With all of the products that are available to help parents control children’s media consumption, deciding what to use can be confusing. Parents may not even be aware of tools that are already available to them through their cable or satellite services, TVs, Personal Video Recorders (PVRs), and other media center electronics. Most parental control tools function to block or filter contents or a combination of the two.
The following is a brief overview of the different types of parental control devices available. Click on the heading links for more detailed information about the products available for each type of technology.
As of January 1, 2000, the FCC has required all television sets with picture screens 33 centimeters (13 inches) or larger to be equipped with features to block the display of television programming based upon its rating. This technology is known as the "V-Chip." The V-Chip reads information encoded in the rated program and blocks programs from the set based upon the rating selected by the parent.The rating appears in the corner of your television screen during the first 15 seconds of a program and in TV programming guides. Using the remote control, parents can program the V-chip to block certain shows based on their ratings. Instructions for programming the V-chip can be found in the operating manual for your television.
(Information provided by the FCC)
Blocking technologies allow parents to lock children out of viewing media content in several different ways. For television programming, blocks can allow parents to lock certain channels, prohibit shows of specified ratings from playing, lock out viewing for specified time periods, or a combination of these methods. This technology is built in to many TV sets, and is offered by cable companies, satellite companies, and PVR systems. However, you will have to consult your TV or PVR operation manual and your cable or satellite provider to find out about the types of blocks available and how to program them. Several different content blocking products can also be purchased for televisions.
Most DVD players and game consoles also allow parental control. Parents can program the DVD player, or consoles like the Xbox, to block movies with undesired ratings from playing. The player reads the DVD rating from the disc and will not play a movie if the rating is prohibited.
Filters (More information)
Filtering technology filters out offensive content from TV or movies, allowing children to watch an edited version of the program. Some filters are available for the television which block out offensive language. Most filters, however, are built into electronics such as DVD players. A number of companies used to offer edited DVDs to purchase or rent, but recent court rulings have forced these companies to stop the service.