By Common Sense Media
Nintendo’s newest handheld gaming device, the DSi, packs a lot of power. But it also gives parents some power, by letting you restrict access to nearly all of the DSi's connectivity features. You can program the settings at the initial set up, but you can also very easily change the settings back and forth any time you want. The settings are password protected.
After you turn on the device, use the stylus to select “settings” (it's the little wrench icon). Follow the set up to the Parental Control menu, where you’ll be prompted to set up your password.
The first setting you’ll control is what level of ESRB rating you want to allow the device to play. For example, you can restrict all T and M-rated games, and only allow E 10 or even only the Early Childhood games. That means that the device won’t play any games for an age higher than what you’ve selected. If you’re unsure of what level to select, the DSi gives you a little explanation of each rating. If you set it to restrict M and T-rated games, even if your kid buys an M or T-rated game at the DSi store, it won’t play on this device until you allow it.
The other controls include restricting access to the PictoChat, a chatting application, Download Play, which lets kids share their game with other DSi users, the DSi browser, which lets kids surf the Web, and other connectivity settings.
Discuss each setting with your kid so they’re aware of what they have access to and what they don’t -- and why. For younger kids, you might want to be more restrictive, but for older kids you might allow access to some features and not others. Or let your kid “earn” each level by demonstrating good, responsible ownership of the device, by respecting the rules you’ve imposed -- like time limits, the kind of content that’s OK to send and receive, and when and where it’s OK to use it.