PlayStation 3: Age Appropriate Gaming and Protecting Your Credit Card

Can you leave the kids with the PS3 safe in the knowledge that they won't be paying for virtual prostitutes with your credit card?

Having found Sony's measures to prevent children from watching inappropriate Blu-Ray and DVD content to be fairly worthless, I'm relieved to report that the control of games content is far more on point.

Game Security by Level (1-11)

Although this is another ambiguous ratings scale with the vague explanation that “The lower the level, the tighter the restriction,” unlike the Blu-Ray and DVD security, this system stood up to testing with the disallowed launch icons on the XMB (that's Sony's word for “desktop”, remember?) disappearing under restricted content labels as restrictions were tightened.

The only problem is figuring out what on earth the levels actually mean. Thankfully, regional video game ratings organisations are more on top of this and have taken the time to decipher Sony's security and provide advice corresponding to their rating systems as found on game packaging.

Sony Level ------ ESRB (US/Canada) ------ PEGI (Europe) ------ ACB (Australia)*
       2                 EC (Early Childhood 3+)                3+                            G
       3                      E (Everyone 6+)                         7+
       4                  E10 (Everyone 10+)                     PG
       5                        T (Teen 13+)                            12+                           M
       7                                                                          16+                       MA15+
       9                     M (Mature 17+)                           18+                         R18
      10                    AO (Adults Only 18+)

*Unofficial extrapolated ratings.

Apologies for not including all countries and territories, however Wikipedia has a very informative classification comparison table which may be of use.

PARENTAL WARNING: Nothing to see here, I was just checking you were still paying attention. Set parental control levels according to the above table and everything should be peachy.

Internet Browsing (On/Off)

You'll be pleased to know there's nothing to confuse you here. Either the kids can access the internet or they can't. Of course, you could just take the keyboard away and let them have at it with the ill-suited PS3 controller. At least they'll learn patience.

Securing the PlayStation Network

Elsewhere on the XMB lays access to the PlayStation Network, Sony's proprietary online shop and content delivery system. Access to which remains unaffected by all previous security restrictions. It is here that the customer can browse through the vast library of games, movies and other media and spend all of their parents' money.

However, there are a number of measures that can be put in place to prevent such juvenile smash-and-grabs, the simplest of which is don't enter your credit card details into the system. This is meant to be a cheap entertainment centre, remember, not a back door route for Sony to drain your wallet. However, in the event that you were unable to resist buying that game everyone's talking about, there are a few alternatives.

  • Delete your billing details after each transaction:

Playstation Network > Account Management > Account Information > Billing Information > Delete Billing Information

  • Require a password challenge prior to confirming every purchase:

Playstation Network > Account Management > Transaction Management > Require Password at Checkout

There is also facility to provide a controlled amount of funding to a wallet or use PlayStation Network cards and redemption codes. However the funding can only be provided in set increments which may leave you with a few useless pennies sitting in the wallet – essentially meaning you've overpaid.

Playstation Network sub accounts can be created with additional restrictions. Sub accounts are automatically created by registering a new PlayStation Network account with the details of a minor and affiliating the account to the adult Master account.

I intend to expand on surviving the Playstation Network in a later article [which will be linked here], but for now I hope this piece has furnished the latent and ageing console user with enough knowledge to join the PlayStation generation between bouts of gardening and absent-mindedness.

Your grand-kids will love you for it.


PlayStation 3 Retirement Assignment Series

  1. The Family Fallback for 'The Other Room'
  2. Making the PS3 Grandparent Friendly
  3. Childproofing the PlayStation 3: Parental Control Guidance
  4. PlayStation 3: Age Appropriate Gaming and Protecting Your Credit Card

Featured Columnist

Broken paramedic and coffee-drinking Englishman whose favourite dumb animal is an oxymoron. After over a decade of humping and dumping the fat and the dead, my lower spine did things normally reserved for Rubik's cubes, bringing my career as a medical clinician to an unexpectedly early end. Fortunately, my real passion is in writing and given that I'm now highly qualified in the art of sitting down, I have the time to pursue it. Having blogged about video games (well, mostly EVE Online) for years, I hope to channel my enjoyment of wordcraft and my hobby of gaming into one handy new career that doesn't involve other people's vomit.

Published Jun. 13th 2013
  • Richard_1770
    Hi and thanks for the expiation. The only problem is it relays on the publisher to provide an accurate rating. GTA V which is rate R18+ Adults only has a play station rating of 9 but even according to your table it should be 10 and with parental controls set at 9 it would then correctly not let the kids play GTA V. However with a rating at level 9 I have to change parental controls to 8 and then almost all the games cannot be played, ie. MA15+ games. Very frustrating.
  • Mat Westhorpe
    Featured Columnist
    I'm glad this helped, even if only partially. Sadly my table is only approximate and there are certainly some fuzzy edges. It would perhaps make more sense for the Playstation to enable specific games to be password-protected rather than try (and fail) to create a one-size fits all system, although I doubt Sony will change anything now, especially with the PS4 imminent.

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