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Vista Parental Controls

What can you tell me about the parental controls in Windows Vista? I need to set them up so my kids will be safer on the computer, but I’m not sure where to start. Please help!

Well, as a matter of fact, I can tell you quite a bit about them! And with kids being back in school now (or if they’re not yet, they will be soon!), this is perfect timing for this question. Most kids are done playing outside for the summer and they’ll be inside using the computer a lot more for all those reports and school projects they have to do. So, there isn’t any better time than now to make your computer “kid safe.” And to be honest, there’s no better way to do that than with the parental controls that come along with your Windows Vista computer!

We have done articles in the past on child safety for Windows XP, but we haven’t covered much on this topic for Vista yet and that’s what I want to change today! By the time you’re done reading this article, your kids (or grandkids) will be doing their schoolwork on the safest computer in town. Let’s check it out!

Lucky for you, the parental control software you need for your computer came right along with your Vista operating system, so you don’t have to worry about purchasing another program or anything like that. The controls in Vista are designed to help you manage what your children do while they’re using the computer. You have total control over what programs your children use, what games they play, which Web sites they can visit and you even have control over the amount of time they can spend on the computer. To keep your mind at ease, everything is taken care of.

To get to the Parental Controls section of Vista, go to Start, Control Panel and then select User Accounts and Family Safety. Next, click on the link that says “Set up parental controls for any user.” Vista will then ask you if you want to continue since you will be changing some components of your computer. You will only be changing a few settings, so click Continue to move on.

Now, the next thing you need to do is make sure all of your accounts are password protected. If you have more than one account on your computer, you need to create a password for each of them. If you don’t, your children could log in to another account where the parental controls are not enforced and that just defeats the whole purpose! To do this, click on an account that doesn’t have a password. Then click on the Yes button when it asks you if you want to ensure that all your accounts have passwords. You will then be taken to the area where you can set up passwords for all of your accounts. On the other hand, if your accounts already have passwords, you can just skip past this part.

When you’re ready, click on the account name that you want to set parental controls for. You will then see a list of settings and you can go through each one to set them up exactly the way you want them. For the Parental Controls option, make sure the On choice is selected. The next option is Activity Reporting. That one needs to be turned On as well. Next, you can go down the list and change the settings to fit your needs. You can do so for: Windows Vista Web Filter, Time Limits, Games and Allow and Block Specific Programs.

Once you have all of those set up, go over to the right hand side of the window and you can change your settings for the Web Restrictions (you can set it to High, Medium, None or Custom) and you can turn on the Time Limits, Game Ratings and Program Limits controls if you want as well. When you’re completely finished changing your settings and when you’re satisfied they’re set right for your children, simply click OK. Once you click OK, everything will take action!

Now, everything is pretty self-explanatory when you’re going through the settings, but if you’d like to read more about each one specifically, you can check out this Web site. I highly suggest that you take the time to go through your parental controls, especially if you have younger children. Also, if your children use the Internet a lot, you’ll definitely want to pay attention to the Web settings. With all the crazy stuff going around on the Web today, you need to take control and keep your kids safe. It all lies within your hands and with it being so easy to do, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t! I hope your children have an awesome and safe school year!

~ Erin