Do you remember a day when all children wanted to do was get outside and play in the sun? Unfortunately, kids these days are more likely to spend every waking hour perched in front of a computer screen playing games. If you aren’t a fan of this trend and you want to limit your child’s computer use to reasonable hours and time limits, Windows 8 has the tools to help you. Using Family Safety, you can monitor your child’s computer use and prevent him/her from logging in after hours or spending too much time in front of the screen.
How to Enable Time Limits for your Child in Windows 8
Before you can enable time limits for your child’s account, you’ll need to enable Family Safety. If you aren’t sure how to accomplish this, you can read this article for more information: Introducing Windows 8: How to Enable or Disable Family Safety.
Once you’ve got that done, you can enable time limits from the Family Safety window, in Control Panel. You can find it by navigating to Control Panel -> User Accounts and Family Safety -> Family Safety. Select your child’s account name to view a list of Family Safety features.
Select Time limits from the list of features to get started. The Time limits window opens, displaying the kind of time limits you can set.
You can configure the total number of hours your child can use the computer as well as what time of day he/she can use it.
How to Enable a Time Allowance in Windows 8’s Family Safety
Select "Set time allowance" to choose how many hours per day your child can use the computer. Start by selecting "AccountName can only use the PC for the amount of time I allow." This enables you to interact with the lower portion of the window.
You can choose to provide specific allowances for each individual day by selecting times for each individual day, or you can choose to configure a generic allowance for weekdays and weekend days by only selecting times on the "Weekdays: Mon-Fri" and "Weekend: Sat-Sun" blocks.
Use the drop-down lists to select your desired time limits. Once finished, just hit the back arrow at the top of the screen to back out. Your changes are saved automatically.
Warnings and Notifications Received by Your Child
As your child uses the computer, Windows 8 will warn them when they get within 15 minutes of their allotted time. He or she will receive a message stating that "Family Safety will lock you out of the PC soon."
At this point they can either enjoy their last 15 minutes, or they can ask you for more time. If you’re around to take the request, your child can click or tap "Get more time." You’ll have to enter your administrator password to grant the request.
Once your password is accepted, you can choose to add more time. Select a time option from the drop-down list and click or tap "Allow."
Their time will be extended for the allotted time, but this will not change the daily limits you set. It’s a temporary reprieve. Once their time runs out Windows 8 locks the computer once again.
They can ask you for another extension or select "Switch users or turn off PC" to switch to the account selection screen.
How to Enable a Curfew in Windows 8’s Family Safety
Setting a curfew means setting those hours when your child is not allowed to use the computer.
Return to the Time Limits window and click or tap "Set curfew" to configure the times of the day your child is allowed to use the computer.
Select "AccountName can only use the PC during the time ranges I allow" to get started. Click and drag or tap and drag to select ranges of time on the grid at the bottom of the window.
You can also click or tap to select 30 minute blocks (half of a square) one at a time. The blue regions are selected regions. Your child will not be allowed to use the computer during those time periods. Leave allowed time frames unselected.
If your child attempts to use the computer past their curfew they’ll get a message much like the one for overusing their time limit: "You’ve used all your allowed PC time for today."
Just like before, they have the option to ask you for more time to head to the account selection screen.
That’s all there is to it. In just a few minutes you can set up Windows 8 to police your children and keep them from overusing their Windows 8 computer or tablet. Even if you aren’t there in person to enforce your rules, you can be sure they’ll be followed.
How much time is too much for children to use the computer? At what age do you think it’s appropriate to let them learn basic skills? We’d love to hear your opinions below.