Any app or games should have safety guidelines to help protect your child.
Before purchasing a game or downloading an app, we recommend doing some research and reading the full guidance.
Here is some of our advice for the more popular consoles, devices and games.
Parental controls are available on most online game consoles and devices. We recommend setting these controls to what is suitable for your child before giving them a new console, game or application.
Here is a guide of how to access parental controls for some of the more popular gaming consoles and devices.
To set parental controls, you need your own account for the PlayStation Network and an account for your child. If you set up the child accounts, you automatically become the family manager. If someone else sets up the child accounts, they can appoint you as a ‘guardian’ to allow you to set parental controls and spending limits.
When setting parental controls, remember to adjust the system settings to prevent children from changing parental controls.
PlayStation allows you to restrict access based on a user’s account.
To do this:
Sign into account manager and select ‘family management’.
Select your child’s account and choose ‘edit’.
Here you can manage several functions, including who can manage the controls, privacy settings, monthly spending limits, play time restrictions and more.
For more information on how to ensure your child’s Playstation account settings are secure, visit the PlayStation website.
Xbox have a family settings app which allows you to control your child’s account, in real time, from your smart phone.
This includes setting screen time, managing in-game spending and approval of friend requests.
You can download from your mobile phone app store. Search ‘Xbox family settings’.
You can find out more about the Xbox family setting app on the Xbox website.
Family settings can also be accessed and changed on the console by pressing the Xbox button on the controller. Next select ‘profile and systems’, ‘settings’, ‘account’ and then ‘family settings’.
You can find more information and help about console settings and choosing the appropriate ones for your child on the Xbox website.
Parental controls can be set on the Nintendo Switch console or through the Nintendo Switch Parental Controls application for smart devices.
Parental controls are set for the console - not each individual user. The same restrictions will apply to everyone who uses the console, so they should be set with the youngest player in mind.
To access parental controls on the console:
On the home screen click ‘system settings’
Choose ‘parental controls’
To access parental patrols on your smart device (mobile phone or tablet) search ‘Nintendo Switch Parental Controls’ on the app store, and download.
Once you have set a Parental Controls PIN through the console or the app, you can enter the PIN in the future to temporarily lift Parental Controls restrictions.
The restrictions will be lifted until the next time the console enters sleep mode.
Play time limits can be set through the Nintendo Switch Parental Controls application only.
Nintendo eShop restrictions can only be set through the parent or guardian’s Nintendo Account profile settings on a PC or smart device.
For more information on how to ensure your child’s Nintendo Switch settings are secure, visit the Nintendo website.
Restrict access to shopping, downloading content, and settings on your child’s Amazon Fire device
Your parental controls password is different from your lock screen password.
Swipe down twice from the top of the screen to show Quick Settings.
Tap the Settings icon.
Tap Parental Controls.
Toggle the switch to On.
Enter and confirm your password. Make sure that you record your password.
A lock icon appears at the top of the screen when parental controls are enabled.
Enabling Parental Controls does not remove Mature or Adult-rated content from the device. You may encounter such content in apps and games, music, and books, or in Amazon store search results.
To restrict the content available on the device, you can:
Create an Amazon Kids child profile and select which apps and content are available to that profile.
Block access to content on the device (for example, apps and games, books and music) by going to 'Amazon content and apps' menu under parental controls and selecting the button next to each category to say blocked.
For more information on how to ensure your child’s Amazon Fire tablet settings are secure, visit the Amazon Parent Dashboard.
Games can also be played on a smart devices like phones and tablets. They can be played on a website or downloaded through the device's app store.
We recommend checking the settings on the smart device and within the game itself, to make sure your child is safe while playing the game, especially if it's online.
Game age ratings
All games in the UK are Pan-European Game Information or PEGI rated. This can help you understand whether the game is appropriate for your child. It does not take into consideration chat functions within the game.
Along with this age rating restriction, games also contain information on the type of content in the game, such as violence, drugs, sex, bad language, fear, and gambling. This information is shown through displaying the relevant icon.
You can find out more about game age ratings on the PEGI website.
The game contains images or descriptions of violence. For PEGI 7 games this is non-realistic and non- detailed. For PEGI 12 games this can include violence in a fantasy environment. PEGI 16 or 18 games contain more realistic looking violence.
The game contains bad language from mild swearing to sexual expletives and blasphemy. The severity will depend on the PEGI rating of the game.
The game contains image or sounds that might be frightening or scary.
The game contains elements that encourages or teaches gambling.
This refers to content of an explicit nature, posting or innuendos. If the nudity is of a non-sexual context, they do not require a specific age rating.
The game includes reference to illegal drugs use, alcohol or tobacco.
The game contains depictions of ethnic, religious, nationalist or other stereotypes likely to encourage hatred.
The game offers the option to purchase digital goods or services with real-world currency.
Chat and message functions
In game chat, messages, and comment functions can vary from group chats to private messages. Some games allow you to turn this function off or limit who you can talk to.
These chat functions can allow strangers to talk to your child, with some games centred around the idea of building a team online to carry out tasks. It’s worth checking the features of the game before buying it for your child.
We recommend turning the message function off or restricting it to friends only, so that they only chat with people they know. It’s best to check the game’s website for details on how to manage the chat function settings, as it can change for each game.
Talking to your child regularly about what they are doing online, and making it a part of your daily conversation, can help to keep them safe online.
Consider joining in when your child is playing a new game. Ask them what they like about it. It will help you understand the game, the functions and what they are doing.
In game purchasing and loot boxes
Many games give an option of purchasing in-game items such as new characters, apparel, accessories, skills, and weapons. These items are brought with real-world money.
A loot box is a mystery box of random items within a game that can be brought with real money or credits gained through playing the game.
What should I be aware of?
Game creators make the experience of opening a loot box exciting with bright graphics and fireworks. The boxes can include rare or sort-after items to encourage more spending or further game play.
The concern is that young people become captivated by the excitement of this experience, and as they get older seek the same feelings in other forms such as gambling.
What can I do?
All games in the UK have an age rating to help you understand if the game is suitable for your child. They also have information about in game purchasing or random paid items or loot boxes. These guides are there to help you make an informed decision on whether the game is appropriate for your child.
You can turn off in game, or in app, purchases or set a spending limit through the game’s settings.
Advice from our partners
You can find lots more advice and information on how to keep your child safe while gaming online from other public service organisations who we work with.