Family Safety Settings in Windows 8

Parents will find it easier to monitor their kids’ online activities

One of the issues in today’s always-connected world is parents’ ability to keep an eye on what their children do online, what they access, who they meet and what information they share.

Microsoft’s Windows platform comes with a variety of features that enable parents to better monitor their kids’ behavior online, yet the company also encourages discussions with children on safety and computer use.

In the upcoming Windows 8 platform, parents will find some more options that allow them to keep track of their children’s whereabouts on the Internet.

Regardless of where the computer is used, parents will be offered the possibility to monitor kids’ actions, Phil Sohn, senior program manager lead for Family Safety, Microsoft, notes in a blog post.

“All you have to do is create a Windows user account for each child, check the box to turn on Family Safety, and then review weekly reports that describe your children’s PC use. No additional downloads, installation wizards, or configuration steps are required. Just check the box,” he explains.

Previously, the focus was on web filtering as means of keeping children safe from online threats, but that involved a complex setup process, along with a series of constant parental approval requests that were not as easy to manage as expected.

In Windows 8, all these are simplified, through a “monitor first” approach, meant to deliver informative activity reports for each child.

After signing in with a Microsoft account and setting up a different account for each child, users will receive weekly email reports that detail children’s computer activities. Being delivered by mail, these reports are available on any device, anywhere.

These reports are meant to offer parents the possibility to better teach their kids about responsible computer use. Moreover, they will come with links that will enable them to set restrictions, Microsoft notes.

“With the simplicity of activity reports, we believe more parents will adopt Family Safety, resulting in a safer computing environment for children,” Phil Sohn explains.

To take advantage of these Family Safety features, parents should log in to a Windows 8 PC as administrators, and create separate accounts for each child. These accounts are set as standard from the beginning.

Some of the benefits include the fact that children won’t have access to parents’ emails, online accounts and documents, and that they won’t be able to download malware or other questionable files. The SmartScreen Application Reputation service will automatically prevent it.

At the same time, they will be able to personalize their account’s settings without influencing other accounts on the same PC.

In addition to activity reporting, parents can benefit from increased control over their kids’ activities through setting customizable restrictions directly from links in said reports.

Windows 8 arrives with the restrictions available in Windows 7, as well as with some new ones, including:

Web filtering: You can choose between several web filtering levels.

SafeSearch: When web filtering is active, SafeSearch is locked into the “Strict” setting for popular search engines such as Bing, Google, and Yahoo. This will filter out adult text, images, and videos from your search results.

Time limits: With Windows 8, you now can restrict the number of hours per day your child can use their PC. For example, you might set a limit of one hour on school nights and two hours on weekends. This is in addition to the bedtime limits currently available in Windows 7.

Windows Store: Activity reports list the most recent Windows Store downloads, and you can set a game-rating level, which prevents your children from seeing apps in the Windows Store above a particular age rating.

Application and game restrictions: As in Windows 7, you can block specific applications and games or set an appropriate game rating level.


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