Many parents are worried about what their kids do when they’re using the computer. Are they playing too many hours? Do they see inappropriate content when browsing the web? Will they fall for any online scam?
There are ways to prevent your children from these somewhat dangerous situations. The most important one is to sit with your kids when they start using the Internet, and teach them the basics of online behavior and relationships. Another good idea is to have the computer in a common room, so that they’re not alone when using it and you can keep an eye on what they’re doing. But sometimes this is not possible, so you have to rely on software to control the children’s computer usage.
There is a wide variety of apps to block, control and monitor kids’ access to the computer and the web, but if you prefer not to install anything, you can also use Windows Parental Controls settings. Here’s how to configure them:
Windows XP doesn’t have a built-in tool to configure parental filters for a specific account. However, you can still control the web pages your kid visits with Internet Explorer by going to Tools > Internet Options in the web browser, and then clicking the Content tab.
Hit the Enable button and you’ll be able to filter the web content that can be viewed on the computer. Unfortunately, this affects all users.
Windows Vista does feature a built-in Parental Control utility. To use it, go toP Control Panel, click User Accounts and Family Safety and then Parental Controls. Then select the account you want to set filters for – or create one on the spot – and configure the filtering settings.
You can monitor web content with the Windows Vista Web filter, set time limits for computer usage, block access to games or create a list of allowed apps. Vista can also be configured to collect information about computer usage.
The Windows 7 Parental Control tool is almost identical to the one in Vista. You can access it from the same menu in the Control Panel, and works the same way: select a user account and configure it to suit your needs. The only difference is that the filtering options have changed: now there’s no Web filter, as web browsing and computer activity are monitored and recorded with a separate app you download from Microsoft: Windows Live Family Safety.
You can still control the computer’s usage in terms of time and use of apps, just like you do in Windows Vista. If you don’t want to use Microsoft’s software because you don’t need those additional controls, just make sure you select “none” as the provider for those extra settings.