Children nowadays are being exposed to things that their parents never before even experienced. The Internet has evolved so much and so quickly that many times it is hard to keep up. Older generations may have little or no knowledge whatsoever about computers or even that there are ways to protect children from online predators. In order to set up parental controls to keep your children or grandchildren safe, you will have to learn at least a little about the dangers that you are up against. Fortunately, Windows Vista is a very user-friendly program that will allow you to follow steps to designate what kinds of games and websites are and are not appropriate for the members of your family.
If you do not have Windows Vista (if your computer is older or of you have a different operating system) you can purchase the software program at most office supply stores.
If you have Vista on your computer already, you may be able to notice that a centralized location has been created for Vista so that parents can easily go there to find the family safety settings for their computer.
After you have found the Windows parental control settings you can begin to personalize your control settings. Remember that these services are free if you own Windows Vista. There are different options to choose from that include the following:
• Time Limits — This is where you set the limits of when your child is allowed to use the Internet and other specified applications on the computer.
• Web Restrictions — Here you can restrict what types of web sites your children can visit. Parents can choose to block content in a number of different ways. Parents can block content by category (i.e. my child cannot go to pornographic sites) or by specific URL addresses (i.e. if you do not what your child managing a MySpace profile simply block their ability to visit www.myspace.com).
• Game Restrictions — Parents can restrict the types of online games that children play based on game ratings. Games with adult content would not be allowed access.
• Application Restrictions — Parents can apply limits to what applications the child is allowed to use on the computer.
• Activity Reporting — Choose to turn on or off the activity reporting feature in the settings. When on, you will be able to see a report of exactly what your child has done on the computer (i.e. what websites they visited, what programs were used, etc.).
When you are done, you will be able to rest assured that your loved ones will be more protected from the inappropriate contact that they might be exposed to online. You will also have the piece of mind to know that you can review the Internet activity of any user at any time to make sure that there have not been any inappropriate sites visited that may not have been blocked by the filter.
To start setting up your controls you must set up a user account for the child you are creating the restrictions for. Then the Parental Controls panel is used to turn on settings or monitor activities for that user. One of the first things you’ll notice in this screen, after the large on/off toggle, is the second toggle for activity reporting. Activity reporting means that you will be able to see every detail about when your child was on the computer, what programs were being run, what games were being played, and what websites had been visited.
Windows expects to be able to add more detail and precision to their additional features in the Parental Controls feature set. The hope is that programs can be created to keep up with the tricks that predators use to override security filters. The hope is that current features (now built standard into Windows Vista operating systems) will make parents feel safer and more comfortable with what their kids are doing on their home computers and that kids will be protected from the people and influences that they may not be mature enough to handle.