PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — If you have a video game console in your home, there’s probably someone playing online.

For children, there are potential perils that parents need to know about. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette “Game Guy” Max Parker says parents need to treat online gaming like any other social network.

“Anyone who has access to these consoles can communicate with pretty much anyone,” Parker says.

The three most popular home video game consoles all provide tools to help parents, but it can be intimidating for first-time users.

“Parental controls aren’t anything you even think about, you even consider, you even explore until you need to use them,” Parker says.

Newly expanded parental controls are being rolled out as part of the next major system software update 5.50 for the PlayStation 4. It’s introducing play time management, which will allow parents to limit a child’s time spent playing and restrict the times of day when they’re allowed to play.

The PlayStation 4 does not require an email address to create a profile for a child, but the Xbox One does. Parents must create a Microsoft email account for their child before they can create a profile to control.

Parents with a Nintendo Switch in their home can use a mobile app to help control their child’s online gaming activity.

Once parents are ready start taking control of their child’s online gaming, where should they draw the line?

“I would make sure to lock down messaging services,” Parker says. “Make sure that nobody can send him any friend requests. Make sure no one can communicate with him via voice chat or text chat or anything like that.”

The ESRB has a dedicated website that includes a step-by-step guide on setting up parental controls for most major video game consoles.

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