Introducing Windows 8: How to Restrict Games & Apps for Your Child

We're continuing the series about Family Safety in Windows 8 by showing you how to further its protection by regulating what applications and games children can interact with. Family Safety makes it simple to block any program based on its intended age demographic or title. Take a few minutes to read through and you'll be able to guarantee your kids can't get into anything that they shouldn't.

How to Enable Restrictions for Apps and Games in Windows 8

Before you can get started filtering programs you'll need to enable Family Safety on your child's account. Take a look here for more information on that procedure: Introducing Windows 8: How to Enable or Disable Family Safety.

Once you have Family Safety set up, head over to Control Panel -> User Accounts and Family Safety -> User Accounts. Select "Windows store and game restrictions" to configure what games and Windows Store apps your child can interact with.

Select "AccountName can only use games and Windows Store apps I allow" to enable this feature.

From here you can block games and apps by their rating or by their specific title.

Select "Set game and Windows Store ratings" to block games and apps based on their ratings.

First, choose whether or not to block games and apps with no ratings. Some games aren't officially rated and you have no way of knowing what they contain. We recommend blocking such unrated titles.

In the bottom of the window you can select the maximum rating your child is allowed to use. All lower ratings are automatically allowed as well.

If you would rather set permissions specifically for each title rather than going by their rating, click or tap the Back arrow to return to the previous screen. Then, select "Allow or block a specific game."

For each game installed on the computer you can select one of the following:

  • User rating setting - This allows or blocks the title based on your rating selection described above.
  • Always allow - This allows the title regardless of whether or not its rating is within your selected range.
  • Always block - The blocks the title from your child's account whether or not its rating is within your selected range.

How to Enable Restrictions for Applications with Windows 8 Family Safety

Return to the Family Safety section of the Control Panel and Select "App restrictions" from the list of Family Safety features to control what applications your child can interact with. This section allows you to block each program, whether it be a Windows 8 app or desktop application, based on its name.

Select "AccountName can only use the apps I allow" to enable the feature. By default your child can only use applications associated with the operating system.

To allow additional programs, click or tap the checkbox next to each title on the list. You can also click or tap "Check all" or "Uncheck all" to save time.

All programs installed on your computer should be listed, but if you find one that is missing, click or tap "Browse" and use the File Explorer to locate the application's executable file.

Click or tap "Open" to add it to the list and allow it.

If you find that an allowed app isn't running properly in your child's account, you may have to enable more than one executable file for it. There are a number of applications that have multiple parts running separately, each of which will have a seperate.exe file. You'll need to enable each.exe file associated with the problem app to ensure it is able to run in its entirety.

How Restrictions are Applied to your Child's Account

Once you have restrictions enabled, your child won't be able to open any apps ruled out by your filters. If they try, they'll be met by the following message:

If they really want to use the app, they can click or tap the message to ask your permission. If you're around, you can choose to allow the app by entering your account password and it will be added to your allow list. If you aren't there to field the request in real time, your child can send you a request that you can reply to from the Family Safety website.

Your app restrictions also prevent your child from installing any apps from the Windows Store that they aren't allowed to use. In fact, any apps that are filtered won't even appear in their Store view.

They won't even know what they aren't allowed to use.


Now that you've got app restrictions enabled, you can be sure that your child is only using age appropriate content. They can't even install new apps that aren't appropriate for their age group. You can sit back and relax while your child enjoys their computer gaming content that you'd approve of whatever they're doing.

For more information regarding Family Safety, take a look at the other tutorials in the series. They are shared below.