By Michael Lasky
There are many good reasons to limit how kids use a PC and where they go on the Internet — and sometimes good reasons to control where adults go, too. Malware, child predators, financial scams, and more are all threats to take seriously.
Windows 7’s Parental Controls is a good start, but for the best protection you need to go beyond what Win7 offers.
A well thought-out system for managing PC use
Oh, the irony. To protect his two sons, my neighbor Tom tried to set up parental controls on his Windows 7 PC. But his 11-year-old son had to show him how to do it. Although it’s too late for Tom, here’s a guide to setting up user accounts and parental controls in Windows 7 — plus an app that keeps kids safe online.
Win7’s parental controls are far from heavy-handed. They offer multiple options for limiting PC use without venturing into what some might consider Big Brother monitoring (or spying, from a kid’s point of view). You can use the controls to set computer-use time limits, block access to specific programs, and control the use of games — by title, content, or ESRB rating. (The Entertainment Software Rating Board creates age-level ratings based on games’ thematic and specific content.)
Figure 1. To enable Parental Controls, you must set up one or more standard users.
Whether your kids have their own computer or have their own accounts on a shared family PC, there are two requirements for applying Parental Controls: the PC must have at least one standard-user (not administrative-level) account, and the system’s admin account(s) must be password-protected. (Parental controls can be applied only to standard-user accounts; they’re set using an admin account.) Also, make sure your kids can’t easily guess the admin password.