How to Set Up Parental Controls on a Nintendo 3DS

Introduction

In This Guide
You'll Learn How To:
  • Understand the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) and what their ratings mean.
  • Enable the various Parental Control options that are available on the Nintendo 3DS, including first time setup.
  • Unlock your console if you forget your parental control PIN.
Before We Begin:
    • Have access to your 3DS.

Nintendo 3DS logo

1 ESRB Ratings

The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) ratings provide guidance about video games and apps so that you can make informed choices about the ones you deem suitable for your family.

The ESRB is a single group, and only provides opinions on content. They are there to help give you an overview of the themes present in a game, not make decisions what is best for your child.

Parts of ESRB Ratings

  • Rating Categories suggest age appropriateness.
  • Content Descriptors indicate content that may have triggered a particular rating and/or may be of interest or concern.
  • Interactive Elements highlight interactive or online features of a product, including users' ability to interact with each other, the sharing of users' location with other users, if purchases of digital goods or services are offered, and/or if unrestricted internet access is provided.

You can find the ESRB ratings on the front of physical games, with the content descriptor on the back.
Locations for the ESRB ratings

Box Front

A small logo will be printed on the front of the game box, or prominently in the online store for the game.

Rating Pending
ESRB Rating PendingGames, but usually just promotional material for games, that the ESRB hasn't rated yet.
Early Childhood
ESRB Early ChildhoodGames designed for a preschool audience. No content that parents would find objectionable.
Everyone
ESRB EveryoneGames that the ESRB believes to be "generally suitable for all ages". There may be infrequent mild or cartoon violence.
Everyone 10+
ESRB Everyone 10+Games that the ESRB believes is still acceptable to everyone, but may have more mild or cartoon violence, mild language, crude humor, or suggestive content.
Teen
ESRB TeenGames the ESRB finds suitable for teenagers. Things such as a moderate amount of violence, some language or adult themes, and crude humor.
Mature
ESRB MatureGames the ESRB believes is generally suitable for people 17 or over. Realistic violence, strong adult themes, language, and so forth.
Adults Only
ESRB Adults OnlyGames the ESRB believes are only suitable for adults 18 and over. Adult themes throughout, graphic depictions of adult themes, violence, and gambling with real-world money.

Content Descriptor

On the back of the box, a more expanded list of information about the rating, and a small list of why the rating was given is shown.
Example ESRB Content Descriptor

The primary information is repeated, here, just like the logo on the front. To the right, further information detailing what, exactly, gave it that rating. This is so you can make a more informed decision for your child.

ESRB
For further information, as well as to check the ratings before leaving home, you can always check the ESRB Website.

2 What Are Parental Controls

Parental Controls are a method you to customize or use preset options to control and restrict various settings on your 3DS.

You can choose to restrict the following 3DS features:

  • Game Rating: Restrict all usage (as well as purchase through the Nintendo eShop) of software exceeding the rating level of your choice.
  • Online Interaction in Games: Restrict the use of online features of software such as online play, conversation among users, and Miiverse posts.
  • Internet Browser: Prevent use of the Internet browser.
  • Wii U Shopping Services: Restrict the use of credit cards or the purchase of software through services such as the Nintendo eShop.
  • Miiverse: Restrict users from viewing or posting content.
    • As of Nov. 7th, 2017, the Miiverse service is no longer available.
  • Friend Registration: Prevent the registrations of friends.
  • Entertainment Excluding Games: Restrict the viewing of video content, both streaming and stored on physical media such as discs, and software with video playback functions.
  • Data Management: Restrict the deletion or moving of software or save data using Data Management.
  • Internet Settings: Restrict the addition, modification, or deletion of Internet settings.

3 First Time Setup of Parental Controls

  1. Open the System Settings software from the HOME Menu.
    home screen, highlighting the System Settings app.
  2. Select Parental Controls.
    Nintendo 3DS parental control settings
  3. Select Set to set up Parental Controls for the first time.
    Setting parental controls
  4. Select Next.
    Nintendo 3ds, next button
  5. Select OK.
    Confirmation for PIN information
  6. Select OK to begin choosing your PIN.
    Starting to choose a pin
  7. Choose a PIN code to ensure that your child cannot change your chosen settings.
    Inputting a pin
  8. You will be asked to enter the PIN twice to confirm.
    Confirming PIN
  9. Select OK.
    Starting the secret question
  10. Select a secret question and answer in case you forget your PIN. This can used to retrieve access to Parental Controls if you forget your PIN.
    Select a secret question
  11. Select OK to confirm your secret question.
    Secret question confirmation
  12. Select OK.
    Confirmation of pin and question
  13. By default, all Parental Control options are enabled. You can individually configure the settings to your needs by selecting the separate topics. Please note that you will need the PIN code to access certain important functions, including Internet Settings and Format System Memory.
    Parental control categories
  14. Once you are satisfied with your settings, tap the Done button to confirm.
    Parental control done button
  15. You will be taken back to the Parental Controls front screen.

? What would you like to do now?

  1. Change a setting
  2. Delete parental controls
  3. I need help because I forgot my PIN

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In This Guide
You'll Learn How To:
  • Understand the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) and what their ratings mean.
  • Enable the various Parental Control options that are available on the Nintendo 3DS, including first time setup.
  • Unlock your console if you forget your parental control PIN.
Before We Begin:
    • Have access to your 3DS.

Nintendo 3DS logo

The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) ratings provide guidance about video games and apps so that you can make informed choices about the ones you deem suitable for your family.

The ESRB is a single group, and only provides opinions on content. They are there to help give you an overview of the themes present in a game, not make decisions what is best for your child.

Parts of ESRB Ratings

  • Rating Categories suggest age appropriateness.
  • Content Descriptors indicate content that may have triggered a particular rating and/or may be of interest or concern.
  • Interactive Elements highlight interactive or online features of a product, including users' ability to interact with each other, the sharing of users' location with other users, if purchases of digital goods or services are offered, and/or if unrestricted internet access is provided.

You can find the ESRB ratings on the front of physical games, with the content descriptor on the back.
Locations for the ESRB ratings

Box Front

A small logo will be printed on the front of the game box, or prominently in the online store for the game.

Rating Pending
ESRB Rating PendingGames, but usually just promotional material for games, that the ESRB hasn't rated yet.
Early Childhood
ESRB Early ChildhoodGames designed for a preschool audience. No content that parents would find objectionable.
Everyone
ESRB EveryoneGames that the ESRB believes to be "generally suitable for all ages". There may be infrequent mild or cartoon violence.
Everyone 10+
ESRB Everyone 10+Games that the ESRB believes is still acceptable to everyone, but may have more mild or cartoon violence, mild language, crude humor, or suggestive content.
Teen
ESRB TeenGames the ESRB finds suitable for teenagers. Things such as a moderate amount of violence, some language or adult themes, and crude humor.
Mature
ESRB MatureGames the ESRB believes is generally suitable for people 17 or over. Realistic violence, strong adult themes, language, and so forth.
Adults Only
ESRB Adults OnlyGames the ESRB believes are only suitable for adults 18 and over. Adult themes throughout, graphic depictions of adult themes, violence, and gambling with real-world money.

Content Descriptor

On the back of the box, a more expanded list of information about the rating, and a small list of why the rating was given is shown.
Example ESRB Content Descriptor

The primary information is repeated, here, just like the logo on the front. To the right, further information detailing what, exactly, gave it that rating. This is so you can make a more informed decision for your child.

ESRB
For further information, as well as to check the ratings before leaving home, you can always check the ESRB Website.

Parental Controls are a method you to customize or use preset options to control and restrict various settings on your 3DS.

You can choose to restrict the following 3DS features:

  • Game Rating: Restrict all usage (as well as purchase through the Nintendo eShop) of software exceeding the rating level of your choice.
  • Online Interaction in Games: Restrict the use of online features of software such as online play, conversation among users, and Miiverse posts.
  • Internet Browser: Prevent use of the Internet browser.
  • Wii U Shopping Services: Restrict the use of credit cards or the purchase of software through services such as the Nintendo eShop.
  • Miiverse: Restrict users from viewing or posting content.
    • As of Nov. 7th, 2017, the Miiverse service is no longer available.
  • Friend Registration: Prevent the registrations of friends.
  • Entertainment Excluding Games: Restrict the viewing of video content, both streaming and stored on physical media such as discs, and software with video playback functions.
  • Data Management: Restrict the deletion or moving of software or save data using Data Management.
  • Internet Settings: Restrict the addition, modification, or deletion of Internet settings.
  1. Open the System Settings software from the HOME Menu.
    home screen, highlighting the System Settings app.
  2. Select Parental Controls.
    Nintendo 3DS parental control settings
  3. Select Set to set up Parental Controls for the first time.
    Setting parental controls
  4. Select Next.
    Nintendo 3ds, next button
  5. Select OK.
    Confirmation for PIN information
  6. Select OK to begin choosing your PIN.
    Starting to choose a pin
  7. Choose a PIN code to ensure that your child cannot change your chosen settings.
    Inputting a pin
  8. You will be asked to enter the PIN twice to confirm.
    Confirming PIN
  9. Select OK.
    Starting the secret question
  10. Select a secret question and answer in case you forget your PIN. This can used to retrieve access to Parental Controls if you forget your PIN.
    Select a secret question
  11. Select OK to confirm your secret question.
    Secret question confirmation
  12. Select OK.
    Confirmation of pin and question
  13. By default, all Parental Control options are enabled. You can individually configure the settings to your needs by selecting the separate topics. Please note that you will need the PIN code to access certain important functions, including Internet Settings and Format System Memory.
    Parental control categories
  14. Once you are satisfied with your settings, tap the Done button to confirm.
    Parental control done button
  15. You will be taken back to the Parental Controls front screen.
  1. Open the System Settings software from the HOME Menu.
    home screen, highlighting the System Settings app.
  2. Select Parental Controls.
    Nintendo 3DS parental control settings
  3. Select Change.
    Change button
  4. Input your PIN.
    Confirming PIN
  5. Select Set Restrictions.
    Selecting restrictions
  6. Select your category and adjust your restrictions.
    Parental control categories
  7. Select Done when finished.
    Parental control done button
  1. Open the System Settings software from the HOME Menu.
    home screen, highlighting the System Settings app.
  2. Select Parental Controls.
    Nintendo 3DS parental control settings
  3. Select Clear Settings.
    Clear settings
  4. Select Delete.
    Deleting parental settings

Unfortunately if you have forgotten both your PIN and your secret question for Parental Controls, you'll need to prove your identity and the fact you're an adult to Nintendo.

This requires a credit card and a trip to https://parentalcontrols.nintendo.com/

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