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Getting a video game console as a gift is a childhood memory that stays with many of us for our whole lives. Having children of our own and getting them a new console is just as exciting.

It's really worth spending some time setting things up. An hour spent carefully getting it out of the box, plugging it in and update the system and downloading games will ensure you don't have to wait to play when the gift is opened.

As well as this you can setup Family Controls to match how your children will use the device. This can sound a little complicated but is actually very simple.

Setting Up Your Console to Work For You

As you can see in the video here, the process is essentially the same on each of the main consoles:

  • PEGI App: Download the PEGI app on your Apple or Android smartphone. This provides information about game ratings but also useful tips and links to setting up your console. You can also access this information via the VSC Game Rating website.
  • Unpacking: Carefully get the console, cables, and controllers out of the box, so you can put it all back in afterward.
  • Plug-In: Connect the HDMI and power cables to start the console.
  • Updating System: Connect to wired or wireless internet to update the system and download and games.
  • Controllers: Connect the controllers to the console so they are charged and synced. them.
  • Parent User: Set-up an account for you to use with an email address you regularly check. Specify the base level of age, spending and screen time restrictions.
  • Child Accounts: Set-up accounts for each child to specify settings for age ratings, spending limits and screen time restrictions that suit each of them.
  • Play: Try out some of the games to familiarise yourself with them. This is not only about checking appropriateness but understanding why they are fun and being ready to play games together as a family.
  • Wrap: Put everything back in the packaging and wrap it up ready for the big day.

You can get more detailed step-by-step guides for each of the consoles in their official parental controls and family settings home pages:

Older systems also provide very good parental controls and family settings:

This whole process of updating, setting up and configuring users should take around an hour or so, but it is time well spent. Not only is your system ready to go on the big day but you are off on the right foot with users and settings.

Setting Up Nintendo

This video takes you through the different aspects of the Nintendo parental settings. On this system, you use a smartphone app that allows you to see what children are playing as well as setting limits on screen time and spending.

Setting Up Xbox One

This video shows you how to set-up the family settings on the Xbox One. Not only can you set time and age limits, but on the Xbox you can also set specific settings for each user in your family.

Setting Up PlayStation 4

This video shows you how to set-up the PlayStation parental controls. Like the other systems, you can control spending and playtime of your children. You can also set up a weekly pocket-money limit to keep things safe and sensible.

Get Smart About Play

This article is part of Get Smart About P.L.A.Y that provides parents and care-givers with a four-step process to help set parameters around play: 

For more on how to Get Smart about P.L.A.Y we have a range of articles to inspire and inform your family gaming. Or if you have a specific question why not ask the editor.

Avatar for Andrew Robertson
Andrew Robertson
Andy Robertson is the editor of AskAboutGames and has written for national press and broadcast about video games and families for over 15 years. He has just published the Taming Gaming book with its Family Video Game Database.