A long while back I wrote a column similar to this one. Since that time I have continued to receive emails about this issue. I have decided to review, update information and write several articles in a series regarding protecting your family (mainly kids) online.
OK, I know your kids are perfect; they always obey you and follow all of your rules. So this column will be for the honest parents out there who realize their kids are…well kids.
We will pretend that you only want your children to use their computer between 7 pm and 9 pm every night except Saturdays. For Saturdays from 8 am to 9 pm may be your chosen limit.
Using Windows 7 you have the ability to setup "Parental Controls." Vista also has this feature but we are going to only look at W7 today.
First, your kids need their own user account on the computer. If you have kids with varying boundaries, set up an account for each and make sure you password protect them. Of course, if one of your kids gives someone their passwords…oh wait, I forgot that you have the perfect children, so never mind.
To set up your kid(s) account click the Start orb, Control Panel, then User Accounts. (An even easier way to get here is to click the orb and type, "User Accounts" and the enter key.)
Enter an account name for this new account. You don’t have to be too creative here. How about using your kid’s name? Now click, "Create Account" making sure that you set it up as a "Standard" account. You now have the new account on the screen.
Next, look at the bottom of their screen and click on, "Set up Parental Controls."
You will be given the choice of which account you want to apply Parental Controls to, so select the account you just created. If you did all of your kids’ screens at once, choose the one you want to start setting up. Turn Parental Controls to "On, enforce current settings." After that you will have links for, "Time Limits," "Games" and "Program Controls."
In our example we will use Time Limits so click that link. Here you get a graphical layout of every day of the week and each hour. Click and drag your mouse over the hours you want to block access. The blue blocks are the "no use" times and the clear hours are when this account can log onto the computer. Each day may be controlled individually or all at once. Play with it to see how it works; it does not set the account until you click OK.
If you click the "Games" link you can filter what they can play by rating, content or title. This is not universal so you may have an older game which is not influenced by this setting. However, if you go to the last of the three settings, "Allow or block specific programs" you will get a listing of all of the applications/programs found on your computer. Simply uncheck the ones you do not want your child to use. For an older game you could not limit, click the browse button and find it there to set a limit on that application.
Yes, you can even stop them from using the Chat apps and Internet Explorer (on most computers).
I will have more suggestions next week.