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Parental controls for video game systems

Q. We’re buying our family a video game console this Christmas. I’ve heard that the newer consoles can access the Internet and download movies and other content. I’m a little worried that our kids will stumble onto things they shouldn’t. Do game consoles have parental controls? If so, how do we set them? Thank you!
-Madeline from Miami, FL, listens to my national radio show on WIOD 610 AM/100.3 FM

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A. A video game console makes a wonderful family gift. Each console has plenty of family-friendly games you’re sure to love. If you haven’t decided what system to get, check out my video game console buying guide. It will help steer you in the right direction.

You are correct to be concerned, however. Modern game consoles do much more than simply play games. Even many of the games they can play aren’t kid friendly. You’ll definitely need to take care that your kids don’t access anything inappropriate.

Fortunately, you have some help. All three major game consoles (Wii, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3), have built-in parental controls. You just have to know where to look.

Of course, the first step is to avoid buying inappropriate games for your kids. Video game stores are alien worlds to many parents. The colorful box art doesn’t always represent the content inside.

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