It can be difficult to judge which games are appropriate for kids. You could do diligent research on the appropriateness of a game. But, your children could borrow a game of which you disapprove.
Fortunately, the new generation of game consoles can help you out. The Wii and Xbox 360 both include parental controls. So do Sony's handheld PSP (PlayStation Portable) and PlayStation 3. You can block games and movies you don't want your children viewing.
The PlayStations 3's restrictions are enforced by a four-digit password. The default password is 0000 (four zeros).
Select Settings>>Security Settings. You'll find options for both DVDs and Blu-ray movies. Options for games are listed under Parental Control. A number system indicates the level of restriction. The lower the number, the tighter the restrictions.
You'll need to experiment to find the right restriction level. Start at 1. Gradually increase the number if acceptable games or movies are blocked.
To set parental controls for the Web browser, select Internet Browser Start Control. Your options are limited to On or Off. Selecting On will block access to the browser.
The default password is well-known. If your kids don't know it, their friends do. So once you've set the restrictions, change it. In the Security Settings menu, select Change Password. Enter the default password. Select a new password.
The PSP's menu system is similar to the PlayStation 3's. Turn on the PSP and select Settings>>Security Settings. You'll see the options for games and UMD (Universal Media Disc) videos.
Select Internet Browser Start Control to change the Web browser settings. Select On to block access to the built-in Web browser.
Again, you'll want to change the password. Select Change Password. Enter the default password, 0000 (four zeros). Then set your own four-digit password.
You can set restrictions on games and online features on the Wii. Just click the Wii button at the bottom of the screen. Then select Wii Settings and select Parental Controls.
The Wii's Restrictions are based on ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) ratings. Select the highest rating with which you are comfortable. Full rating descriptions are available on the ESRB Web site.
When you connect the Wii to the Internet, you'll get additional options. The Wii features a Web browser and a basic e-mail service. You can disable the Web browser and put limits on e-mail. You may also want to set up a PIN for purchases from the Wii Shop.
After you make your changes, you're prompted to create a password. You also can specify a reminder question for your password.
To set parental controls in the Xbox 360, start the console without a disc. Then select System>>Family Settings>>Console Controls.
There are options for games, movies and Xbox Live. Base restrictions on ESRB game ratings and MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) movie ratings.
Once you set restrictions, create a pass code. The option is listed under Console Controls as Set Pass Code. The code can be any four key combinations on the controller.