Do your kids play desktop games using Steam? It’s one of the most popular gaming platforms around delivering a wide range of top games direct to the desktop as well as providing a forum for discussion of those games, a trading platform for in-game items and much more.
Whilst each individual game comes with a separate age rating and Steam does ask users to verify their age before downloading games rated 18 or mature, this obviously wouldn’t be enough of a restriction to satisfy the concerned parent and Steam knows it. Furthermore, they realise that forums often also offer content too explicit for children and that the option for children to spend money is one which many parents would not allow. That’s why they’ve got their ‘Family View’ option.
Steam’s ‘Family View’ option actually seems like one of the more robust in-house parental controls we’ve come across. It allows you to limit an account so that it can only access the games that you preselect, it also lets you block the Steam store, forum access and a couple of other features. If your child tries to access anything outside the parameters of family view, they are presented with a PIN entry field to gain access.
Setting up family view
It’s easy to set up the family view:
- In the account you want to place restrictions on, go to the ‘Family’ sub-section of the main Steam settings
- Select ‘Manage Family View’ and then choose the things that you want your child to be able to access in accordance with the on screen wizard
- Select, confirm and remember a PIN code that your children don’t know
- If you chose to to allow ‘Only games I choose’ the account’s library will now have a new section called ‘Family Games’. Initially this will have any games you chose during the setup process in it. If you want to add more games there you’ll need to go to your regular library (click on the Family View icon and enter your PIN first to exit family view), right click on the game you want to add and select add to family view.
Check Steam’s own detailed instructions here.
Overall I’ve been very impressed with Steam’s parental controls. Unlike most of the other options we’ve reviewed here so far I’ve not found any easy ways round their restrictions. Of course they could still add more functionality (eg. along the lines of Kidslox they could create scheduled times when games are completely off limits), but I can see that that’s unlikely to be a priority of theirs and may even go against their business interests. As their existing functionality stands though it’s a reliable option that gives parents some confidence in allowing their kids to play games via Steam without running into inappropriate content.