Computers are incredible tools and children of today have the distinct advantage of being able to learn and adapt to new technologies at staggering rates. But as with any tool, a computer has to be used properly and in moderation. In order to teach children how to handle their computers with case and also to protect them from some websites and online services that are unsuitable for their age, Windows 10 users can now add an account for their children and gain access to some basic yet still useful monitoring services.
Note: You will need to use a Microsoft Account if you want to take advantage of these services as they are currently unavailable to local accounts. The reason for this is that the majority of the settings are bound to your own online account, including weekly reports and the blocking of apps, games and websites.
Create the account
The process of creating an account for a child has changed a bit since Windows 8.1, along with pretty much everything else in the revamped Settings utility.
1. Open the Settings and go to Accounts > Family & other users.
2. Click on the “Add a family member” option.
3. Select the “Add a child” option. Note that your kid needs to have an email address for this to work. If they do not, you can create one via the link at the bottom. You can even create one for the specific purpose of monitoring it, if you’d prefer.
4. For the next step you will have to enter your phone number so that Microsoft can verify it and let you restore the account if you ever forget the password or if it is hacked.
5. I highly recommend that you uncheck both boxes in the final step as they related to advertising. I have no idea why Microsoft thought it would be a good idea to leave them enabled by default, but I digress. Just uncheck the boxes and move on.
Setting up Family Safety settings
While you are on the “Family & other users” screen, you should see a link that reads Manage family settings online. Clicking on that will take you to the Family section of your account in your browser so that you can manage what your child can do on the computer with ease.
The default and perhaps most important menu, the recent activity page will give you an instant overview of what your kid has been up to during the last week. It will show you the websites they have visited, the apps they used, the games they played and exactly how long they spent on the computer. A report that looks much like this page will also be emailed to you every week so you can always keep up with what is happening without having to visit this page daily. If you would prefer not to have their activity reported or sent to your email address, you can turn both respective toggles off.
Clicking on “Recent activity” will reveal a dropdown menu that has fourother categories, includning Web browsing, Screen time, apps, games & media and Purchase & spending. The Xbox privacy settings takes place in a different page entirely so we will talk about it later on.
Each of these categories represents the standard activities one does on their computers and allows you almost complete control over what your child can do. For example, you can allow specific websites while blocking others. And if you do not want to place such restrictions then you can turn the “Block in appropriate websites” toggle on and allow Microsoft to block adult websites instead. This will also disable private/anonymous browsing in every compatible browser (including Edge and Chrome) and will enable Bing’s SafeSearch though if you use Google you will have to turn the respective setting on from its own menu.
Microsoft has purposefully simplified all of these settings so that everyone can set them up with ease. Every option is disabled by default but you can easily turn them on via a single toggle. And if you want to block websites, apps or games then the process simply involves typing a couple of names and you can go about your business without worrying about it ever again. The same goes for the allowed screen time as you can not only set specific hours of usage so that your kids cannot use the computer in the middle of the night but you can also set daily usage limits so that you know your kids do not spend more time than is appropriate in their PCs.
The only unfortunate thing is that your kid actually has to use an app or game first before it can be blocked in the settings. This is highly annoying but you can at least block games by their rating right from the get-go and you can also access their accounts and launch offending apps and games so that you can manually block them later.
Xbox privacy settings
This menu should only concern you if your kid actually uses an Xbox console or at least an Xbox gamertag in compatible Windows games. If they do, you can set up restrictions like who can see their accounts, communicate with them or share stuff with them. The harsh truth is that the world of online gaming is not exactly a gentle one so I would recommend blocking certain services if your kids are too young.