Parental Controls and Family Safety in Vista and Windows 7
From the moment the Internet became popular and people started inviting a medium into their homes other than television, cable, and videos, the concern focused on protecting children from the harmful influence that came from this new technology. The Internet has a tremendous amount of beneficial content.
Protecting your family is a personal matter. Suggestions have been given to families that include educating your children about the dangers of certain sites, being more aware of the kinds of games your children are playing, placing the computer in a well-trafficked area in the home, setting house rules, and utilizing technology to fight technology. There are many different types of software for protecting your computer from outside influence. Starting with Windows Vista, the software has been added to your systems.
Live Essentials Family Safety
Although Vista included Parental Control directly within the OS to help families, schools, and libraries protect children, Windows 7's key Internet protection features have been moved off to a downloadable toolset called Windows Family Safety, which can be installed on Windows XP systems as well. The downside is that you have to go through a few extra steps to get it working; the benefit is that it is much more flexible and provides a universal barrier across multiple OS types (although it is good to note that some features work better under Vista or Windows 7 because of the modern security enhancements made within those systems).
Within Windows 7, Parental Controls continue to include Time Limits, Games, and Program Allow/Block features. (Figure 1) However, Internet protection is now open to choice.
Let’s quickly review the features, which are also included in Vista:
- Time Limits: Determine the time your child can use the computer with the account you provide. This is an excellent tool to help children that are sharing one computer (if you’ve given them different times to be on it). It’s also perfect to prevent a child/teenager from getting up in the middle of the night to use the computer without your knowledge. You might wonder what happens if your child is logged in and the time expires (say it’s time for them to go to bed or it's time for their sibling to use the computer). They get automatically logged out when the time is up. This is an excellent way to help them schedule their time (unlike the rest of us, who get wrapped up in hours of computer time).
- Games: Determine what games you approve for your children by choosing from a variety of settings.
- Allow and Block Specific Programs: You can control which programs your children can access even after they are installed on the computer. You can set the rating based upon the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) or you can determine your own settings based upon a large list of “game descriptor” options, including Fantasy Violence, Blood and Gore, Sexual Violence, Simulated Gambling, and so forth.
- Web Restrictions: You can choose a third-party solution that will still be accessible through Parental Controls or you can choose the Windows Live Family Safety option (which we will explain here).