you if they are upset or if they have a question about something.
5. Talk to them about Childline - Ensure your child knows that they can always contact Childline if they need further support.


Regularly review parental control settings

Make sure to regularly review the parental controls on your child’s device and check for any new updates or settings that might help keep them safer. Remember to keep your child involved in this process and explain any changes to them.  

As your child gets older and becomes more confident and knowledgeable exploring the online world, you might also decide some of the controls are no longer working for your family.  

Explore more Net Aware advice

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