All You Need to Know About Parental Controls in Windows 7
After showing you how to create or delete user accounts, and also how to edit a user account in Windows 7, we focused our attention towards those of you who also have the tough job of being a parent. With this article we are going to make a short summary of our parental controls series, which covered to tools you need to use in order to have control over the computing activities of your children.
We started our Parental Controls series with an article on setting up the Parental Controls feature in Windows 7. This tool allows you to manage the hours between which your children are granted use of the computer. These time limits can be set up for each day of the week, with a different hour-schedule for each day. Based on a Game Rating System of your choosing and by the type of content, you can select which games you consider appropriate for your children to play. You can also block specific games and decide whether your son or daughter are allowed to play games that are not rated. Apart from games, you can also block specific programs installed on your computer so that they use only the applications you consider to be child-friendly.
Another application from Windows 7 that offers parental controls is Windows Media Center. In one of our tutorials we showed how to setup parental controls in Windows Media Center, so that your children view only approved video content. In order to set it up, you are first asked to define a four-digits access code for both accessing the content that you have blocked and entering the Windows Media Centre parental controls menu. When watching TV using Windows Media Centre, your children can stumble upon inappropriate TV shows. TV ratings give the viewers the idea of the suitability of a specific program for different ages. You can set up the desired maximum rating allowed but also you can set specific ratings for different types of content, like violence, offensive language and others. Apart from TV ratings you can also set the maximum allowed movie/DVD ratings.
One of the great things about Windows 7, is the fact that it allows you to integrate parental controls functions from other software companies. One of these tools is Microsoft's Windows Live Family Safety, which you can download and install from the Windows Live website. In our article on enhancing parental controls with Windows Live Family Safety we showed how to enable this tool, how to connect your Windows Live ID to the Family Safety Filters, choose the user accounts that will be monitored and also how to manage your family members on the family safety website. We also showed you how simple it is to add another parent or to remove a family member from the list of accounts monitored.
The following articles were an in-depth presentation of the features that Windows Live Family Safety has to offer. We began with web filtering with Windows Live Family Safety and described how you can set up the kind of web pages that you allow your children to visit. You can choose one of three levels of filtering: Strong, Basic or Custom, but you can also add specific websites to be blocked or allowed. If your child tries to access a website that is restricted, he will get a message saying that the page is blocked and he is offered the option to send a request to the parent requesting access.
The next feature of Windows Live Family Safety that we approached is how to get activity reports for your children. Windows Live Family Safety records and reports all the activity that your children had both online and offline: you can see how many times they have logged on and how many hours in total they have spent on the computer, what websites they have visited, what they have downloaded and what programs they have accessed.
In the last article from our series we covered two topics: managing your child's contacts list and approval requests. Managing your child's contacts it's one of the very useful features of Windows Live Family Safety, if your child uses Windows Live Hotmail, Windows Live Messenger and Windows Live Spaces. With this tool, you can see the entire list of contacts he/she gets in touch with and add or remove the people you don't want to be in contact with your child. Also, your child can make requests for adding a new contact or being allowed to access one of the restricted websites. Windows Live Family Safety lets you manage those requests, making the choice that you think is best for your child's safety online.
With this article I made an overview of everything that we have covered in our Parental Controls series: from managing the time schedule when your child is allowed to use the computer, to TV programs and movies that he/she can watch or handling the websites that your child visits and contacts that he/she talks to. We hope that through this series we have managed to make your job as a parent a bit easier. If you have any comments or question on this topic, don't hesitate to leave a comment, we will do our best to answer them. Also, if there is anything else you would like us to cover on this subject, let us know.