Gaming has changed a lot in the last decade or so. Games are now primarily designed to be played online, in-game purchases and microtransactions are commonplace, and skins and customisation have given players even more to love about their gaming experiences.
Gaming can form a significant part of people’s identity and it’s important that we find ways to protect and encourage the healthy parts of it while being mindful of the associated risks.
This 5 in 5 safety check-up is all about staying safe when playing PlayStation. We’ll also be uploading an Xbox guide in the next few weeks with advice specific to that console, so don’t worry – no console will be left behind!
Create Family Accounts on your PlayStation
This is the cornerstone of putting safety first on your PlayStation.
You may see this function called different things in different places. PlayStation previously referred to Master Accounts and Sub Accounts, but has recently changed the system to Family Managers and Adult and Child Family Members.
The principle remains the same, though. There is one main account that has a degree of administration and oversight over other accounts ‘beneath’ it.
PlayStation has a comprehensive guide to the who, what, and how of Family Accounts but some of the basics about different categories of account include:
- Have full access to all PlayStation features and controls
- Are the only users who can add members to the Family and give other Adult Family Members access to parental control settings
- There can only be one Family Manager in a Family
Child Family Members
- Can use the PlayStation system and features within the limits of the parental controls
- Can spend funds from the Family Manager's wallet within a spending limit set by the Family Manager
- Can communicate with other PlayStation Network (PSN) users, subject to parental controls
Adult Family Members
- Have full, unrestricted access to PlayStation Network on their account and their own wallet for purchases from PlayStation Store
- Cannot add members to the Family
- Can only set parental controls for children if they have been made a Parent or Guardian by the Family Manager
Control how much (if any) money can be spent
Spending on gaming is nothing new, but the method has shifted. You no longer need to go to a bricks and mortar shop to pick up the hot new release, you can buy it digitally and play it as soon as it’s downloaded… and then start paying for the in-game microtransactions too!
These microtransactions can be helpful, enjoyable, and make your gaming experience better. They can also be risky, with reports of some young players unknowingly racking up hundreds of pounds in bills and some countries outlawing them entirely.
Thankfully, PlayStation have made it easy to control how much your Child Accounts can spend. It takes just five steps to set spending limits for Child Accounts.
Set limits on Play Time
Some people might see this as controversial, and we have previously discussed the differences between screen time and screen use, but setting a limit on Play Time for Child Accounts can be a sensible way to keep a healthy balance with gaming.
You can choose various settings for Play Time – for example, for total playable hours, session duration, or end time.
Play Time management is easy and can be done via the PS4 system, web browser, or PlayStation App. PlayStation have a clear and simple guide for setting up Play Time limits for all three of those methods.
Know your age ratings
Every game you buy and play will have a Pan European Game Information (PEGI) rating. This is the European standard for age rating games, introduced in 2003 to standardise the dozens of similar-but-not-precisely-the-same ratings used across the continent.
There are five ratings – 3, 7, 12, 16, and 18 – and a range of a content descriptors that detail what in the game could be considered harmful or offensive.
If you want another view on the ratings of games, based on the experiences of parents, children, and experts, we recommend using the magnificent Common Sense Media’s game reviews.
Use parental controls
Play Time, PSN purchases, and Family Accounts are all part of the wider parental controls available on your PlayStation 4. There are some other features that you can enable or disable to protect your younger users and give you peace of mind.
For example, you can:
- Restrict access to network features
- Set age ratings
- Disable use of the web browser and PlayStation VR
- Stop children from changing parental controls
- Subscribe and enable PlayStation’s web filter
Learn how to make all of these – and more – happen with PlayStation’s guide to setting parental controls.
🎉 BONUS TIP 🎉
Pick up a controller yourself
Fear is based in the unknown.
If you’re worried about gaming, you might just benefit from diving in at the deep end and playing a couple of Battle Royales.
It’ll be confusing, hectic, loud, and a lot of fun.
Once you’ve played these games, you’ll understand their appeal. And if you end up thinking they’re even more stupid than you first thought, at least you’ll have an idea of the environments and platforms your kids are inhabiting.
Thanks for reading, we’ll see you on the server...