How to set up parental controls on a Windows 7 computer
Parental controls are a vital function when children are using computers on a more frequent basis. Luckily Windows is on hand to offer controls that parents can use to keep their children safe. These controls offer features such as time restrictions, program use and, if Windows Media Player is the system default for media content, age restrictions. How to setup all this techno wizardry, I hear you ask? Below is a step-by-step guide with explanations on what each features does and why it is beneficial.
Parental controls setup on Windows 7 computers
- To begin press the start icon, and type 'parental' into the search bar. A few options will appear, the one we are interested in at the moment is 'set up parental controls for any user'
- The screen that appears should display a selection of the user accounts on the system, select the account that you wish to apply the controls to, note that an administrator password will be required to enforce these settings, and that an admin account cannot have parental control restrictions placed upon it
- It is a good idea to set up accounts for each of the individuals that you want to use the computer and have them set as 'standard user' in order to apply the parental controls. For the purposes of this article the account we will use will be called 'Bob'. The next window to be displayed will state 'set up how Bob will use this computer'. Tick the box that states 'On, enforce current settings' and you will be presented with the following options:
- Time limits - will show a grid with days and hours asking what times you want blocked and what times you want access. This feature is useful in limiting the amount of time you want your children spending on the computer
- Games - asks what games you want the user accessing if any, allowing an age restriction to be put into place on any games that you deem inappropriate
- Allow and block specific programs - lets you control which programs can be used and which ones are denied. This allows access to vital programs that a user may require and limits access to programs that are not necessary
These options allow an admin account to have an amount of flexibility in allowing access levels to an account. These controls are directly linked to a user account and will only work if the targeted user is using that account to access the computer.
Activating Windows Media Centre parental controls
Windows Media Centre, built into the Windows Operating System, offers further parental control options, primarily over what content can be viewed by specific users.The following is a step-by-step guide to activating this feature:
- Press the start button, and in the search bar type 'Windows Media Center'
- Launch the program from the start menu
- Navigate to the 'Tasks' menu and select the settings option, in the screen that appears select the 'General' option and then 'Parental Controls'. This will allow you to set up a four digit pin number for any age restricted content that the Media Center tries to access
Windows Live Family Safety - online security options
Windows 7 does not come pre-packaged with many online safety tools, the best option is to go to Microsoft's website and download 'Windows Live Family Safety', it is a part of the Windows Live Essentials package.
This software needs to be installed on every computer that requires parental controls. As well as offering similar features that Windows account management offers, this software allows control over what websites can be accessed, as well as active monitoring and production of activity reports that can be viewed online.
These links may also be helpful:
One of the most important features is the 'Family Safety Filter', this monitors your children using the settings that you have set up and provides an activity report that can be viewed online via the link above. This ensures that the internet is being used correctly and as intended. It is important to note that a parent or guardian will need to sign into their Windows Live ID and identify their account as the primary user in order to use these controls.
Combined with Windows Parental tools this is a robust system, and you can use the advice in our handy How to keep your kids safe online article to ensure that your children are aware of how to stay safe online.
If possible, try to have the primary family computer in a public part of the house, for instance the lounge or dining room, so that it can be more readily monitored. Although software should not be the only measure put into place to help keep children safe online, basic measures such as having their computers in a social area and teaching the correct way to interact with people online should be taught as basic safety when using the web.