Sony has become the latest of the video-game console makers to announce parental controls in its newest machine, according to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA).Now, all three major console makers are promising parents the means to help restrict their children’s access to violent video games.

Sony will place the controls on its forthcoming machine, PlayStation 3, according to the ESA. Users of PlayStation 2 could limit access, but only to movies, not games. The company wasn’t immediately prepared to comment.

Microsoft had already placed parental controls in its new Xbox 360, which debuted last week. The machine lets users restrict access to video games and DVDs that carry certain ratings, such as “T” for “teen” or “M” for “mature”. It also offers parental controls on the company’s Xbox Live online gaming service, limiting who their children can interact with.

Earlier this month, Nintendo announced similar plans for its next-generation machine, Revolution, due out in 2006.

Sony, which leads the worldwide market with more than 102-million PlayStation and PlayStation 2 consoles sold, also introduced parental control for games in its PlayStation Portable, launched earlier this year.

The video-game industry has been under tougher scrutiny in recent years as lawmakers enacted legislation restricting sales of violent video games to minors. Industry groups have so far successfully challenged the laws in court, citing violations of the First Amendment.

“With the average age of game players now 30, our industry naturally creates content appropriate for a wide range of audiences, just as there are TV shows, films, music and books for people of all tastes, interests and values,” said Doug Lowenstein, president of the ESA.

Lowenstein commended the game console makers for voluntarily applying parental control technology that is not yet found in other media devices, such as DVD or music players

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