Windows 8: Fewer Parental Filters, More Parental Reports

Earlier generations of Windows have offered parental controls to track younger users, but much of the emphasis has been on filtering out inappropriate content, which is always a precarious business. Windows 8 will take a different approach, sending a weekly email report to parents telling them what their kids have been up to.

Microsoft's Building Windows 8 blog outlines the changes to the Parental Controls feature. Rather than having to create a lot of settings when an account for a child is created, parents can simply select the Family Safety option on the account set-up screen.

They will then automatically receive a report (click on the top pic for a larger version) which summarises which apps and sites have been used most often, complete with links to set up filtering or time limits if you want those options. The time limit options, which previously were restricted to setting a "bedtime" for the account, can also now be set to a fixed number of hours per day.

As you can see above, these features aren't in the current Consumer Preview version of Windows 8, but will be added to the release preview which is expected between now and when Windows 8 is commercially available. That's widely predicted to be before the end of the year, though we don't yet have pricing. I'll be curious to see if the filtering options only work in Internet Explorer.

Keeping your family safer with Windows 8 [Building Windows 8]


Comments

    And like all parental involvement, there are a few things to remember:

    1) Most parents won't turn this on because they won't know how, or the computer belongs to the child or the kid will just find out their password by reading your sticky note / downloading a program to get around such blocks.
    2) You should always talk with your child about responsible Internet usage. And not in an interrogation style either. When your child truly is your best friend, discussions about what you experience on the Internet will come naturally, so take a genuine interest in your child so that you don't come across as the "Don't you think I have enough Vodeo-Do" type of parent when you do sit down to speak with them.

    When I was younger my resentment of the lack of privacy my parents gave me in my Internet use was one of my main motivations in upgrading my computer skills - by the time I was 13 I was well and truly capable of hiding web searches, site visits, programs and files that I didn't want them to know about. If your children are even remotely computer savvy they will find ways to circumvent most of the restrictions you can place on them. Tools like this are potentially useful for keeping track of younger kids to make sure they aren't spending their whole lives online or looking up really inappropriate content, but as your children reach their teens they deserve some degree of respect for their privacy. No piece of software can replace honest discussions about what you feel is appropriate computer use and why.

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