Introducing Windows 8: How to Filter the Websites Browsed by Your Child

While you’ll certainly want your children to be able to take advantage of great things the Internet has to offer, you’ll also want to make sure they avoid the seedier sides of the web. One of the best ways to protect your child while online, is to enable web filtering. This allows you to choose which sites your child may or may not view as well as what sort of material is OK for him or her. Luckily, Windows 8 users don’t need to seek out third party software for this feature, it’s built right into Family Safety. Let’s see how it works.

How to Enable Web Filtering for Your Child’s Account in Windows 8

Before you can work with web filtering, you’ll need to enable Family Safety for your child’s account. Please have a look at this article for more information on that: Introducing Windows 8: How to Enable or Disable Family Safety.

Once you have Family Safety enabled, you’ll need to access it from the Control Panel. Navigate to Control Panel -> User Accounts and Family Safety -> Family Safety. Next, select your child’s user account.

On the bottom of the User Settings window, you’ll see a list of Family Safety features you can work with.

Select "Web Filtering" from the list above to begin this procedure. Select "Account Name can only use the websites I allow" to enable the web filtering feature.

You can then "Set web filtering level" or "Allow or block specific websites" to configure custom protection for your child.

Select "Set web filtering level" to select a generic protection level for your child. Your options are:

  • Allow list only - this blocks everything except the sites specifically selected by you as allowed. Click or tap "Click here to change Allow List" to select your chosen sites. Sites added to this list are automatically allowed regardless of which protection level you choose below.
  • Designed for children - This level only allows sites designed for children.
  • General Interest - This selection allows all sites allowed in the previous level as well as sites labeled as being of general interest.
  • Online Communication - This level allows all sites from previous levels as well as sites categorized as social networks, web chat and webmail. If you choose to allow this level, make sure your child understands what personal information is safe to share online.
  • Warn on Adult - This settings allows everything, but warns your child if the site may contain adult materials.

You can also choose to select "Block file downloads" to prevent your child from downloading anything. This is helpful to prevent viruses and spyware as children rarely understand what is safe to download and what should be avoided.

Enabling web restrictions also activates SafeSearch on all major online search engines and blocks adult images from returning on image searches.

Click or tap the back arrow to return to the previous screen.

Select "Allow or block specific websites" to create a block and allow list. Alternatively, you can click or tap "Click here to change Allow List" from the filter level screen shown above. This list, once configured, supersedes the protection levels chosen on the previous step. This is useful as you can choose to allow your child access to all sites designed for children, then add a few general interest sites like Wikipedia that can help with homework.

To create the lists, enter a URL in the box provided and click "Allow" or "Block" to add it to one list or the other.

To remove a site from a list, select it and click or tap "Remove" from the bottom-right corner of the page.

How Windows 8 Web Filtering Affects your Child’s Computing Experience

If your child never tries to view web pages he/she isn’t allowed to see, he/she will never even notice you put a filter in place. If he/she tries to visit a page with content marked as inappropriate by your filtering selections, he or she will receive a warning.

The inappropriate content will also be blocked from view and your child will be alerted that a web filter has blocked it for his/her safety.


From here your child can ask your permission to view the content, or click or tap the link provided to view links to other sites more appropriate for his/her age group.

How Your Child can Request Permission to View Blocked Sites

If you child stumbles upon a site blocked by your web filter that they legitimately need or that is not actually inappropriate, they can request your permission to add it to your allowed list.

To request your permission, he/she can click or tap the "Ask for permission" button on the blocked website message. Then he/she will be able to ask you in person or send you a request to the Family Safety website if you aren’t.

If you are present, your child should click or tap "My parent is here."

After you hear your child’s request, you can enter your account password and then select "Allow" to add the site past your filter, or you can click or tap "Cancel" to continue blocking the site.

If you aren’t at home, your child should click or tap "Send a request."

This request will be sent to the Family Safety website for your review.

How to Review your Child’s Requests in Windows 8

In order to view and respond to requests from your children to view blocked websites, you’ll need to visit the Family Safety website. The easiest way to get there is to click the link on the Family Safety page in your Control Panel. You can also browse to the Family Safety website and enter your Microsoft account credentials to log in.

When you’ve accessed the page, you’ll see any active requests next to your child’s account name. Click or tap an active request to view its details.

You can follow the link to the requested site to check it out for yourself. Once you know whether or not it is safe for your child, you can select a response. You can choose one of the following:

  • Allow for this account only
  • Allow for all accounts
  • Block for this account only
  • Block for all accounts

Click or tap "Save" once your decision is made to finalize it and make any changes if necessary.

The new settings will be applied the next time your child logs in to their account.

Conclusion

As you can see, enabling web filtering in Windows 8 couldn’t be easier. You can make quick work of it by enabling a filtering level appropriate to your child’s age, or you can really crack down by only using the allow list guaranteeing your child can only see what you approve. This is a very powerful feature that will give you peace of mind while your child browses the Internet.

Have you tried web filters for your children? How does Windows 8’s stack up to the third-party competition? We’d love to hear your opinions in the comments below.