How-To Geek

How To Use Parental Controls in Windows 7

The Parental Controls feature is a valuable tool for controlling the amount of time your children spend on the computer and the programs they’re using. Today we take a look at how to setup and use Parental Controls in Windows 7.

Parental Controls

To access Parental Controls open the Start Menu and type parental controls into the Search box and hit Enter.


Alternatively you can open Control Panel and click on Parental Controls.


When you open Parental Controls, click on the child’s account you want to set up.


Make sure to password protect your Administrator account…otherwise anyone can turn off Parental Controls and use the computer with no restrictions.


If you see a password hasn’t been set when you go into Parental Controls, click on the message and you’ll be prompted and Ensure Administrator Passwords.


Under Parental Controls mark the radio button next to On, enforce current settings. Then you can go through and control their computer time, games, and programs.


Set Time Limits

Click on Time limits to control when your child has access to the computer. If you want to only allow a few hours each day, it’s easiest to left-click and drag the mouse across all of the time slots to block them. Then allow the time blocks when you want to make the computer available.


Control Games

Click on Games to control the type of access your child has to games on the computer. You can completely block all games or select games by ratings and game names. These game ratings are based on the Entertainment Software Rating Board.


You can also select different game rating systems if it’s more appropriate for your location or if you like a certain system better than another.


You can also block games based on the type of content it contains…and it gives you a lot of choices.


Control Programs

If you want to restrict certain programs on the machine, click on Allow and block specified programs then scroll through the list of installed programs and block them.


Additional Controls 

Windows 7 doesn’t have a Web Filter included like Vista did. If you want additional controls like Web Filtering and activity reports, you’ll need to install Windows Live Family Safety which is part of the Window Live Essentials suite. With it you can block access to certain sites and also get access to an activity report that shows you what sites your children have been visiting.


Everything can be controlled online which makes it nice if you want to access a report or change settings while at work.


The Parental Controls feature is easy to use and helps you administer how your children use the computer. Of course nothing is perfect or foolproof and the Parental Controls won’t replace good old fashioned “real parenting” but it makes it easier.

Download Windows Live Family Safety

Brian Burgess worked in IT for 10 years before pursuing his passion for writing. He's been a tech blogger and journalist for the past seven years, and can be found on his about me page or Google+

  • Published 02/10/10

Comments (11)

  1. Bob

    WLFS has a long way to go to catch up with some other free programs. Its plus points are that it can record individual activity and can be set up for the same user on multiple machines, and also that the activity can be viewed remotely (eg from the office while the kids are at home). They can also request access via an email request to specific sites.

    What I find lacking is the very poor level of site classification, and the lack of a temporary over-ride function. I combine WLFS with K9 Web protection and find the two together work very well. K9 has more categorisation, time-out settings for attempted violations, time limits for web access within PC access, more detailed logging etc

  2. Carl

    OpenDNS is a free content filtering service which is a good complement to Windows Parental Control.

  3. Trucchi computer

    Wow!! ;) Thank you for the article!! ;)

  4. Bob

    @Carl – I’ve just discovered this based on another How-to article – this also has the great advantage of locking down iphones, PS3’s etc which are otherwise difficult to control – a must for responsible parents with teenagers!

  5. Rakesh

    Really helpful

  6. Louis

    I would like to add web filter control to my win 7 just like the one in win vista home that I already have? I want it to work both online and offline. How?

  7. haney nalaunan

    i can’t understand
    but it’s easy ;)

  8. Alicia

    I can’t get parental controls for a new user account I set up for a child. I can do everything up to clicking on the user account of the child but then the options for setting time limits etc just don’t appear. All that comes up is Windows Live Family Safety. I don’t want to sign up for this yet. My administrator account has a password but I haven’t put a password on the child’s account.

  9. JohnnyB

    A bit naff really. My daughter is 14, I don’t really mind too much what she views on the internet or what she chooses to install on her PC, as such she has an Administrator account. I do however, want to restrict when she uses the internet (caught her once at 3am on a school night!!). But the ‘Time Restrictions’ feature can only be applied to basic user accounts. Problem now is everytime she wants to install/do anything I have to go upstairs and enter a password…. I think I’ll just give her back her admin account and return to going out to the garage and manually unplug her connection every night.

  10. Ricky

    It is wrong for Microsoft to require me to log into *their* servers in order to limit what sites my child can access. We used to have a simple white list of sites they could visit, and now I can’t do that. It’s none of Microsoft’s business, and I should not be required to use their servers to get simple web filtering. What marketing ninkompoop at made that decision!?

  11. Ashley

    My brother is saying that the activity reports my mom is seeing says he’s going on facebook when he is not. Could the activity report be mistaken?

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