It used to be that locking down your family computer from inappropriate material or users sitting in front of their PC way too long was a chore. In Windows 8, the operating system itself is able to monitor underage users. Windows 8 is able to manage these tasks because of a featured called Family Safety.
Originally a standalone app only available to users who downloaded the Live Essentials collection of apps, Family Safety can monitor child accounts and report online activity directly to a parent account. It can also be used to automatically regulate when your child is online. For example, parents can tell their Windows 8-equipped tablet, notebook or all-in-one to not let their children in during certain times or for an extended amount of time. All of this monitoring relies on something very essential to Windows: user accounts. Every single Windows device allows parents to create user accounts. In Windows 8 Microsoft introduced a new Child account type that is limited in what it does and automatically reports information back to the device’s administrator account.
Before we begin, it’s important to remember that you’ll need the Windows 8.1 update before the setup process you get looks exactly like what’s shown below. Windows 8.1 is a free update that Microsoft makes available in the Windows Store. If you don’t already have it, download it now. It’ll take about an hour and also includes new customization features and the ability to hide the Start Screen when your device boots. Go to the Windows Store to see if it’s available on your device. If you see a banner labeled Install Windows 8.1, then tap or click on it to begin the setup process. If you don’t see the banner than you’ve already installed the update.
Setting Up Family Safety
Because Family Safety relies on parents and children having separate accounts, it’s that point that the setup process begins. If you haven’t created separate accounts for your entire family on every device, now is the time to do so. We walk Windows 8.1 users through creating any type of account in How to Create New Accounts in Windows 8.1.If everyone is using the same account on your Windows 8.1 device, remedy that now by creating at least one separate child account (or multiple child accounts if you have multiple children).
If you’ve already created at least one separate child account, here’s what to do. Go to the Start Screen by pressing the Windows key on your notebook or desktop’s keyboard. Tablet or 2-in-1 users should press the Windows button underneath their device’s display. Now place your mouse cursor in the top-right corner of your display to open the Charms Bar. Tablet users should place their finger on the left edge of their display and move their finger to the left. Now tap or click on the Settings Charm. Tap or click on Change PC Settings. Tap or click on Accounts on the left side of your display. Tap or click on the Other Accounts option. Now you’ll want to tap or click on the name of the account you’ve previously created for your child’s use. In our case it’s simply called Test. Make it a Child Account by tapping or clicking on the menu and selecting Child Account. Then tap or click Ok.
Managing Family Safety
Now go back to the Start Screen and open the charms again by placing your cursor in the top-right corner of your device’s display or by placing your finger on the right edge of your tablets display and swiping slightly to the left. Tap or click on the Search Charm. Type Family Safety into the Search Box and click or tap on the magnifying glass. Tap or click on Family Safety in the menu. Tap or click on Manage Settings on the Family Safety Website. You’ll immediately be taken to Microsoft’s website, where you’ll need to sign into your Microsoft Account. Now tap or click on the name of the Child Account you previously created. Welcome to the Family Safety control panel. From here you can completely manage your child’s entire online experience. Activity Reporting and Web Filtering are probably going to be the most important features for anyone looking to protect their young child from looking up unsavory things online. Turning on Web Filtering will block access to content that you think they’re not ready to see. This can be customized to your child’s maturity level. Activity Reporting will automatically share your child’s activities with you through emails sent to your Microsoft Account. Certain content and actions will need to be approved if someone’s using a child account. Parents can manage these approvals through the Requests area.
The most important thing about all of these features is that these settings sync from device to device. As such, your child is protected by Family Safety no matter where they’re logged in. Windows Phone 8.1 also integrates with these features. As such, you can keep an eye on what your children are doing and playing on Microsoft’s smartphone platform as well.