Microsoft bolsters parental controls with Windows 8

Microsoft is aiming to give parents more control over their children's computer use with a new feature in Windows 8.

An example of a "Family Safety activity report".
(Credit: Microsoft)

"With Windows 8, you can monitor what your kids are doing, no matter where they use their PC," Microsoft's Family Safety senior program manager Phil Sohn wrote in a blog post.

Sohn said that this new system is much easier. How it works: parents sign into Windows 8 with a Microsoft account; they create a separate user account for each child, and then check the box to turn on the Family Safety feature.

With these controls and weekly reports, parents will be able to keep tabs on whether their kids are playing violent online video games, looking at bikini models or actually doing their homework. Parents will also be able to make sure their children aren't associating with online predators.

Most previous parental controls focused on complex filtering options or using software to block children from specified websites; however, Microsoft said that with Windows 8, it's now taking a "monitor first" approach. From there, parents can make the controls more or less restrictive.

Microsoft said that Windows 8 will have all the same restrictions as Windows 7, along with some new ones. Here is the list of additional restrictions:

  • 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: you can restrict the number of hours, per day, that 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. You can also set a game-rating level, which will prevent 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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AliceD posted a comment   

These are nice and I do appreciate the need to include such features in the OS these days. So I've been using Qustodio from Its free and offers a complete parental control solution. Based on content, it blocks sites automatically in real time, tracks data, and also monitors the activities kids engage in on social media sites. With these controls in Windows, I am not sure if kids can disable them at will. With Qustodio, its difficult if not impossible to tinker with its features.

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