Using Parental Controls to manage your child’s computer use

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A topic which is high on most parents’ agenda is the way in which we can manage our children’s computer use. Personally, my 6 year old daughter has become quite computer savvy, and not through my own teachings but through her use of computers at school. More and more our children are using technology on a regular basis, whether it is for fun or part of their schooling. There are many ways in which we can manage and protect our children from online threats but many parents do not realise you can also manage what access children have to programs and content which might be found on our own computer.

Microsoft Windows 7 and above gives you the ability to control a users’ access to the local computer programs and even specify time limits on usage. You can limit access to games based on the games rating and even specific programs you do not want a user to be able to access, this could include the internet browser, should you wish to block access to the internet, or even iTunes if you are finding your child is browsing the latest release music instead of completing homework. The choice is yours and can easily be changed as your needs change.

I’m sure many parents with school aged children have sometimes found the need to restrict use of a particular program or even the entire computer. Parental Controls allows you to do this easily.

The Parent Control features allow you to easily:

  • Set time limits on a specific user and,
  • Control which programs and games they are able to access

Parental Control works by having each of your children setup with their own account on the computer in which they will use to login. You can have your child also assign their own password to their account if they prefer. Your login account on the computer must be setup as the Administrator on the computer and its best that you set a password that your children do not know and will not guess. The first thing any teenager will do once they realise you have limited their account is try and login under your account to get around it!

Another bonus of having each child login with their own account is that they will have their own Documents, Music etc folders to store content in which will leave your content safe from accidental deletion. Any content you wish to share amongst all users can be saved into the Public folders for access by all users.

To configure Parental Controls, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Start button and select the Control Panel
  2. If the Control Panel is displayed in Category view you will see the options displayed under different categories. Click the link to Set up parental controls for any user under the User Accounts and Family Safety category

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  1. If the Control Panel is displayed in Large or Small icon view then double click the Parental Controls icon

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  1. The Parental Controls window will be displayed

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  1. To setup a new account for your child, click the link to Create a new user account
  2. You will now be able to enter the name of the new user

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  1. Type your child’s name and if you prefer your child to login with a password, tick the box for User must set password at next logon
  2. Click Create account
  3. You will now see the new user account appear in the Parental Controls window

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  1. Repeat the process if you have more than one child to setup
  2. To apply controls for a particular user, click the user from the Users lists
  3. The User Controls will now appear

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  1. To enable Parental Controls, select On, enforce current settings
  2. The Windows Settings will now be available for you to configure
  3. Click the link for Time limits
  4. You will now see a grid showing hours of the day. Any time period which is displayed in white is an allowed period, so all hours of the day are allowed by default
  5. To limit your child’s use of the computer, click and drag the mouse with the left mouse button to block specific hours, e.g. block from midnight till 7:00am and from 9:00pm till midnight

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  1. Click OK
  2. To control game usage, click the link for Games
  3. If you do not want your child to access any games (e.g. such as if this were part of a punishment), change the Can *child* play games? to No
  4. If you just wish to block or allow games based on their rating, click the link for Set game rating
  5. You can choose G, PG, M and MA15+ rating options. You also have an option to specify that any game which is not rated is automatically allowed or blocked.
  6. Make your selection and click OK
  7. If you wish to block or allow specific games on the computer, click the link for Block or Allow specific games
  8. You can now go through the list of games installed on the computer and allow or block

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  1. Once you have made your selections, click OK
  2. Click OK to return back to the main Parental Controls window
  3. In relation to program access, it is important to remember that you either give access to all programs or you specify which programs they will have access to. You do not block access but rather must grant access. So if you want them to be able to access Microsoft Word, Excel, and the Calculator, you must manually select those three programs. Any programs you do not select with not be granted access to the user.
  4. Click the link for Allow and block specific programs
  5. You will see that by default, the user will have access to all programs

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  1. Change this setting to *User* can only use the programs I allow
  2. A scan will now be made on your computer to identify all the programs available and allow you to grant access on an individual basis
  3. Scroll through till you locate the program you wish to allow access to and place a tick in the checkbox for that program

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  1. Click OK
  2. Click OK to complete the process
  3. I recommend you now log off your computer and login using your child’s new account and test out the settings
  4. To make any alterations, it is as simple as logging in as your own account and going back into Parental Controls to make any quick changes

Check back next week for my next post on how to keep your child safe online. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.

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