We have our first child on the way, and I already plan to lock down every bit of technology – even with four months to go until birth. In Windows 8, the name Parental Controls has become ‘Family Safety’ – which includes some improvements over Windows 7 and giving ‘boooring’ parents a bit more power.

Step 1: User Account Setup

Where does the vigilant parent start? At the Control Panel. Get here by pressing Windows Key + C for the Charm Bar. Or it’s probably easier to hover your cursor bottom-left of the desktop, right-click on the mini start screen and click Control Panel.

Fig.1. Desktop with Charm Bar Windows Key + C

Fig.2. Desktop with Settings > Control Panel

Fig.3. Control Panel > User Accounts and Family Safety

Click on User Accounts and Family Safety and you’re presented with a further screen with:

•    User Accounts
•    Family Safety
•    Credential Manager (ignore this)

I’m presuming that this is the child’s PC or shared PC in the home, and also that you don’t want to sync accounts.

And here’s where I think a bit of controversy may occur. Personally, I won’t be giving my children an online email account until they are at least….67 years old. Therefore, they won’t be able to sync account settings or download apps from the Windows Store (which will save me a bit of cash and reduce a bit of stress). So it’s a local account only for the moment.

Simply follow these steps to add a new user…

Fig.4. Add a New User Account (within User Accounts and Family Safety)

Fig.5. Click sign in without a Microsoft Account > Next it will take you to another screen where you can select Microsoft Account (or in this scenario Local Account).

Fig.6. Type in the User name and Password

Fig.7. Select ‘Turn on Family Safety’ this will turn on the Microsoft Reporting funtions, finally click FINISH.

The really cool thing is when you’ve setup the child’s account and checked ‘Family Safety’, if you’ve got a Microsoft ID you’ll get an email from Microsoft entitled Microsoft Family Safety. This contains tips and tricks to help you further.

Step 2: Enforce Family Safety

So, what can you do to restrict usage and keep your offspring safe? Here’s a quick run-down, after ensuring you have turned Family Safety On, and switched Activity Reporting to On:

Web Filtering

You have two options:

1. Visit all websites
2. Websites that you allow – this feature opens up some nice functions.

Fig.8. Set the correct level to block, for example Adult sites

Fig.9. Here you can block certain sites

Time Limits

Again two options:

1.    Set Time allowance – which means xx mins per day
2.    Set Curfew – no under the bed browsing with the lights off.

Fig.10. Set Time Allowance range from 0-45 minutes and you can set independently.

Fig.11. Curfew set the allow or blocked time as you deem necessary.

Windows Store and game restrictions

Two options:

1.    Set game and Windows Store Rating
2.    Allow or block specific games – no Grand Theft or Call of Duty will ever be allowed here!

Fig.12. Similar to the Windows 7 ratings here’s where allow/block on ESRB/PEGI or other international games ratings

Fig.13. If any Games were installed here’s where you could control access

App Restrictions

This looks interesting – is it APPLOCKER?! Two options, of course:

1.    Can use all Apps
2.    Only APPS that I allow – this works on the .exe, wow!  That’s really good

An amazing addition is View activity reports, where you can have a sneaky look over the history of their censored or un-censored activity. Even better, you can jump from this screen to https://familysafety.microsoft.com/safety/default.aspx, where you can login with your ID and get enough detailed information to ground them for life.

Fig.14. Block (or allow) which applications you’ll permit to run for the user account.

And finally

Family Safety is a massive improvement on the Windows 7 version. And it could also be useful if you’re working in a small school / youth club, from the safeguarding perspective.

It’s one of those features that is as good / bad as you administer it. I’m sure some people will view this as draconian parental censorship (see the reporting feature). But I’d personally like to see what my children are up to on my internet connection (or anyone else’s – I’ll still get reports if they are roaming).

There are loads more options within Family Safety; it’s really worth a good look.