Parental Controls

Tips for parents for encouraging healthy video game play

Video games are a way for parents, children and their friends to stay connected, and socialize. Games are an important part of Canada’s social fabric, providing entertainment, education and even fitness. ESAC is committed to supporting safe and fun game play for families.


For parents who may be concerned about what their children are playing and about their screen time, this information will help ensure parents are aware of all the tools available to them to control screen-time, in-game spending and privacy.

Four steps for parents to encourage good game playing behaviour

  1. Check ESRB rating

ESRB provides age labelling and content descriptors that alert parents to in-game purchases, bad language, violence, frightening content, drugs, sex or discrimination, for example. All major video games and platforms have ESRB ratings as an integral part of their parental controls systems. ESRB ratings provide information about what’s in a game or app so parents and consumers can make informed choices about which games are right for their family. Ratings have 3 parts: Rating Categories, Content Descriptors, and Interactive Elements. (Source: ESRB)

  1. Use parental controls

All gaming consoles, handheld devices and operating systems for PC and Mac are equipped with parental control systems, allowing parents to protect their children’s privacy and online safety. With these control tools, parents can:

  • select which games your children are allowed to play (based on the ESRB age ratings)
  • control and monitor the use of digital purchases
  • limit access to internet browsing by applying a filter
  • control the amount of time that children can spend playing games
  • control the level of online interaction (chat) and exchange of data (text messages, user-generated content)
  1. Talk to your child & play with your child

Research shows that families who play together and/or take the time to discuss video game play with their children have the healthiest relationship with video game playing, get the most out of it and have the fewest arguments about play time.

Take the time to play together and enjoy your child’s hobby with them.

  1. Appreciate the benefits!

Well-managed video game play brings huge benefits. Video games are not only an excellent source for entertainment, players also benefit from practicing motor skills, problem solving, team playing, improved memory, attention and concentration, multi-tasking and social skills. Recent research shows that video game playing girls are three times more likely to enroll in STEM programs than girls who don’t play. Video games are being used in schools with a view to increasing student engagement and learning outcomes.

ESAC produced series of parental control videos with Marc Saltzman that provide parents with the knowledge to ensure their children are enjoying age-appropriate content on their video game consoles.

Xbox Series X/S

PlayStation 5

Nintendo Switch

PlayStation 4

Xbox One

iOS / Android

ESRB Parental Tools