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XXX Games?

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 When it comes to keeping their children safe online, parents like Branden Saccomani tend to be vigilant.

"She knows that she needs to ask permission.  She needs to let me know that she's doing it, and myself and my husband make sure that our X-box account is locked down."

Just like the internet has become more and more dangerous over the years, gaming systems have changed, too.  Gone are the innocent days of the Magnavox Odyssey in the 70's, the poor Atari Frogger frog and Ninetendo's Mario Brothers in the 80's. Today's Xbox ONE's and PS4's are included in the 8th generation of gaming consoles, and it's evident how times have changed!

The addition of cameras to the gaming consoles allow the world to see not only what game you're playing, but the world can also see you as you're playing it.  As a result, people started broadcasting all kinds of things.  So-called gamers began putting themselves on full display, some of them going so far as having sex while thousands of people, possibly some underaged, watched. 

It quickly became a trending topic all across the internet.

"What did you think would happen if you gave people a live webcam and an account to do stuff with it," questioned the  RedTeam Review on YouTube.  "Did you honestly think they would just stream games?"

"It got of weird, and it got kind of dark quick," noted another person on Pat the NES Punk's YouTube channel.  "nudity, sex, questionable situations."

We asked local parents about it...

"They need to find those people," said Leander Jones, Sr. of Birmingham, "because that's for kids- the gaming system.  They need to prosecute them. That's how I feel."

"They shouldn't be introduced to that nor should they have access to that," added Eugene Sanders.  His son, Noah, has an Xbox.  "If something was occurring we would most definitely know or at some point in time, we would actually see it for ourselves."

According to a study commissioned by Cox Communications, 44% of teens admitted to looking at something online their parents wouldn't approve of.  Only 28% of the parents surveyed were aware of this.

"It's a full time job to keep up with the technology as parents," says Dr. Holly Deemer, a clinical psychologist with Grayson and Associates.  She says parents need to know about the technology that's out there.  "And then we want to open open up communication with our children and say, 'I know that you may have access to things.  I know that your gaming system can get you online.  You can live stream.  So let's talk about what our limits are as a family.'"

Deemer says parents have to fight hard to guide their children toward what's appropriate and normal.

"It gets much more blurred when it's mixed in with the gaming psychologically.  It's dangerous because it just starts to infiltrate their mind as to what they think is normal, and the more they see the more normal it seems."

She says that can desensitize them to the unhealthy nature of what's being shown. That's why that open line of communication is very important.

Saccomani agrees.

"Keep an open level of communication with your kids and make sure that you're talking to them about it.  They don't always know the best thing to do."

You can view Dr. Deemer's entire interview.  It is posted above this story.  In the interview, Dr. Deemer talks about how to approach the conversation with your child.

What the companies have to say

Twitch TV has not responded to our request for comment, but we learned the company pulled the PS4's live streams from it's streaming directory back in November.

Ustream tells us:
"At Ustream, we adhere to strict Terms of Service and Acceptable Use policies, so that we can provide the most scalable and social live video platform for our users. Our partners share the same sentiment, and we work closely to make sure content is appropriate and that proper safeguards are in place. Our content monitors work to make sure that the proper actions are taken when users abuse our live video platform."
Sony responded:
"It is unacceptable that some individuals abuse the social features included in the PlayStation 4 system to share inappropriate content. Our social media partners are experienced in monitoring and disabling users who violate their terms of service, and we are working in full cooperation with them to minimize these instances. Currently, PS4 users can use sub accounts to block access to social media feeds and viewing live broadcasted content on the PS4 system. The default setting of the sub account blocks access to user generated media and also prevents sub account users from broadcasting user generated media. In addition, we will introduce a tool shortly that will allow users to report inappropriate content to us through the PS4 system. We intend to take action, such as banning accounts, against those who are confirmed to be responsible for these types of incidents."
Microsoft never provided a statement, but referred us to its Code of Conduct which prohibits any kind of child pornography or adult related content.


Restricting access on your child's gaming console
*Instructions from the Entertainment Software Rating Board on setting controls for PS4 and Xbox ONE

Sony PlayStation® 4

Finding the "Parental Controls" Options
  1. From the Dynamic Menu, using the left stick or directional pad, go to "Settings," then select "Parental Controls" by pressing the X button. Here there will be options available for managing sub accounts and restricting the use of PS4 features.
  2. Manage the entire use of your PlayStation by choosing "Restrict Use of PS4 Features," or create a sub account for children in your household to manage their online experience by choosing "Sub Account Management."
Choosing "Restrict Use of PS4 Features"
    1. Select "Restrict Use of PS4 Features" by pressing the X button and then select "Application" (games and apps) to apply the appropriate parental control.
    2. The PlayStation 3, 4, Vita, and PSP parental controls are enforced by a four-digit password. The default password is 0000 (four zeros). It is recommended that you reset the password. This can be done from the "Restrict Use of PS4 features" menu. Select "Change Passcode" using the X button, then enter the current password, and you will then be prompted to enter a new passcode. Make sure it is something easy to remember, as you will be prompted to enter this new passcode every time you want to adjust the Parental Controls setting.
    3. A number system indicates the relative level of restriction: the lower the number, the tighter the restrictions. The numbers range from Level 1 through Level 11. They correspond with an ESRB Rating Category, with additional levels in between in some cases. Setting restriction at one of these numbers will prevent games rated above that level from being played on the system. The following numbers correspond to ESRB's age ratings:
2 - EC (Early Childhood)
5 - T (Teen)
3 - E (Everyone) 9 - M (Mature)
4 - E10+ (Everyone 10+) 10 - AO (Adults Only)
  1. To set parental controls for the Web browser, in "Parental Controls," select "Restrict Use of PS4 Features" and then select "Internet Browser." Your options are "Allow" or "Do Not Allow." Selecting "Do Not Allow" will block access to the Internet.
Choosing "Sub Account Management"
  • Using the "Create New Sub Account" feature, you can create a new account or tie an existing user to the Parental Account. By selecting this option, you will be prompted to enter the user's Language and Date of Birth. PS4 will ask to verify your billing information, where you will then be sent an e-mail with final steps for creating a Sub Account on your PC.  
Tips about PlayStation Network:
  • The default settings block content based on registered user age and restrict chat with other players
  • Be sure to set up sub accounts for each child 
For more on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PSP and PlayStation Network, visit: www.us.playstation.com/support.

Microsoft Xbox One®

  1. On Xbox One, manage parental controls by selecting "Settings" and then choosing "Privacy and online safety."
  2. Select a family member to customize their individual settings.
  3. Adjust controls for what your children can see by setting "Content restrictions." These settings use a numerical scale that matches what would be considered appropriate for a certain age based on ESRB game ratings and other content rating systems.
  • For example, if you set your child's content restrictions to '11,' she will be able to play games rated up to E10+ but not T or M.
  • Content restrictions make it easy for parents to choose one setting and control the games, movies, TV and music that are appropriate for their children.
You can also:
  • Choose settings about what your child can do and with whom they can share and communicate on Xbox Live, Microsoft's online service.
  • Enable web filtering to control what can be accessed through Internet Explorer on  Microsoft Xbox One® Xbox One.
  • Give permission for your child to play games or use apps that would ordinarily be restricted based on their settings.
  • Hide restricted content (e.g., downloadable games, trailers and demos) in the Xbox Store.
Tip:
  • With Xbox One, the experience is personalized for each user. Since parental controls are also set for each individual user, it is important that each family member has their own Microsoft Account. You can create and manage your child's account at http://xbox.com.
  • To help protect the settings they have chosen for their families, adults should choose a passkey (a six-digit PIN) and require it to log into the adult account. They should also be sure to sign out of their account when they are not using the console.
For more on Xbox One privacy and online safety settings, visit: http://support.xbox.com.
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