Windows 7 : Keeping Your Family Safe While Using Your Computer (part 1)

2/11/2011 9:21:23 AM
As a parent, teacher, or librarian, you’ll want to use parental controls to help keep young people safe when they are on the Internet and to prevent them from accessing types of content they shouldn’t be accessing. Parental controls enable you to manage three broad categories of Windows settings:
Time restrictions

Control the times when a user can use the computer by blocking or allowing specific hours of the day.

Game restrictions

Control whether a user can play games and the types of games this person can play.

Application restrictions

Control the types of applications a user can run while using the computer.

When parental controls are turned on, you can also collect information about computer usage, and select a game rating system.

1. Turning On Parental Controls

You can set parental controls for standard user accounts on the local computer only. You cannot set parental controls for administrators, and you cannot set parental controls for computers configured to use domain user accounts (typically used in large organizations or companies). Any user designated as an administrator on the local computer can configure parental controls and view activity reports for users subject to parental controls.

You can turn on parental controls by completing the following steps:

  1. Click Start→Control Panel→User Accounts and Family Safety→Parental Controls.

  2. On the “Choose a user and set up Parental Controls” page, shown in Figure 1, you’ll see a list of all users on the computer and a summary of their current account configuration. Any account that has parental controls turned on is listed as such.

  3. All Administrator accounts on your computer should have a password to prevent your kids or other people with standard user accounts from bypassing or turning off parental controls. If there are Administrator accounts on your computer that have no password, you’ll see a warning on the “Choose a user and set up Parental Controls” page.

  4. To clear the password warning, if displayed, click the warning text to display the Ensure Administrator Passwords page shown in Figure 2. On this page, the “Force all administrator accounts to set a password at logon” checkbox is selected by default. To force all users with an administrator account to set a password the next time they log on, accept this setting and click OK.

  5. Click the account for which you want to turn on parental controls.

  6. On the “Set up how…will use the computer” page, shown in Figure 3, click “On, enforce current settings” under Parental Controls to turn on parental controls.

  7. Click OK to apply these settings and then configure the Windows settings to control, as discussed in the sections that follow. Be sure to select a game rating system as appropriate.

Figure 1. Setting up parental controls

Figure 2. Ensuring that administrators have passwords

Figure 3. Configuring parental controls

2. Selecting a Game Rating System

Game rating systems, such as those used by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB), are meant to help protect young people from specific types of mature content in computer games and on the Internet. You can learn more about the available rating systems and select a default rating system to use by completing these steps:

  1. Click Start→Control Panel→User Accounts and Family Safety→Parental Controls.

  2. In the left panel of the main Parental Controls page, click “Game Rating Systems.”

  3. On the “Game Rating Systems” page, shown in Figure 4, you can review the game rating systems available. The default rating system used depends on the country or region settings for your computer.

  4. If you want to change the default rating system, click the rating system you want to use. Beneath each option, you’ll find a link to the home page for the game rating organization. If you have questions about a rating system, click this link to open the home page in Internet Explorer. You can then read about the organization and the related rating system.

  5. Click OK to apply your changes and go back to the Parental Controls page in the Control Panel.

Figure 4. Choosing a game rating system

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