Parental Controls In Windows Vista

Posted by: minal agarwal , on 6/23/2008, in Category Windows Vista
Views: 50500
Abstract: Many of you must have worked on most of the earlier versions of Windows, and wondered of some security settings that would help you restrict you children or friends access offensive or abhorrent material on your computer. Windows Vista has introduced a range of Parental Controls that would certainly make you happy.
Parental Controls
Microsoft claims that Windows Vista is the first version of Windows to make it safe for children. Many parents are concerned about what their children do when they use their computer. Even you must be anxious to know if your kids find and view any offensive material over the internet like pornography, drug sites, gambling zones, gaming zone violence, and etcetera.
Hence Microsoft has introduced a new feature in Vista that lets you apply parental controls on your children accounts to keep them away from the material they shouldn’t view. Indeed, it is not necessary to use these controls only for children, you may set them for other users like your friends or room-mates if you share your system with them, or even for a standard user account that can be used by you, just to be sure you protect your computer from malicious things happening to it.
Parental Controls are available in Windows Vista Home Basic, Windows Vista Home Premium and Windows Vista Ultimate only, not available in Windows Vista Business and Windows Vista Enterprise.
Configuring Parental Controls
Parental Controls in Vista are set on a per user basis. Hence if you have standard user accounts other than your administrator account then from your administrator account you can configure parental controls on them.
To set up Parental Controls go to Control Panel > User Accounts and Family Safety and choose Parental Controls.
User Accounts and Family Safety
Parental Controls
Then choose the user for whom you want to assign parental controls. Following window appears as soon as you pickup the user.
User Controls
As you would make out, Parental Controls are disabled by default. Once you enable them, by choosing the radio button On, enforce current settings the options related to parental controls will be available. Let us take a look at them one by one:
Activity Reporting
As the name suggests this option records your children’s activity, when it is switched on. You can view these records in the form of activity report, by clicking on View activity reports in the same window.
Activity Viewer
It gives you a summary of activities classified under various headings like Web Browsing section lists Top 10 Websites Visited, Most Recent 10 Websites Blocked or File Downloads and so on. Similarly Instant Messaging shows Conversations, Web Cam usage, SMS Message, File Exchange etcetera. Other sections include Applications Run, Games Played, Emails received and sent, Changes to settings, Account Changes and many more. These activity reports are available for each user for whom parental controls are set.
Windows Vista Web Filter (Web Restrictions)
Web Restrictions Parental Control determines what web content your user can access. You can either Block some websites or content or Allow all websites and content.
Web Restrictions
Allow and block specific websites lets you Edit the Allow and block list and in addition to this option is available to Only allow websites which are on the allow list. In the Allow or block specific websites window, you can add Allowed websites and Blocked websites. You can also choose to Only Allow websites which are on the allow list. In addition to these options, you can import or export your list of allowed or blocked websites.
Allow Block Webpages
If you block some websites or content, you can block content using the automatic restriction levels – High, Medium, None or Custom. Custom level lets you filter out the web content by choosing the options provided by Vista.
Block web content automatically
The last option available in this section is to Block file downloads.
Time Limits
The Time Limits parental control lets you configure exactly what time the user can use the computer. This control uses a grid to represent the time. By default there is no restriction on the user on using the computer. To put time restrictions on the user, use your mouse to click and drag around the grid to capture the timings. If the users are children then you can avoid them to use your computer during their study hours and late hours.
Time Restrictions
The blue blocks represent the timings that are blocked.
Games (Game Ratings)
Games parental control determines whether your children can play games on your computer. The default game parental control setting allows all the standard users to play games, to restrict them open the following window by clicking on Games in the User Controls window.
Game Controls window
Since by default standard user can play games, Yes radio button is selected. By clicking on Set game ratings you can go to the Game Restrictions window where you can choose appropriate ratings from the list defined by Entertainment Software Ratings Board. You can also block some content even if the games has allow rating for that.
Game Restrictions window
Allow and Block Specific Programs
This is the last type of parental control that lets you to allow or block certain applications or programs. Click on Allow and Block Specific Programs to get to the Application Restrictions window. By default standard user can use all programs, hence the radio button is selected. To manually choose what programs user can access, choose User can only use the programs I allow and then select the applications you want to allow the user from the list.
Application Restrictions window
You have seen how to set parental controls for standard users. Now let us see how standard users experience working on the system when parental controls are applied to them. Except for some actions that activate the parental controls, standard users work normally. But where actions are blocked, like in the example below, some games are blocked, when the user tries to play or open the game he gets the following dialog box.
Games window
User can ask for permission to run blocked applications, by choosing the option Ask an administrator for permission from the Windows Parental Controls dialog box. In this case you will be prompted with the User Account Control credentials dialog box, administrator can then verify what the standard user wants to do and grant him permission.
Windows Vista has made it possible to secure your system with the help of different Parental Controls. I hope this article will help you and I thank you for reading it.
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This article has been editorially reviewed by Suprotim Agarwal.

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