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Consumer Reports: Playstation 4's Faulty Parental Controls

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Sony's PS4's parental controls can restrict content that you might not want your children to see, like violent or adult games. But Consumer Reports says you could be surprised by what the parental controls allow. (Published Thursday, Mar 6, 2014)

    The Sony PlayStation 4 is one of the hottest selling gaming systems. The PS4’s parental controls can restrict content that you might not want your children to see, like violent or adult games. But Consumer Reports says you could be surprised by what the parental controls allow.

    The PlayStation 4 lets gamers stream live streams of any game they’re playing, including adult games or mature rated games. Kids can view these livestreams and they can comment on them and view other people’s comments, even if you have parental controls on.

    Also potentially disturbing, The Playroom. It comes pre-loaded on the PS4. Users who own the PlayStation 4’s camera can use it to capture video in their own living rooms, and share it across the PlayStation network. And anything goes! Those streams are also available to view, even if your parental controls are cranked up to the maximum limit. You may feel safe if you’ve disabled the Internet browser in parental controls. But Consumer Reports found that didn’t block the live-streamed video either.

    Sony’s website does provide instructions for blocking the live stream or “user-generated” content. It involves setting up what Sony calls a sub-account for your child. Consumer Reports found that it wasn’t a very intuitive process. There are multiple steps, and it isn’t very clear.

    If you have a PlayStation 4, Consumer Reports has these can find step-by-step instructions to block live-stream content, including The Playroom.

    NBC 5 reached out to Sony for comment regarding parental controls on PS4:

    The system supports parental controls, including the ability to completely block sub accounts from accessing social media feeds, as described below.

    The PlayStation 4 system is designed to help gamers share their game play through popular social channels. It is unfortunate that some individuals may abuse this feature and share inappropriate content. Our social media partners are experienced in monitoring and disabling users who violate their terms of service, and we are working in full cooperation with them to minimize these instances. PS4 users may block sub accounts from accessing social media feeds and viewing live broadcasted content on the PS4 system by setting the sub account’s User Generated Media parental control to restrict. We publish information about sub accounts widely including with the ESRB – you can see how to you can see how to set one up here.  http://www.esrb.org/about/parentalcontrol-ps3psp.jsp

    Stephanie Cirigliano
    Sony Computer Entertainment America

    Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website.