PlayStation 4 Weak Parental Controls Risk Exposing Kids to Adult Content

Nobody's ever used their Atari 2600 to stream episodes of Family Feud or Different Strokes, but fast forward to the present day and game consoles are capable of so much more than just playing modern day variants of Pitfall and Asteroids. The latest generation of game consoles are full-fledged media boxes that run the show in the living room, and that's a good thing. With that increased functionality comes a responsibility to monitor what your kids can stream, and if you own a PlayStation 4, be advised that they can access adult content even with parental controls turned on.

The issue dates back to the PS4's launch in November of last year. At the time, there was concern over the bundling of Playroom, an augmented reality game that comes pre-installed on the PS4. Some users captured adult material with the program -- nudity, obscene language, etc. -- and then distributed it through Sony's PS4 live app, which is intended to let gamers broadcast their gaming sessions using Twitch and Ustream. Twitch stopped listing the racy broadcasts while Sony began "working on the problem," but Ustream still lists them.

PlayStation 4

"One of our staff members recently checked out PS4 Live at home and found streams of everything from sexually suggestive on camera behavior to violent M-rated gameplay streams, with a feed of comments that were also decidedly not kid-friendly," says ConsumerReports.

Turning on parental controls and cranking the dial as far as it will go doesn't help the matter. ConsumerReports tested this and noted that while parental controls successfully blocked access to M-rated games, every single player-generated stream within the Live section remained viewable.

Sony will likely address this at some point, but in the meantime, be advised that parental controls baked into the PS4 won't completely isolate your child from inappropriate material, including nude videos.