Parent’s Guide to Microsoft’s Windows Vista

 
Windows Vista’s parental controls help families set limits to their children’s computer usage.  Available in Windows Vista Home Basic, Home Premium, and Ultimate these new features allow individual customizations to safeguard each member of the family.
 
Your child’s computer access rights should be based upon their age and maturity. The restrictions placed upon a toddler are obviously too limiting for a teenager. Parental controls should supplement the broader conversations with your children regarding Internet safety.  When discussing your child’s Internet access privileges, try not to actually use the demeaning phrase “Parental Controls” (^_^)
 
TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR WINDOWS VISTA COMPUTER:  Hopefully the parent(s) originally setup the family computer granting themselves Administrator rights. Only the Administrator can install/uninstall software, modify the computer’s configuration – and create additional users with specific “limited” access rights.
 
If your children originally setup the computer, by default THEY would be the Administrator. This means you’re now in the uncomfortable position of asking your child for their password to grant yourself Administrator rights, and then revoke theirs! 
 
    • Login as the child that setup the computer
    • Create a New User Account for yourself
    • Grant Administrator rights to your new account
    • Login as yourself
    • Give yourself a secure password
    • Revoke the Administrator rights from your children’s account  
 
CREATE / VERIFY CHILDREN WITH LIMITED ACCESS RIGHTS:  These limited access rights should allow children to work/play on the computer without impeding them too much.  If you limit access too much, you’ll make your home computer cumbersome to use – your kids will find another computer to use at their friend’s house, school, or library.

CREATE A CHILD’S USER ACCOUNT
  1. From a Parent’s (Administrator) Account – click the Start Button and select Control Panel
  2. In the top-left of the Control Panel’s window click Control Panel Home (IF it’s clickable)
  3. From User Accounts and Family Safety section, click Add or Remove User Accounts
  4. Windows Vista will (probably) ask to verify this action – if so, click Continue
  5. Click Create a new account
  6. Enter your child’s first name – ensure that Standard User is selected and
  7. Click Create Account
  8. Return to Step #5 for additional children 
 
VERIFY AN EXISTING CHILD’S USER ACCOUNT
  1. From a Parent’s (Administrator) Account – click the Start Button and select Control Panel
  2. In the top-left of the Control Panel’s window click Control Panel Home (IF it’s clickable)
  3. From User Accounts and Family Safety section, click Add or Remove User Accounts
  4. Windows Vista will (probably) ask to verify this action – if so, click Continue
  5. Click on any of your children’s user accounts that say Administrator
  6. Click Change the account type
  7. Click Standard User – followed by Change Account Type
  8. Click Manage another account
  9. Return to Step #5 for additional children 
 
CREATE YOUR CHILD’S PASSWORD (OR MAYBE NOT?):  Depending on the child’s age you may wish to make using the computer easy and NOT assign a password. With multiple children in a household, passwords may be necessary to ensure that younger children are not exposed to content that’s perfectly fine for an older child – or simply to prevent siblings computer pranks.
 
NOTE:  Parent’s should use these instructions to verify that their own (Administrator) user accounts have a secure password.
VERIFY/RESET AN EXISTING CHILD’S PASSWORD
  1. From a Parent’s (Administrator) Account – click the Start Button and select Control Panel
  2. In the top-left of the Control Panel’s window click Control Panel Home (IF it’s clickable)
  3. From the User Accounts and Family Safety click Add or Remove User Accounts
  4. Windows Vista will (probably) ask to verify this action – if so, click Continue
  5. Click on a child’s account who’s password you wish to change
  6. Click on Create a password
  7. Depending on your child’s age – pick an appropriate secure password (Verify Your Password)

    NOTE 1: Entering two “blank” password fields will remove the password
    NOTE 2: Do NOT type a password hint. (Not a brilliant security feature)

  8. Click Create password
  9. Click Manage another account
  10. Return to Step #5 for additional children 
 
SET-UP PARENTAL CONTROLS: This main configuration screen may seem overwhelming; but it’s simply
broken into a few questions / sections.
 
    • Control Web Surfing?
    • Set Time Limits?
    • Allow or block certain programs?
    • Enforce Video Game Ratings?
    • Monitor Computer Useage? (i.e. Video & Audio Played, Track Email & Instant Messaging) NOTE: Vista’s Parental Controls May Slow Down Zune Marketplace.
TURN-ON PARENTAL CONTROLS 
  1. From a Parent’s (Administrator) Account – click the Start Button and select Control Panel
  2. In the top-left of the Control Panel’s window click Control Panel Home (IF it’s clickable)
  3. From the User Accounts and Family Safety click Set-up parental controls for any users
  4. Windows Vista will (probably) ask to verify this action – if so, click Continue
  5. Click on a child(s) user account
  6. From the Parental Controls section – click On, enforce current setting 
 
CONFIGURE WINDOWS VISTA WEB FILTER:  These web restrictions will be automatically be updated (only with your approval) as your child uses the Internet.
  1. From the Windows Settings section – click Windows Vista Web Filter
  2. Select Block some websites or content (your child will later require your permission)
  3. Decide if you wish to select Only allow websites which are on the allow list  [NOTE: To pre-approve websites your children frequent, click on Edit the Allow and block list]
  4. Choose a web restriction level. High for young children; Medium to protect against objectionable content and None if you plan on monitoring web surfing after-the-fact. [NOTE: I didn’t include “Custom” because it’s doubtful you’ll deny “pornography” but allow your children to visit “Hate speech” or “Bomb making” websites.]
  5. Select Block file downloads (your child will have to ask for permission)
  6. Click OK when completed 
 
SET TIME LIMITS:  Not to worry; your children receive warnings when their time limit is approaching. Then their work is automatically saved, and the desktop is preserved for the next time they can login.
  1. From the Windows Settings section – click Time Limits
  2. Select (click or click-n-drag) the hours you wish allow or block
  3. Click OK when completed  
 
ENFORCE GAME RATINGS:  Allow or block specific games, or based upon ESRB content ratings.
  1. From the Windows Settings section – click Games
  2. From the Can they play games? section – select No if you wish to prevent all game play (then skip to step #6)

    . . . or select Yes to enforce specific game play settings

  3. From the Block (or allow) games by rating and content types – click Set game ratings
  4. Decide to Allow or Block games with no ratings (choose do not allow if also enforcing ESRB content ratings in the next step)
  5. Select an appropriate ESRB content rating level for your child
  6. Click OK when completed
  7. From the Block (or allow) any game on your computer by name – click Block or Allow specific games
  8. If appropriate, block any specific games
  9. Click OK twice when completed
CONFIGURE SYSTEM SETTINGS:  Allow or block specific Windows Vista programs.
  1. From the Windows Settings section – click Allow and block specific programs
  2. Click My child can only use the programs I allow
  3. Click the checkboxes of the programs you wish to allow. [NOTE: Use the Check All or Uncheck All buttons to make your selection process quicker]
  4. Click OK when completed 
 
TURN-ON ACTIVITY REPORTING:  While you can now monitor everything your children are doing; be careful what you wish for – you may not like what you read!
  1. From the Activity Reporting section – click On, collect information about computer usage 
  2. Click View activity reports to monitor the follow items:
      • Top 10 Websites Visited
      • Most Recent 10 Websites Blocked
      • Web Overrides
      • File Downloads
      • File Downloads Blocked
      • Logon Times
      • Applications Run
      • Applications Overrides
      • Games Played
      • Email Received
      • Email Sent
      • Contact List Change
      • Instant Messaging Conversations
      • Instant Messaging Web Cam
      • Instant Messaging Audio
      • Instant Messaging Game Play
      • Instant Messaging File Exchange
      • Instant Messaging Link Exchange
      • Instant Messaging SMS Message
      • Instant Messaging Contact List Change
      • Media (audio, video) Played
      • General System – Changes to Settings
      • General System – Account Changes
      • General System – System Clock Changes
      • General System – Failed Logon Attempts
 
Additional Road to Know Where Parent’s Guides:
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About blakehandler

BLAKE is a Microsoft MVP and award winning programmer with over 20 years experience providing complete Windows and networking support for small to medium sized businesses. BLAKE was also a Personal Technology Coach for residential clients on the Los Angeles West Side. BLAKE now works full-time for a major media company.
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