Windows Media Center offers a series of basic parental controls. You can define an access code for restricted content and parental controls menus, with which you can block TV programs and movies that exceed a maximum rating that you can set, protecting your children of inappropriate content. In this tutorial I will show you how to do all of these, starting with where to find Windows Media Center and sharing everything you need to know about how to filter the content viewed by your children.
Where to Find Parental Controls in Windows Media Center
There are two ways of finding Windows Media Center: the first one is to type Windows Media Center in the Start Menu search bar.
The second way is by going to Start Menu -> All programs -> Windows Media Center.
In Windows Media Center, scroll down to Tasks and click on Settings.
From the Settings menu, select General.
Now click on Parental Controls.
This is the place from where all the settings presented in this tutorial are made.
How to Create or Modify a Change Access Code
After you have chosen Parental Controls, you have to create a 4-digits access code. When you, or anyone else who uses the computer, want to view one of the programs that you have blocked, you will be prompted for this access code. Without knowing this code, your children will not be able to see the content which is blocked.
Each time you will access the Parental Controls menu in Windows Media Center, you will be prompted for this code to be granted access.
To modify the access code, in the Parental Controls menu, click 'Change Access Code'.
Changing the access code requires you to enter a new 4-digits code and then confirm it. You cannot enter an empty code, nor other characters except digits.
If you have successfully changed your access code, an appropriate message will be displayed.
Click on OK and you are done.
How to Set TV Ratings
TV ratings give the viewers an idea on the suitability of television programs for different ages. Programs are rated by either the organization that manages the system, the broadcaster or by the content producers themselves. A rating is usually set for each individual episode of a television series. The rating can change per episode, network, rerun and per country. To configure the allowed ratings, follow these steps:
Choose TV Ratings option from the Parental Controls menu.
Check the first box, to turn on TV blocking and the second, if you want to block unrated TV programs.
To select the desired maximum allowed rating, click the '-' and '+' buttons in the right side of the current TV rating.
Windows 7 allows you to set the ratings that you want for different types of content. Click the Advance button to make these selections.
If you have made any changes but didn't saved them yet, after clicking the Advance button, you are asked whether you want to save them or not.
Choose specific ratings for each type of content by clicking the '-' and '+' buttons. You can choose from several ratings like TV-PG (television - parental guidance), TV-MA (television - mature audience) and others. More information on TV ratings in different countries you can find on Wikipedia's Television Content Rating System page.
Don't forget to navigate through all the types of content offered, by using the up and down arrows, located under the content list.
When you have finished, press the Save button.
How to Set Movie/DVD Ratings
Movie Ratings are based on issues like sex, violence, substance abuse, profanity, impudence or other types of mature content. Filtering what movies your children are allowed to see is very easy. First, click on the second option in the Parental Controls.
Turn on movie blocking by checking the appropriate box and also decide if you want to block or not unrated movies. You can choose your maximum allowed movie rating by clicking the '-' and '+' buttons, from several ratings like NC-17 (not intended for under 17) and others. Each rating is shortly explained in a few words but you can find more on Wikipedia's Motion Picture Rating System page. Don't forget to save when you have finished.
How to Reset Parental Controls
If you want to reset all the changes that you have made by now, select 'Reset Parental Controls'.
If you are sure that you want to remove the access code and reset the rating limits that you have previously setup, turning off TV and movie/DVD blocking, click the Yes button on the message box.
Because of the large variety of content that kids have access nowadays, I recommend that you setup parental controls for TV and movies also. As I have showed in this tutorial, Windows Media Center offers easy solutions to managing ratings for specific content and blocking TV shows and movies that might be suitable for your children. For any issues and questions on this topic, don't hesitate to leave a comment.
Also, if you have some additional tips, they are very welcome.