Setting Parental Controls on Video Game Systems

Angela Skinner Mullen

Did Santa bring your kids a new Wii or Xbox 360 this holiday season? If so, I’m sure the first thing you thought of – being a mom – is protecting your child from both language and images you don’t want them to hear or see. A valid concern, because games these days are marketed to both kids and adults. Familiarizing yourself with the game ratings system and setting basic parental controls can do wonders in limiting the content your child can run into.

Start by learning about the established rating system. The ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) reviews each game that comes out for all gaming systems and rates them for both age and content appropriateness. The breakdown is as follows:

EC Early Childhood
E Everyone 6 and older
E10+ Everyone 10 and older
Teen Everyone 13 and older
M Mature – 17+
AO Adults Only

Setting Parental Controls on the Nintendo Wii. Look for the wrench icon and go to the “Wii Settings” menu and select “Parent Controls”. Create a four-digit PIN which will lock out the Settings menu to anyone but you. You can also create a question/answer in case you ever forget your PIN. Go to ”Game Settings” and decide what game rating level your kids can access. You also have the option of disabling the web browser, News Channel, Wii Points, and message boards.

Setting Parent Controls on the Xbox 360. Set a password when you first activate the Parental Control settings. Next select “Settings” from the menu, go to the “System” menu, scroll to the “System” tab, then “Family Settings”. Next select “Console Controls”. Under “Console Controls” select “Game Ratings”. Decide what level of game your child can access, and whether or not you want to set a lock on the types of videos shown on the console. Xbox Live (Microsoft’s online gaming community) settings can also be decided, so you can control how much your kids can interact. There’s even a timer so after a certain amount of playtime, the console will power down.

Do you monitor the games your kids play?

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