The PlayStation 4 just released a firmware update (5.50) that brought a ton of great features, such as comprehensive parental controls. Here's how you can set age restrictions for certain types of games and movies, set spending limits in the PlayStation Store, and regulate game time each day using the new Family Management feature.
Photo: Farley Santos
You'll need to have your own PlayStation user ID so you can be the "Family Manager" or admin of the system. You can learn how to do that here if you don't already have one. Then, you'll turn on the PS4 and head to:
- Settings > Parental Controls/Family Management > Family Management.
- You'll be asked to enter a passcode (it's "0000" if you haven't changed it before).
- Then you'll need to sign into your PSN account if your PlayStation user ID is attached to one.
- After that, select "Set Up Now", verify your PSN email (if you have a PSN account), then select a user you'd like to add to your family. For example, if your kid's username is "SuperBrent", you'd select that one. Or, if they don't have a user ID yet, you can create one here.
- Enter their name and birthdate, then select confirm.
Once you've done that, you can:
- Set the age level for games: Choose from level one (up to age three) to level 11 (age 17 or older). Level 10 and up can play all ESRB rated games, including Mature and Adults Only titles. Level nine can only play up to Mature rated games, level eight can only play up to Teen rated games, and so on. You can also choose "Allowed", which makes all game types playable.
- Set the age level for Blu-rays and DVDs: For Blu-rays, the lower you set the age, the tighter the control and more restrictions. For DVDs, the lower the level, the tighter control and more restrictions. You might have to play around with these to figure out the right age and level for your children.
- Decide whether they can use PlayStation VR or not: Choose between "Allowed" or "Not Allowed".
- Decide if they can use the internet browser: Choose between "Allowed" or "Not Allowed".
After that, you'll be asked if the user can join the PlayStation Network and play games online (you'll be offered more control options if you allow this). Have a discussion with your child about the games they play. Some games require access to the PlayStation Network to make all features available.
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If you do allow your child's user ID to access the PlayStation Network, you need to decide if they can:
- Communicate with other players: This includes voice chatting and text messaging with other players and friends on PlayStation Network. Choose between "Allowed" or "Not Allowed".
- View content created by other players: This includes videos, images and text created and shared by other players on PlayStation Network. Usually, it consists of video streams, game clips, screenshots and other gameplay-focused sharing. Choose between "Allowed" or "Not Allowed".
And then set limits for content and spending, such as:
- Age filtering for online content: Make it so users can't access online game features that feature content outside of your set age level (this is on by default). Also changes what they can see in the PlayStation Store.
- Monthly spending limit: Set a spending cap for the user in the PlayStation Store. This includes buying games, game add-ons or DLC, and loot boxes.
Screenshot: PlayStation Blog
You'll then be asked to set a time zone for your family. Select the best option for your family, leave "Adjust Daylight Saving Automatically" checked if appropriate, then select "Confirm". Once that's set, you can create play time restrictions for your family member. Here's how:
- Decide if you want to restrict time or not: Choose "Do Not Restrict" or "Restrict".
- Choose what happens when time runs out: You can either have the PS4 notify the user that their play time has run out (sends them an on-screen message every five minutes), or have the PS4 log them out of the system when time is up (they will be warned so they can save their games or say their goodbyes to friends).
- With that, you need to decide how much time they can play. With these settings you can create whatever play schedule you like. For example, you can set it so they get one hour of game time every day, up until 9:00PM. Or you can set different rules for different days of the week. You could have weekdays set for one hour of playtime a day, then grant them two or three hours on weekends. Find a playtime schedule that works for you and your child.
You'll then be asked to agree to a few more things (ToS and whatnot), have to sign into PlayStation Network one more time (if you have a PSN account), and that's it! You'll see a Family Management dashboard screen with your PSN ID at the top, listed as the "Family Manager". Below that, you'll see your newly added family member, along with how much time they have played today (something you can check up on later if you're worried they're going over agreed upon limits).
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If you want to make changes to your family members, simply select their profile from this screen and adjust whatever you like. If you want to add another family member and repeat the process, just choose "Add Family Member" at the bottom of the list and start the process all over again. Now you can rest easy knowing your child isn't playing what they shouldn't when they shouldn't.