How to Use Windows 10 Family Safety Controls - dummies

How to Use Windows 10 Family Safety Controls

By Andy Rathbone

A feature much-welcomed by parents and much-booed by their children, the Windows Family Safety area in Windows 10 offers several ways to monitor how children can access the computer as well as the Internet.

Rather than running as a program on your computer, Family Safety controls now work online through a Microsoft website. By tracking your children’s activity through their Microsoft account usage, you can monitor their online activity wherever they log into a Windows 10 PC or Windows 10 smartphone. The online, password-protected records stay online, where you can access them from your own PC, tablet, or smartphone.

Family Safety controls only work if you and your children have Microsoft accounts.

To set up Family Safety, follow these steps:

  1. Add your children and any adults who want to monitor the children as Family Members when creating their user accounts.

    If your other family members have their own computers, you should still add their Microsoft accounts as family members on your own computer. That links everyone as a family, allowing children to be monitored by any adults in your family.

    When you add family members to your PC’s list of user accounts, each member receives an e-mail inviting them to join your family network; when they accept, their accounts automatically appear on your computer.

  2. Visit Microsoft’s Family Safety website, and click the name of the child you’d like to monitor.

    Open any browser and visit the website. The site opens to show your list of family members who have accepted their invitations. Click the name of a family member, and the website, shown here, lets you set limits on that child’s computer behavior, as well as monitor his activity.

    The Microsoft Family website lets you set limits on your children's computer activity.
    The Microsoft Family website lets you set limits on your children’s computer activity.
  3. Turn on the categories you’d like to enforce, and set the limits.

    The Microsoft Family area contains a variety of categories that let you monitor or control different areas of behavior. Visit any of the categories described below, and each opens a new page with a toggle control at the top. Turn the toggle to either On and Off, then fine-tune the offered settings. (You can also turn categories Off to temporarily suspend monitoring in those areas.)

    The Microsoft Family website offers these categories, which apply whenever your child accesses a Windows 10 computer, phone, or small tablet:

    • Recent Activity: A haven for time‐stressed parents, this offers a quick rundown of your child’s computer activity.

    • Activity Reporting: Visit here for a detailed breakdown on visited websites, as well as number of hours spent on the computer in general.

    • Web Browsing: toggle switch here lets you block adult content, disable browsing in private, and turn on Bing’s SafeSearch to protect against viruses. You can also add sites to an Allow or Block list, and toggle whether downloads are allowed.

    • Apps & Games: Visit here for a toggle to block inappropriate apps and games for any age between 3 and 20.

    • Screen Time: A grid appears here for you to choose the exact hours your child is allowed to access the computer.

  4. When you’re through, close the Microsoft Family window.

    Your changes take place immediately. When you’re through, just close your web browser.

Although the Microsoft Family controls work well, few things in the computer world are foolproof. If you’re worried about your children’s computer use, cast an occasional eye their way. Also, these controls only monitor your child when he logs in with his Microsoft account. If you spot an unfamiliar account created on the PC, it’s time to ask some questions.