Our weekly take on children and gaming is here with The Children’s Corner this week where we will be discussing parental controls and whether or not you should consider them.
Y’know, it’s odd to think about how to protect children online, especially when you don’t have any of your own. As an uncle, my nephews are always in and out, they play games day in and out if given the chance, which brings to concerns for their safety whether it’s through online interactions or the games that they will play.
Growing up, that wasn’t an issue. My parents knew what my brothers and I played, they knew what games we’d get our hands on, and they knew what to expect from the games that were out at the time. Unlike now, our games weren’t near as realistic, online interactions were almost non-existent due to the era we were in, and those that were online were far and few between.
The most violent games we got to see were from id Software, Midway Games (now Netherrealm), Monolith, and a select few other studios. Our parental controls were simple: If the parents didn’t like it, we didn’t play it, and that was the end of the story. They weren’t faced with the real-world problems we face these days with concerns for “Video Game Addiction”, online predators, and various issues that we as a society face as far as safety goes.
So the question comes into play: Should you use parental controls for the safety of those young ones that decide to game? Let’s talk about parental controls and what they are to get things started.
What are parental controls? They’re everywhere, but what do they do exactly?
As you may already know, since the mid-90s and even earlier, parental controls are there to help parents regulate the use of certain devices, restricting what users can use without a code or permissions from someone allowed to use the programming that someone wishes to access. For some, this includes the access to television channels, what apps a person can and can’t use on a mobile device, or on consoles, what kind of features they have access to.
Essentially, these are content filters, which allow you to restrict what type of access a user can have on the device put before them. For example, you can restrict how long a user can play, what kind of functions they have such as party chats, messaging, and even restricting access to digital storefronts such as the PlayStation Store. You can even restrict how violent their games are and what kind of movies, Blu-ray films, etc, that they can watch or play.
Let alone can you restrict their access to select features, you can even put a Play Time Setting on the child account, making it so they can only play so many hours at a time a day. The Xbox One and Nintendo Switch also feature similar protections and restrictions that can be put in place if you wish to take advantage of them. These restrictions don’t just protect a child, they ensure their safety, and allows them to have an incentive to work their way up to brand new features if that room for growth is there.
But there are drawbacks to these parental controls.
The disadvantage of parental controls is real and it can show a lack of trust in the person they are for
One of the downsides to parental controls is the fact they show a lack of trust versus the concerns of safety for the one they have been implemented for. While the safety concerns are the best thing about their implementation, it’s hard to let the person they are for understanding and to get them to see where your concerns are in the mindset of trying to protect them.
Also, there’s the issue that some games, which are actually family friendly, and are often mislabeled by the ESRB. This means that your restrictions could also cause an inability for the child or teenager to play the game they might have been gifted or they have purchased themselves. If that’s the case, it’s worth noting that the Parental Controls aren’t an end-all-be-all solution for protecting your children.
The best advice here? Talk to the children about online safety, what to look for, how to avoid it, and what they should do if the worst-case solution actually happens. The reason why is quite clear and most companies don’t take predatory practices lightly. The best thing you can do is think smart, be smart, and teach the kids how to be even smarter when it comes to online play.
Just remember, without proper reasoning, trust issues might arise from the implementation of the Parental Controls, but if it comes to safety it is worth considering these options to protect them what dangers you might affect them as they game.
As we come to a close, parental controls are an amazing countermeasure for children as they come into gaming. Because of this, you need to consider all the options on the table, what restrictions to put in place, what is and isn’t best for them, and go from there. If that’s in your books, it is worth giving a chance and discussing their options with them moving forward.
Just remember, their safety should always come first, and some of that safety comes with good online parenting and child-safety based practices in order to ensure their security. Ultimately, it’s not for me to tell you what to do and what not to do. In our house, I have the consoles locked down lightly for the thirteen-year-old nephew. He gets a chance to play games ranging from Minecraft all the way up to titles such as Battlefield V.
On the other hand, the five-year-old is locked down to much younger games, namely titles such as LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, . They’re great options and he absolutely loves those games. It’s ultimately up to us as adults to protect children like them from the content they may night be ready for. Granted, they might see worse on TV, but we can still have some control over what may negatively impacting them during their youth.
You may also like the following The Children Corner volumes:
- The Children’s Corner: How Nintendo 3DS and the Switch might be best for the kids
- The Children’s Corner: There are some great benefits to your kids and gaming
- The Children’s Corner: Should you listen to the ESRB labels placed on games?
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.