Setting Parental Controls in TiVo - dummies

Setting Parental Controls in TiVo

When television entered the house in the late 1940s, networks wouldn’t consider running a show unless it was appropriate for the entire family. In today’s world of cable and satellite programming, that’s no longer true.

TiVo provides several ways to control your TV’s content, from blocking out individual channels to filtering individual shows based on their content. TiVo can even require a password to watch any channel, keeping the kids at bay until they’ve finished their last math problem.

To turn on TiVo’s Parental Controls, follow these steps:

1. From TiVo Central, choose TiVo Messages & Setup.

Call up TiVo Central any time by pressing the TiVo button.

2. Choose Settings.

3. Choose Preferences and then Parental Controls.

TiVo’s Parental Controls menu appears.

4. Select Turn on Parental Controls.

TiVo asks you to punch in a four-digit password and then immediately asks you to punch it in again, just to make sure you’ve typed it in correctly. You now need to enter that password to watch blocked channels.

5. Adjust the Parental Control Ratings Settings, if you want.

To simply block individual channels, jump ahead to Step 6; you don’t need this step.

This area lets you block shows based solely on their audience maturity level, regardless of their channel. Many shows include a voluntary ratings system in their show description. Table 1 explains the rating system and how it sorts shows based on appropriate audience, type of content, and (for movies) their theatrical rating.

TiVo reads each show’s rating and chooses whether to block it based on the settings that you choose here:

• TV Rating Limit: This option lets you block TV programs based on their maturity level. Each press of the Up Arrow blocks more types of content, eventually blocking all shows. Each press of the Down Arrow reduces the number of blocked shows, eventually allowing all shows.

• The maturity ratings for TV, which you can see in Table 1, are voluntary, and they cover only content created expressly for television.

• Movie Rating Limit: Designed for theatrical releases, this option blocks movies by their theatrical ratings: G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17, and AO (adults only).

• Block by TV Content: TiVo can also filter shows by their type of content: Suggestive Dialogue, Language, Sexual Content, Violence, and Fantasy Violence. TiVo lets you mix and match from any or all of these categories, using the same six ranges found in the TV Rating Limit.

6. Lock out specific channels, if you want.

The “Turn on any Channel Locks” option lets you block any or all channels, regardless of their content.

7. Turn off Auto Relock, if you want.

After entering your password and watching a blocked show, will you remember to turn it back on at the show’s end? TiVo’s Auto Relock helps forgetful parents by automatically reinstating Parental Controls after nobody’s touched the remote for four hours.

8. Change Password, if you want.

If the kids figure out the password, head here to change it.

To turn off Parental Controls and watch a blocked show, enter your password when TiVo asks. (TiVo’s Auto Relock, if you haven’t turned it off in Step 7, turns the lock back on for you four hours after you put down the remote.)

Table 1: The FCC’s TV rating system




All Children — This program is designed to be appropriate for all children. Whether animated or live-action, the themes and elements in this program are specifically designed for a very young audience, including children from ages 2 to 6.


Older Children — This program is designed for children age 7 and above. Themes and elements in this program may include mild fantasy or comedic violence or may frighten children under the age of 7. You can find programs where fantasy violence may be more intense or more combative than other programs in this category designated TV-Y7-FV.


General Audience — Most parents find this program suitable for all ages. Although this rating doesn’t signify a program designed specifically for children, most parents may let younger children watch this program unattended. It contains little or no violence, no strong language, and little or no sexual dialogue or situations.


Parental Guidance Suggested — This program contains material that parents may find unsuitable for younger children. Many parents may want to watch it with their younger children. The theme itself may call for parental guidance and/or the program may contain one or more of the following: moderate violence (V), some sexual situations (S), infrequent coarse language (L), or some suggestive dialogue (D).


Parents Strongly Cautioned — This program contains some material that many parents find unsuitable for children under 14 years of age. Parents are strongly urged to exercise greater care in monitoring this program. This program contains one or more of the following: intense violence (V), intense sexual situations (S), strong coarse language (L), or intensely suggestive dialogue (D).


Mature Audience Only — This program is specifically designed to be viewed by adults and may be unsuitable for children under 17. This program contains one or more of the following: graphic violence (V), explicit sexual activity (S), or crude, indecent language (L).

If you stumble across a channel that you’d like to block, press Info to bring up the large Channel Banner. Press the Down Arrow to highlight the Parental Controls setting. Finally, press Select to jump quickly to the Parental Controls and add the channel to your “blocked” list.

Curious about a show’s maturity rating? Select the show from the Now Playing list and press Enter when the show’s description appears. The show’s rating appears near the top of the list.

A little “locked” icon next to menus and show descriptions means TiVo’s Parental Controls are turned on. An “unlocked” icon means they’re turned off.