Parental controls for gaming

There are many video games available on every console which are specifically aimed at children and can be enjoyed by the whole family. However, many video games are aimed at a more mature audience and can be violent, or have other mature themes. Age ratings given to games enable parents to make informed choices about what sort of games they allow their children to play.

Gaming consoles

Gaming consoles have evolved from their humble beginnings to become highly sophisticated devices capable of far more than simply playing video games – most consoles can be used for accessing the web, playing movies and streaming video, listening to music and communicating with people around the world.

raising logo and URL

With an increase in possibilities comes an increase in the risks of content being accessed which may not be appropriate for children. Every major gaming console provides parental control measures to help ensure the whole family can safely enjoy all the positive aspects on offer in the gaming world.

Select a console


xbox unit

Sony PS



WiiU unit and handset

PC Gaming

samsung laptop


Xbox One

XboxThe latest game console developed by Microsoft, the Xbox One, allows users to customise a robust set of protocols to ensure safe use of the console in the family home.


Xbox 360

Although this console is not the latest Xbox technology, the parental controls on the Xbox 360 remain as rigorous as necessary to keep kids safe while gaming.

The Xbox 360 parental controls allow the user to set a four-button access code which will then be required to access content above the threshold level the user sets. There is also a Family Timer function available which allows the user to control the amount of time the console can be used in any given day or week.


Xbox Live

Xbox Live is the online multiplayer gaming service for Xbox, allowing gamers to meet up and play with or against each other across a broad range of game.

Xbox Live also serves as a marketplace for users to purchase games and other media. You can control your children’s access to the Xbox Live environment by setting a passcode, and by customising the safety and privacy settings within your child’s Xbox Live account.

Visit IGEA on YouTube for more video guides to help set up parental controls.

Sony PlayStation

PlayStation 4 (PS4)

PlayStationThe PS4 is the latest console from Sony and offers an exciting range of gaming and entertainment experiences. Users can ensure their younger family members are protected from exposure to inappropriate content by setting up the simple but effective parental controls available.

Effective use of the PS4’s parental controls will involve setting a passcode and then creating a separate sub account for any children who will be using the console. PS4 features available to the sub account user can then be customised, including access to gaming and video content of a particular classification.


PlayStation 3 (PS3)

PlayStation PS3Sony’s previous console, the PS3, has similar parental control functionality to the PS4 and is based on the user setting a passcode which is used to restrict access to certain content. The preferred level of this restriction can be customised by the user.


PlayStation Vita

PlayStation vitaSony’s handheld gaming device, the PS Vita can play games from PS Vita game cartridges, or downloaded directly onto the device. The PS Vita can also be used for playing music, browsing the web, social media and other apps.

The steps involved in setting up parental controls on the PS Vita are very similar to other PlayStation consoles, involving a passcode and preselecting the level of classification you consider appropriate for content accessed on the device. Detailed instructions can be accessed here and here.




WiiU unit

WiiU and Wii

Although Nintendo’s Wii consoles have less multimedia functionality than some others, in addition to being able to play games, users can also access online video services and browse the web.

The parental controls available for the WiiU, and its predecessor the Wii, include the ability to restrict the types of games that can be played, disable the browser and restrict purchases.



Nintendo 3DSIn addition to gaming, Nintendo’s handheld game console allows users to browse the web and access Nintendo’s own social network, ‘Miiverse’.

The 3DS’s parental controls allow you to restrict the types of games that can be played and downloaded, limit the ability to browse and interact online, and control what sort of content can be shared and what can be accessed on the Miiverse.

Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Switch asset with logoThis gaming console provides multiple modes of use at home (TV, handheld and tabletop mode), as well as on-the-go for handheld play. Online multiplayer functionality can be accessed through an online subscription service, which enables players to meet-up in online lobbies and voice chat while playing. Unlike the WiiU, Wii and 3DS, it does not include a web browser.

The Parental Controls for this console allow parents to connect with Switch through a smart device app so they can monitor play, set time limits and restrict certain games and online features, including voice chat. Some restrictions can be set directly on the console.


Nintendo Switch parental controls

PC gaming



Steam is an online digital platform offering customers games to purchase and download, as well as supporting multiplayer and social networking functions.

Built into the Steam software is a content restriction setting called ‘Family View’, which will require any user to enter a PIN prior to purchasing games. Steam also allows you to customise your privacy level to ‘Private’ or ‘Only Friends’.

EA GamesEA Origin

Similar to Steam, EA Origin is an online digital platform developed by gaming company Electronic Arts to provide a marketplace specific to their games.

Origin’s parental control options allow you to create an account for your child, and subsequently implement age restrictions on games that can be accessed, as well as limiting access to the online store.

Sign up for eSafety News

Stay up to date with online
issues, new resources, and the latest research.