Do This Before You Give Your Child a Console
Author: Andy Robertson
Unpack the box completely and plug the console into the television. If it’s portable plug the device in to top up its charge level. If it’s new it will take you through a set-up process that will require an internet connection and an email address. If it’s second-hand reset factory settings that will start this process for you. Make sure you put in an email address you regularly check as this will be used for purchase receipts.
The first time you connect the console or put in a new game, it is likely to need to download updates or install files to the system. This is to ensure you are on the latest version of the operating system, with all the best protection and controls. The download can take a number of hours to complete – and on Christmas Day, when everyone is doing it, it can take a lot longer.
The controllers that come with the system will need to be synced so they can communicate with the console. This is usually achieved by temporarily plugging them into the console with the cable provided and pressing a button as instructed. The same cable is also used to charge the controller, so this is a chance to ensure that the controllers are fully charged.
Once you have the basics set up, it’s important to configure accounts for the different family members. Creating specific child accounts not only lets you apply different limits and controls, but provides information on what games they have been playing. Set up the appropriate ratings, online interactions and passwords for purchases on each account. Finally, set a password for the main account so your children can’t adjust these settings without asking you.
You can set up your console, gaming computer, tablet or smartphone to limit access to games of a certain PEGI or ESRB content rating. Once you have selected the appropriate PEGI or ESRB rating in the device’s settings, you can apply a password. This means your child will need to consult you about any older-rated games before they can play them. In this way the age ratings become not only a way to limit access but also provides another opportunity to have a conversation about their gaming and gain an understanding of it.
It’s worth applying a little extra caution on smartphones and tablets, and with console games that don’t have a physical, boxed version. These PEGI or ESRB ratings of online-only games are often applied via the IARC (International Age Rating Coalition) self-certified questionnaire by the developer rather than an expert examiner.
Along with the peace of mind that comes with automatically restricting access to older-rated games, the broader information available on the ratings providers’ websites enable you to have a conversation with your child before they play a particular game. This is more important where free games can be downloaded without a financial transaction that might otherwise trigger such a discussion.
This all sounds more complicated than it is. Most consoles, tablets and smartphones are designed to lead you through this process with a series of simple questions. The PEGI app, ESRB app and AskAboutgames.com website also provide easy access to further family settings guidance. Along with the advice here, this should enable you to get everything working how you want it. All that remains is to pack it all away and wrap it up ready to gift.
This article was first published in the Taming Gaming book.
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