TV Parental Control

remote and TVLet’s face it, there are some things on TV that children are better off not watching. There are many parents that would like to censor what their kids watch on television, but are left wondering what options they have. There are many electronic devices and parental controls that can help parents control what channels and content their children watch.

First, let’s start with the V-Chip. The V-Chip understands television program ratings and blocks programs based upon the rating level selected. All TV sets that are 13 inches or larger are required to incorporate the V-Chip technology. Parents set rating levels so that certain TV shows need a password to be viewed. For more information on the V-Chip and program ratings visit the FCC V-Chip site.

Several cable and satellite companies offer parental control options. They allow specific channels to be blocked so that they cannot be viewed. For example you can block the MTV channel so that when you are flipping through the channels you will not even get the option to watch. These companies also offer the ability to block shows based on language, violence, nudity, and rating levels. This offers more flexibility than the V-Chip. For example, you could block all TV-MA (Mature Audience Only — may be unsuitable for children under 17) programming and block all television shows that have strong language. Please visit the following sites for more information on parental control technology.

Dish Network TV Parental Control Information Page for the Dish Network.
Direct TV TV Parental Control Information Page for Direct TV.

The TV-Guardian is another electronic device to help with parental control. This device automatically detects bad language and mutes TV sound so that you do not hear the offensive words. The technology works by reading the closed caption transcripts and monitors the dialogue against a list of “bad words.” It is not perfect in the fact that it sometimes mutes the sound longer than just the offensive word. It also will occasionally miss an offensive word because the transcript is not synchronized with the sound. With that said, it is still highly accurate and an excellent resource for parents wanting to watch television with their kids without offensive language.

Clearplay is another exciting new technology that offers parental control options for watching DVDs. Clearplay offers the ability to selectively fast forward the movie during violence and nudity scenes. It also will mute the sound during offensive language. This technology is very precise because Clearplay has editors pre-screen each movie and create timestamps for specific scenes during the movie. Depending on what you as a parent select to filter out will determine which part of the movie gets “skipped.” The cool thing about Clearplay is it does not alter the DVD, so you can go rent a rated R movie from the video store, watch a toned down PG version, and return the unaltered DVD back to the store.

There are several options for TV parental control. If you find yourself frustrated with TV and movie content try some of the above options. I myself use them and find them a valuable tool in parenting. It only takes a few minutes to learn how to use some of these parental control devices. It is time well spent.


25 Responses to TV Parental Control

  1. andrew lowry says:

    I have a big problem with my son which has austism he likes to turn the tv sound all the way up and just watch dvds and no tv. I would like to be able to lock out the sound at preset level. He also is in control of the remote at aLL times. He has a 21″ Sansusi tv and already contacted the company with no success. I am willing to buy a new tv to help me get a decent night sleep. Help

  2. Billy Bryson says:

    I have a phillips magnavox tv that I need to reset the password. I don’t remember the old password. Please help me with this problem

  3. Marie says:

    I haven’t had cable since 1992, so that hasn’t been an issue. I’m glad to know I will be able to block out programs should I ever choose to get it. However, what I would like is for my kids to not be able to turn the TV on at all during certain hours. For example, as when they get home from school before I get home from work. Any way to “lock” a TV?

    • Jason says:

      Yes. I know DirecTV has the ability to set viewing hours. Also several televisions have the same option to set viewing hours. For DirecTV go to menu, setup, parental controls, viewing hours. You will need to set a password and you can select specific viewing hours. For most newer televisions just go to menu, parental controls and look for viewing hours or something similar.

  4. Mimi says:

    I bought a Vizio Television recently. I have setup the parental controls, but my stepson likes to sneak in the middle of the night to watch TV. How can I prevent that from happening? Is there a timer? I noticed the TV has a sleep option, but I don’t think that will work.

    • Jason says:

      You are correct that the sleep function will not prevent your stepson from watching TV in the middle of the night. The sleep function activates a timer so the TV will turn off after a set time period. There are a couple of time management options that you can use from

  5. Nancy says:

    We recently purchased an Apex TV from a friend and it has a parental lock enabled, and she has no idea how to take it off. Do you know how to remove a parental lock if you dont know the password?

    • Jason says:

      I get this question a lot. I do not know how to remove the TV parental lock without knowing the password. I believe you will have to call the television manufacturer. They will have a way to bypass the password.

  6. Liz says:

    I am a new customer with Dish Network and want to use parental controls on my TV. I noticed on the Dish Network website that they have a phone number to call if the password is lost. As a parent of older children, my concern is that one of them might call that number to obtain the password. Do you know how easy it is to obtain a “lost” password?

    • Jason says:

      I get a lot of questions about this. I believe that only the name that is on the billing statement can reset the parental password. So you children would have to get the customer service rep to believe that it is you. This would take some “smooth” talking. regardless, you will know quickly as your password would now be different.

  7. Ben says:

    I have a Direct TV receiver, and I put on a parental lock for myself (I’m 24, not a kid) but put it on so I don’t accidentally see things I find personally offensive. Unfortunately I forgot my password. DOH! Now I need to know if there is a way to reset the password, preferably WITHOUT having to call DirecTV themselves.

    • Jason says:

      You need the original code to unlock the parental control settings. The only way around this is to call DirecTV customer support.

  8. Tony says:

    Is there a system that we can use with the Dish Network to block shows that we choose to block? For example can I program the Dish to block “Two and a Half Men” or “The Simpsons” ?

    • Jason says:

      Good question. However, the answer is no. Dish allows you to block programs based off ratings or channels, but not specific shows. The only option you have is to determine the rating of a specific show and then block that rating or to block the channel of the specific show.

  9. Josh says:

    We have Dish and we blocked nudity, but Dish’s own ratings are sometimes not accurate and allow shows to come on that have nudity even though the movie itself declares it has “N” (nudity). I am dusgusted that things I do not want my family to see are appearing. Is Dish liable for this mistake?

    • Jason says:

      First off, I have Dish and have set the parental controls to also block nudity. I have not seen it make the mistake you are discribing. With that said, nudity is subjective and open. What may be categorized by some as nudity may not be for others. I would not think the Dish is liable for anything. If you have a dual tuner receiver, you must set both TVs to block nudity. If you only set up one, the other will not block any shows based off the parental controls.

  10. Gino says:

    Why should violence on TV only be shown after 10:00p.m.?

    • Jason says:

      Violence is shown on TV 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Stations such as NBC, CBS, ABC, and FOX are regulated by the FCC and therefore have to adhere to specific rules on violence, langauge, and nudity. However, I know of no rule that allows specific “violent” shows after a certain time.

  11. Scott says:

    I use the TV Guardian until I purchased a flat screen plasma TV and was heart broken that the Guardian wouldn’t work on it. Why is it so hard for the makers of TV guardian to make a device that will work on HD TV? Was there not enough demand for a newer version? We don’t watch many DVD’s and screen them anyways, so TV is what I need a “guardian” for anyways. I subscribe to the Dish Network, what are my options?

    • Jason says:

      The only option is to use the parental controls setup by the Dish Network. Instead of blocking specific swear words in real time, the receiver will block the entire show. Depending on what level you set the parental lock at will determine whether or not someone will be able to watch the show (without the master password).

  12. Elizabeth says:

    Is it possible to lock a tv so that NO television can be watched without a parent “unlocking” the tv?

    • Jason says:

      Not that I am aware of, as most televisions have a process in the instruction manual to reset the lock without a password.

  13. Tim says:

    I have one of your TVBlanket devices. Are these devices still available? Is there anyway to get the old device to work on HDTV? If not, is there a device that will accomplish the same features (sound mute and screen blank) for HDTV?

    • Jason says:

      The TVBlanket device is no longer available. The old device will only work on standard television. It will not work on HDTV. I would recommend buying an HD DVR which allows you to fast forward through any commercial or TV show. This is the main reason I stopped selling the blanking devices.

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