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How to Set Windows 8 Family Safety

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The Parental Controls in Windows 8, now called Family Safety, can be used to filter websites, set time limits on computer use, monitor and restrict apps purchased from the Windows Store and send activity reports via e-mail to parents–the latter of the two being the biggest improvements between 7 and 8. For those of you familiar with the parental controls in Windows 7 and Vista, you’ll feel right at home with the settings in Windows 8 since they all carried over.

The first thing you’ll notice about Windows 8 is the interface overhaul. It’s dramatic and takes some getting used to for longtime Windows users, but Microsoft is simply preparing its operating system for the slew of tablet PCs entering the market. For starters, Windows 8 has a Start screen instead of a Start menu. From this screen you can perform all of the functions you used to in the Start menu from previous versions, including altering settings and launching programs.

Configuring Family Safety –

In order to create a unique and safe Windows 8 experience for your child, the first thing you need to do is give them their own Windows 8 user account. This allows you to enable any and all Family Safety settings for your child without having an effect on your own Windows 8 user account. To do this, you have to gain access to the Control Panel window, which is most easily accessible through the Start screen.

Start Screen > Control Panel –

There are multiple ways to get to the Start screen. If you are using a touchscreen computer, swipe to the right-hand side of the screen and the small Charm menu will appear – just tap the Start icon. If you are using a keyboard, you can take a shortcut and press the Windows button to bring up the menu. Lastly, if you are using a traditional computer, you will need to move the cursor to the lower left hand corner of the screen, and click on the start icon that pops up.

Once you’re looking at the Start screen click on the Control Panel tile, which is outlined in red in the screenshot above. That will take you to the new Control Panel menu, shown in the screenshot below.

Adding a New Child User Account –

From there, click “Users” > “Add a User”, and give a name to your child’s new user account. You will be asked if you want to turn on Family Safety settings for that user; simply check the box and click the Finish button.

After that you’ll be automatically taken to the Family Safety setup. Click the user you wish to configure and you should see a list of settings you can control for that user.

This window allows parents to manage the more in-depth settings, such as Web Filters, Time Limits, Games and Blocking Specific Programs. Below is a breakdown of how each tool works.

Windows Web Filter: Allows you to choose whether to block or allow web downloads, create a blacklist of websites that the user isn’t allowed to visit, and controls settings for filtering adult content such as pornography.

Time Limits: Time limits are straightforward, but curfews allow you to make the computer unusable for the user once they go past preset times on selected days. It’s a fairly simplistic tool, but I’ve come to appreciate it since it makes it easier to keep my children’s computer time in check without me having to constantly check up on them to make sure they’re doing what they’re supposed to.

Games: This setting lets you limit the types of games that can be installed on the computer by your child. For example, you can block all Mature-rated games from being installed. You can also block specific games from being played.

App Restrictions: Similar to game restrictions in that it allows you to block specific programs from being used by your child. This tool also lets parents block certain applications from being downloaded from the Windows Store.

All in all, I think your family will get a lot of enjoyment out of Windows 8, and as a parent, it’s nice how easy Microsoft makes it to enable Family Safety. Thanks, Microsoft!

If you’re currently running an older version of Windows and would like to upgrade online, you can do so here.

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  • I set one of these up for my daughter, but every time she changes pages facebook, twitter, ask.com, etc. are telling her to ask me for permission to access (even though where she is at and doing has NOTHING to do with social media). Can you tell me how to stop these notifications from popping up?

    • Dear jj,

      The editorial team is looking into how to help with notifications. In the interim, I encourage you to read the article about ask.fm as well as the other reviews we’ve written about a number of apps and websites.

      Is your daughter 12 or younger? If she is, know that all the sites/apps that you reference require users to be 13 or older. The Yoursphere app is available to kids and teens with no need for any young person to fabricate their age to join. Consider checking out Yoursphere with your daughter.

  • I am having issues with a restart and the Family safety turning off and my son is able to get to website that he should not have access to.

  • I’ve tried allowing previously blocked apps with Family Safety, but the changes won’t take effect. I’ve restarted, re-logged, checked and double checked but it still blocks the apps. And it won’t pop the temporary permission option either. Have you run into this problem? Any suggestions?

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