Windows-7-Live-EssentialsWindows 7 offers parental controls you can utilize to keep your family safe from harm when online. However, the built-in controls are not always foolproof in keeping your children safe. You can use Windows Live Family Safety, part of the Microsoft Windows Live suite, to improve the content safety controls on your computer.

Your Windows Live Family Safety settings are configured online through Windows Live as opposed to directly on your computer. Our guide will show you how to use Windows Live Family Safety to keep undesirable content away from your Windows PC and explore its different features.

How to use Windows Live Family Safety

If you do not have Windows Live Family Safety installed as part of your Windows Live Essentials suite, you want to visit Microsoft’s website to download its installer.

Follow the instructions given, and once installed, you can begin using it right away. When open Windows Live Family Safety for the first time, you will be asked to login to your primary Windows Live account. Sign in to Windows Live Family Safety

This will be the account that manages the settings across your network, PCs and more. Once you enter your e-mail address and password, click “Sign in” to begin. You will now be shown the accounts on your computer. If you do not have any standard accounts, you want to create one for your child or other family member you want to control.

Windows Live Family Safety

Click “Create a new standard Windows account.”

Create a new Windows account

A pop-up will appear asking you to name the new account. Enter the name, then click “Create account.” It will take just a few moments for the account to be created.

Please wait while we set up Family Safety

Once created, click the box next to “Monitor account” to continue.

Go to the Family Safety web site to customize settings

Then, click “familysafety.live.com” to login to your Windows Live account online to begin personalizing the parental controls associated with the account through Windows Live Family Safety.

Family summary

When you first login, you will see the accounts listed you can work with. Below that, you will see the ability to add a child, parent or manage accounts.

Management

You will also see a list of the PCs associated with the Windows Live account for you to manage.

Your PCs

Click on “Edit Settings” on the account you want to tinker with parental controls on to continue.

Options for account

On the left-hand side of the screen, you will have a variety of options to set up. Click “Web filtering.”

Web filtering

Web filtering allows you to set up general filters of what the account can and cannot do online. Each category has its own stipulations, so go over each before choosing one. You will also be able to decide if the account can download files or not. Click “Save” to save your options. Now, click “Web filtering lists” in the left-hand column.

Web filtering lists

You can add any websites you want to allow your children or not allow them to visit. Simply type in the URL, then choose “Allow” or “Block” to add it. To the right of the Allow or Block buttons, you can choose if the website is blocked for just that account or for everyone under parental controls in Windows Live Family Safety.

Web filtering per account

Below the input box, you can manage what you already have allowed or blocked.

(14) allowed web sites

Blocked web sites

Now, in the left hand column, click “Activity Reporting.”

Activity reporting

You want to start by making sure “Turn on activity reporting” is active. Once it is, from that point on, all actions on the computer will be logged for your view. You simply navigate back to this activity reporting page to see what your children are up to when on the computer. Click “Contact management” in the left-hand column now.

Contact Management

The first step to using Contact Management is to add your child’s Windows Live ID. From there, you can manage who they are talking to, block users and manage how they interact with contacts. Next, click “Requests” on the left-hand side of your screen.

See requests from account

When your child wants to visit a website that or talk to someone who is blocked, they can request you review what they are trying to do. Requests are divided into website or contact. You simply go through, approve or deny a request and then save your changes. Now, click “Time Limits.”

Time limits for account

With time limits, you can choose when your child has access to your computer.

Curfew

You simply block out periods you do not want your child to have access and click “Save.” They will not be able to logon to the computer during those blackout periods. Click “Game Restrictions” in the left-hand menu.

Set game restrictions for account

You can start by clicking “Turn on game restrictions” and clicking “Save.” This allows you to set up restrictions for the types of games your children play on the computer. You will also be able to set a rating limit as well as allow your children free reign over what they play on your computer. Click “App Restrictions.”

Choose app restrictions for account

App restrictions allow you to decide which programs can be used and which cannot by your children. You can start by clicking “Turn on app restrictions.” Then, simply choose what they can and cannot use making sure to save your settings before you are finished. Windows Live Family Safety is easy to use an additional tool to buffer what Windows 7 already offers in the way of parental controls.

How does Windows Live Family Safety go above and beyond what Windows offers, to begin with?

Windows 7 offers a handful of tools to protect your kids from being exposed to things they should not see while using a computer. While you may think these controls are enough, depending on how smart your child is, they just may not be enough to keep them out of trouble.

Utilizing the built-in Windows 7 parental controls features along with what Windows Live Family Safety offers allows you to cover more bases and keep your children safer. Alternatively, you can use this software to become more productive by blocking time-wasting sites at certain times of the day when you should focus on work instead of checking your Twitter updates or watching videos on YouTube.

Read more about Windows 7 parental controls.

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