4 Key Parental Control Options on Xbox and PlayStation 4

Talk to your kids about why you’re choosing certain settings
Shutterstock 774057412
Photo by icemanphotos/Shutterstock.com

Today’s gaming consoles are less like video game delivery systems and more like desktop computers. You can connect to players around the world, and even watch movies and listen to music on them.

Many parents ask us:

  • What apps and games can kids access on gaming consoles?
  • What content can kids be exposed to on web browsers?
  • What can kids purchase there?
  • How can I manage how long my child uses the console each day/week?

Let’s break down these parental control options on the two most popular gaming consoles: Xbox and PlayStation 4.

Xbox One

Start by creating an Xbox Live account through Microsoft online at account.microsoft.com. From there, go to account.microsoft.com/family/faq to create accounts for your kids, too. Then sign into the Xbox One to manage the settings for each account. (You could do all of this from the Xbox One but it’s easier to set up the accounts on a computer.)

Access – Sony provides preset limits, determined by age, that you can apply to your child’s account. But you’re not restricted by the actual age of your child; for example, you can choose the “Under 13” option even if your child is 15. The settings are broad, so Microsoft lets you give one-time or ongoing exceptions.

Web Content – Control what kinds of websites your child can access by selecting the child’s account and clicking on “Web filtering.” Add specific websites to an “Always allowed” list on the Microsoft family website at account.microsoft.com/account/account.

Purchases – Control what kinds of apps your child can download from the Microsoft Store by choosing “Blocked” (which means no purchases are allowed), “Free apps only” or “Free or paid apps.” Turn on “Ask a parent” to require your approval by clicking on Privacy and online safety > Xbox Live privacy > View details and customize > Buy and download.

Time – Set time limits on the Microsoft Family website via your parent user account. Choose a child’s account and click “Screen time” under your child’s name. Then, under the Xbox screen time option, change the “Set limits for when my child can use devices” and toggle to “On.” From there, you can set specific times of day and overall limits.

PlayStation 4

You’ll be prompted to join the PlayStation Plus community at playstation.com/en-us/explore/playstation-plus by setting up an account on the console itself. It will ask if you want to set up a Family Manager account. Choose “Set Up Now” and create the master passcode. Once you’ve added family members, customize the settings for each one.

Access – Set separate levels of access for DVDs/Blu-ray discs, virtual reality (if you have a virtual reality headset), the PlayStation4 browser (either on or off) and video games. The video games setting is tricky: If you don’t want your child to play a game rated T for Teen, for example, which correlates with the parental control number “4,” set your parental control level one number lower to “3.” By doing so, you’re preventing your child from playing games at any level higher than 3.

Web Content – Subscribe to Trend Micro Kids Safety, a web-filtering software made specifically for the PlayStation 4’s browser that is available in the PlayStation Store. Once you’ve done that, enable the Kids Safety software by opening the web browser on the PlayStation 4, clicking Options > Settings > Web Filter > Trend Micro for PlayStation 4 Settings. Enter the passcode and choose the filter you want to enable. 

Purchases – Your kids can use the credit card associated with the Family Manager account, and you can set their spending limits. Kids’ accounts are automatically given a spending limit of $0, so they can’t buy anything until you change the number to something between $10 and an unlimited amount. You’ll be notified of each purchase.

Time – Choose how long and when your child can be logged into the PlayStation 4 console each day. Customize each day of the week separately, if necessary. 

Take advantage of this opportunity to talk about why you’re choosing certain settings and when the settings may be loosened. Trust-building conversations are the biggest game-changer for empowering and equipping your child.

Laura Tierney, a digital native who got her first phone at age 13, is founder and president of The Social Institute, which offers students positive ways to handle one of the biggest drivers of their social development: social media. She also recently became a mom. Learn more at thesocialinstitute.com.


Categories: Kids + Media, Parenting, Solutions, Technology