How to Set Up Parental Controls on a PlayStation 3

Introduction

In This Guide
You'll Learn:
  • What ESRB ratings are.
  • What can be restricted using parental controls.
  • How parental controls may impact your experience.
  • Setting up a parental controls password.
  • How to access restricted content.
  • How to configure the different types of parental controls.
Before We Begin:
  • Have access to your PlayStation 3.
PlayStation 3

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 About Parental Controls

What Can Parental Controls Restrict?

Your PlayStation 3 has access to Parental Control settings which can be used to restrict access to the device and certain content. The following things can be restricted:

DVDs
Block access to DVD movies by Parental Management Level (1-8).
Blu-Ray Discs
Block access to Blu-ray (high-definition) movies by age (0-254).
Games
Restrict games by ESRB rating level (1-11).
Web Site Browsing
While website filtering cannot be done on the PlayStation 3, you can restrict the capability to launch the Internet browser.

No parental control system is 100% perfect. The best solution is active, engaged parenting; working with your child to ensure they develop good habits through your instruction and guidance. 

How Are Parental Control Restrictions Enforced?

The Parental control restrictions you choose are put into place across the entire game console, and cannot be set to only affect a single or specific user account. Therefore, if your PlayStation 3 has multiple user accounts, they will all end up being restricted in the same way. When a user encounters a parental control restriction, they are prompted to enter a password. Without this password, they cannot proceed.

Because this is the case, you should always set parental control restrictions with the youngest user of your PlayStation 3 console in mind.

Example:

  • There are 1 adult and 2 children in the home who will all be using the console
  • The children are ages 9 and 15

In this case, you would want to configure parental control restrictions based upon what content you would be comfortable with the 9 year old having access to. These settings would then also apply to all the other users on the PlayStation 3. The password that will be set on your PlayStation 3 can be used to bypass parental control restrictions.

3 Set/Change Password

Setting a password on your PlayStation 3 is necessary to protect it from unwanted adjustments to system settings. This password is also used to lock out users from accessing restricted content that has been blocked via parental control settings.

This is a master password that will be used across all of the user accounts on your PlayStation 3 console. There is no way to set specific passwords for individual user accounts.

To Set a Password for Your PlayStation 3

  1. Select Settings and then Security Settings.
    Settings and Security Settings
  2. Select Change Password.
    Change Password
  3. Enter your old password.
    Enter Old Password

    The default password to setup parental controls is 0000. If this does not work, or you have forgotten your PS3 password, choose Settings > System Settings > Restore Default Settings to reset the password to 0000.

  4. Choose a new password.
    Enter new password
  5. Select Yes to confirm your password change.
    Password change conformation
  6. You will receive a prompt that your password was updated.
    Password updated

4 Bypassing Content Restrictions

Can Parental Controls Be Bypassed?

Yes, parental controls can be bypassed easily. The password that was set on your PlayStation 3 acts as a sort of gatekeeper. It prevents unwanted adjustments to system settings and locks out users from accessing restricted content that has been blocked via parental control settings. Any time a user attempts to alter system settings, or encounters content that is blocked by your parental control settings, the user will be prompted for this password. Inputting the password successfully bypasses an individual restriction that was encountered by the user.

Because there is only one password for the entire console, be careful of making the password common knowledge throughout your home. If the password becomes common knowledge, this will make your restrictions ineffective. Periodically changing your console's password may be necessary depending on your household situation.

Password Prompt

? What parental control feature would you like more information about?

  1. Setup Blu-ray disc age restrictions.
  2. Change the Blu-ray disc and DVD regional settings.
  3. Setup DVD parental controls
  4. Setup parental control levels for games
  5. Restrict Internet Usage

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In This Guide
You'll Learn:
  • What ESRB ratings are.
  • What can be restricted using parental controls.
  • How parental controls may impact your experience.
  • Setting up a parental controls password.
  • How to access restricted content.
  • How to configure the different types of parental controls.
Before We Begin:
  • Have access to your PlayStation 3.
PlayStation 3

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.

What Can Parental Controls Restrict?

Your PlayStation 3 has access to Parental Control settings which can be used to restrict access to the device and certain content. The following things can be restricted:

DVDs
Block access to DVD movies by Parental Management Level (1-8).
Blu-Ray Discs
Block access to Blu-ray (high-definition) movies by age (0-254).
Games
Restrict games by ESRB rating level (1-11).
Web Site Browsing
While website filtering cannot be done on the PlayStation 3, you can restrict the capability to launch the Internet browser.

No parental control system is 100% perfect. The best solution is active, engaged parenting; working with your child to ensure they develop good habits through your instruction and guidance. 

How Are Parental Control Restrictions Enforced?

The Parental control restrictions you choose are put into place across the entire game console, and cannot be set to only affect a single or specific user account. Therefore, if your PlayStation 3 has multiple user accounts, they will all end up being restricted in the same way. When a user encounters a parental control restriction, they are prompted to enter a password. Without this password, they cannot proceed.

Because this is the case, you should always set parental control restrictions with the youngest user of your PlayStation 3 console in mind.

Example:

  • There are 1 adult and 2 children in the home who will all be using the console
  • The children are ages 9 and 15

In this case, you would want to configure parental control restrictions based upon what content you would be comfortable with the 9 year old having access to. These settings would then also apply to all the other users on the PlayStation 3. The password that will be set on your PlayStation 3 can be used to bypass parental control restrictions.

Setting a password on your PlayStation 3 is necessary to protect it from unwanted adjustments to system settings. This password is also used to lock out users from accessing restricted content that has been blocked via parental control settings.

This is a master password that will be used across all of the user accounts on your PlayStation 3 console. There is no way to set specific passwords for individual user accounts.

To Set a Password for Your PlayStation 3

  1. Select Settings and then Security Settings.
    Settings and Security Settings
  2. Select Change Password.
    Change Password
  3. Enter your old password.
    Enter Old Password

    The default password to setup parental controls is 0000. If this does not work, or you have forgotten your PS3 password, choose Settings > System Settings > Restore Default Settings to reset the password to 0000.

  4. Choose a new password.
    Enter new password
  5. Select Yes to confirm your password change.
    Password change conformation
  6. You will receive a prompt that your password was updated.
    Password updated

Can Parental Controls Be Bypassed?

Yes, parental controls can be bypassed easily. The password that was set on your PlayStation 3 acts as a sort of gatekeeper. It prevents unwanted adjustments to system settings and locks out users from accessing restricted content that has been blocked via parental control settings. Any time a user attempts to alter system settings, or encounters content that is blocked by your parental control settings, the user will be prompted for this password. Inputting the password successfully bypasses an individual restriction that was encountered by the user.

Because there is only one password for the entire console, be careful of making the password common knowledge throughout your home. If the password becomes common knowledge, this will make your restrictions ineffective. Periodically changing your console's password may be necessary depending on your household situation.

Password Prompt

You can block access to Blu-ray movies by setting an age restriction. Age restrictions are based on ratings for your region and are usually "baked in" to the Blu-ray disc you're inserting into your PlayStation 3. Age values can be set from 0-254. When setting restrictions, generally the lower the value, the tighter the restriction.

Not all Blu-ray movies are compatible with these settings.

Remember, parental control settings on your PlayStation 3 will affect all user accounts.

To Set Blu-Ray Disc Parental Controls

  1. Scroll over to Settings, then select Security Settings.
    Settings and Security Settings
  2. Select BD Parental Control.
    BD Parental Control
  3. Enter your password.
    Enter Password
  4. If you wish to restrict Blu-ray content by age, select Restrict (On).
    Restrict by age prompt
  5. Choose an age restriction that you are comfortable with, then press the X button to confirm it.
    Age Restriction

If you would like more information on PlayStation 3 parental controls, click the Show me how link below.

Show Me How

Clicking this button will open a new guide that will provide you with steps to resolve your issue.

Parental controls vary based off the region you live in. Therefore, setting the region you are located in will allow your PlayStation 3 to use age ratings relevant to your region.

To Select Your Region

  1. Scroll over to Settings, then select Security Settings.
    Settings and Security Settings
  2. Select BD/DVD - Parental Control Region Code.
    BD/DVD Parental Control Region Code
  3. Enter your password.
    Enter password
  4. Select the region you live in. This helps the PlayStation 3 understand what content ratings should apply to the media it encounters.
    Region Selection

You can block access to DVD movies via Parental Management Level (PML). PML level is based on movie ratings for your region. In the United States, these ratings are set by the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) and are usually "baked in" to DVD movies during the manufacturing process. Sony equates their PML levels to MPAA movie ratings as follows:

Parental Management Level 2
G RatingThe MPAA deems this film contains nothing in theme, language, nudity and sex, violence, etc. which would be offensive to parents whose younger children view the film.
Parental Management Level 3
PG RatingThis is a film which clearly needs to be examined or inquired into by parents before they let their children under 10 attend. The label PG plainly states that parents may consider some material unsuitable for their children under 10, but the parent must make the decision.
Parental Management Level 4
PG13 RatingPG-13 is thus a sterner warning to parents to determine for themselves the attendance in particular of their younger children as they might consider some material not suited for them. Parents are alerted to be very careful about the attendance of their under-teenage children.
Parental Management Level 6
RThis film may include hard language, or tough violence, or nudity within sensual scenes, or drug abuse or other elements, or a combination of some of the above, so that parents are counseled, in advance, to take this advisory rating very seriously. It has been suggested by the MPAA as not suitable for children under the age of 16.
Parental Management Level 7
NC17The MPAA believes that this is a film that most parents will consider patently too adult for their youngsters 17 and under. The reasons for the application of an NC-17 rating can be violence or sex or aberrational behavior or drug abuse or any other elements which, when present, most parents would consider too strong and therefore off-limits for viewing by their children.

Because the PML level of a DVD is set by the publisher when it is physically made, the parental control levels on your PlayStation 3 do not always correspond properly to a specific movie's rating. This means that not all DVD movies will be compatible with your parental control settings.

Remember, parental control settings on your PlayStation 3 will affect all user accounts.

To Set DVD Parental Control

  1. Scroll over to Settings, then select Security Settings.
    Settings and Security Settings
  2. Select DVD Parental Control.
    DVD Parental Control
  3. Enter your password.
    Enter password
  4. Select the level of restriction you would like to enforce for DVD movies.
    DVD Parental Control Levels

Before you can properly set game restrictions on your PlayStation 3, you first need to know how parental control levels relate to the ESRB game rating system. Parental control levels and their associated ESRB ratings are as follows:

Because different regions use different game content rating systems, your PS3 uses a level system (levels 1-11) that correspond with a specific region's game ratings system. The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) has fewer ratings categories than Sony's level system has levels, therefore not all selectable levels are represented here.

Parental Control Level 2
ESRB Early ChildhoodGames designed for a preschool audience. No content that parents would find objectionable.
Parental Control Level 3
ESRB EveryoneGames that the ESRB believes to be "generally suitable for all ages". There may be infrequent mild or cartoon violence.
Parental Control Level 4
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.
Parental Control Level 5
ESRB TeenGames the ESRB finds suitable for teenagers. Things such as a moderate amount of violence, some language or adult themes, and crude humor.
Parental Control Level 9
ESRB MatureGames the ESRB believes is generally suitable for people 17 or over. Realistic violence, strong adult themes, language, and so forth.
Parental Control Level 10
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.
Unrated Games
ESRB Rating PendingGames or promotional material for games that have been deemed Rating Pending (RP) by the ESRB, simply have not been given a rating. Because of this, it is impossible to be able to tell what rating that title might have otherwise received. Your PlayStation 3 will give you the opportunity to manually restrict these titles when configuring game restriction settings.
  1. Scroll over to Settings, then select Security Settings.
    Settings and Security Settings
  2. Select Parental Control.
    Parental Control
  3. Enter your password.
    Enter password
  4. Select the level of game restriction you would like to use.
    Parental control level selection
  5. You will be prompted to select a preference for games that do not have an ESRB rating (RP or Rating Pending titles). To blanket restrict all titles that have no rating, select Restrict Starting a Game with No Parental Control Settings. A check mark will appear in the box.
    Restrict game with no rating
  6. Select OK to confirm.
    OK

You can restrict access to the Internet browser to prevent a child from using the Internet through the PlayStation 3 system.

This will not prevent the launch of some applications that use the internet.

To Restrict the Internet Browser

  1. Scroll over to Settings, then select Security Settings.
    Settings and Security Settings
  2. Select Internet Browser Start Control.
    Internet Browser Start Control
  3. Enter your password.
    Enter password
  4. To restrict access to the Internet browser, select On. If you do not wish to restrict the browser, leave this setting Off.
    Turn on or off the internet browser restriction
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