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How to Monitor and Control Your Children’s Computer Usage on Windows 8

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Windows 8’s Family Safety features allow you to monitor your children’s computer usage, get weekly reports, set time limits for computer use, filter inappropriate websites, block children from using certain applications, and more.

When you create a new user account in Windows 8, you’ll be able to designate it as a child’s account. This enables the Family Safety feature.

Creating Children’s Accounts

Use Windows 8’s PC Settings application to create a new user account for a child. (Mouse over the bottom or top right corners of the screen,  move your mouse cursor up or down, click the Settings charm, and click Change PC Settings at the bottom of your screen.)

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Select the Users category and click the Add a user button to add a new user account.

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Enable the “Is this a child’s account? Turn on Family Safety to get reports of their PC use” check box while creating a user account.

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Viewing Reports

Assuming you’re using a Microsoft account with Windows 8, you can open the Family Safety website at familysafety.microsoft.com and log in with your Microsoft account credentials.

You can view reports and edit family safety settings for each child from here. You can also add another parent to give multiple people access to the Family Safety page. Settings you specify here will synchronize to each Windows 8 computer you and your children use.

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Click the View Activity Report link for a child to view a report of that child’s computer usage. You’ll also get weekly summary reports in your email inbox.

The reports show which websites your child visits most frequently, how many hours they’ve been logged into the computer on each day of the week, the searches they perform, which apps and games they use, and which apps they’ve downloaded from the Windows Store.

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According to Microsoft, Family Safety is designed for a “monitor first” approach. First you monitor a child’s computer usage, and then you can optionally put restrictions in place. For example, you can block a website directly from the Web activity report.

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The activity reporting feature can also be turned off – for example, you may want to impose computer time limits but not monitor what your children do on the computer.

Controlling Computer Usage

Click the Edit Settings link for a child to customize the child’s Family Safety settings.

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For example, Web Filtering is turned off by default, but you can enable it and set a filtering level.

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You can set time limits for your children’s computer use, either by granting them a limited number of hours each day or imposing a curfew time, after which they won’t be allowed to use the computer.

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You can also block access to specific apps and games from here.

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Log into this website to monitor and control your children’s computer usage from anywhere.


For more information about Windows 8’s Family Safety features, check out Microsoft’s official blog post on the subject.

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 08/22/12

Comments (8)

  1. andyr354

    This might be useful for some of my coworkers…. not their children!

  2. Bill Pendleton

    Amen on the grownups. Einstein was exactly correct —
    Genius has its limits. Stupidity knows no bound.

  3. SatoMew

    I still don’t get the point in parental controls. They’re useless and are just a workaround for lack of proper education. So what if your kid watches porn? Teach him/her about what it really is and what consequences it might have on their behavior but don’t block access to it as you’re just asking for trouble that way.

  4. Anon

    they are to make sure that something like that never becomes an issue in the first place.

  5. SatoMew

    They can be easily circumvented. So it’s a workaround, not a solution.

  6. YB

    I for one, will be sticking with Windows 7. I am not impressed with Windows 8. AT ALL

  7. stew2

    Ya, so what if your kid watches porn?

  8. David Lovering

    As one with some years of experience in host security issues, I can tell you that there are already “work-arounds” to reset the security features for improperly configured Windows-8 OS implementations, and a veritable multitude of links to them on the web.

    How long do you think it will take for your little tykes to access said links through a library/coffee-shop network/computer and take notes? Within a very short period of time the only folks NOT confused by this hodge-podge of firewall/web/app barriers will be your kiddies. After all, most of them know how to bypass this sort of thing by using anonymous/invisible web-proxies and ssh-tunneling anyway. Setting those up takes a properly configured USB flashROM and about twenty seconds — properly meshing the Windows-8 security configurations with one another took me half a day; and I’m in the business!

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