In this day in age, you can never be too careful to protect your children from the harms of the World. The Internet can be an amazing tool yet at the same time, it poses many risks to your child. Microsoft has done an great job at implementing different tools, both in Windows Vista and online to help keep your kids safe. We’ve already talked about parental controls built-in to Vista and so today we’ll be talking about safety online.
Using Windows Live OneCare Family Safety, you can keep your children safe while they’re using the Internet. Here’s a quick rundown on what you can do:
- See who your kids are talking to by managing or monitoring their contacts list in Windows Live Hotmail. By managing their contacts, they’ll have to get permission to talk to a new contact.
- Choose which sites you want to block or allow and get recommendations on good sites to visit from the American Academy of Pediatrics based upon their age
- and more…
Before we get started, just note that you must have Windows XP with SP2 or Vista installed. Additionally, you need to be using IE6 or later or Firefox 1.5 or later.
Download and Install Family Safety
The first thing that you’ll need to do is download Windows Live OneCare Family Safety. It’s free and will allow you to keep your children safe while using the Internet. To get started, visit http://get.live.com/familysafety/overview and click the “Get it Free” button. Once it has been downloaded, run the installation process. Just like installing Windows Live Messenger, it’s quick and easy. Once this is done, you’ll be ready to set it up.
Please note: You must have Family Safety installed in order for any settings to be applied.
Setting up Family Safety
To get Family Safety set-up, you’ll need a Windows Live ID. You’ll enter your name and password, and then you’ll decide upon a password for the account. This will be used if you want to temporarily turn off Family Safety. This will come in handy if you have guests over who are wanting to use the Internet because only family members who have been added to the safety list will be able to use the computer to access the Internet.
Once you do the setup process, you’ll use the Family Safety website to add family members. In your system tray you’ll see an icon that will easily bring you to the Family Safety website.
Adding a Child
To start the configuration process, you’ll need to go to http://fss.live.com There you’ll be able to click “get started” or “sing-in.”. Part of the set-up process includes adding parents and children. I set myself as a parent, and then added a child. Once I added a child I tried to sign in to their account but was prompted with a notification saying that I needed to get permission to use the service. The two options to get the parent permission were “Get Permission Now” or “Ask by Email.”
Either route that is taken will ultimately end-up with the parent signing in with their account and then verifying that they’re an adult by providing a valid credit card number. The message says, “A credit card is the only method of age verification we accept.” There is no charge to your credit card, and we delete the credit card information immediately after we verify that it is valid.”
What you can manage online
For each child that you add, you’ll be able to block or allow access to categories of websites according to content in the “settings” tab of the Family Safety site (http://fss.live.com). Categories are as follows: Alcohol, bomb making, drugs, gambling, hate speech, mature content, pornography, sexual education, tobacco, weapons, web chat, web mail, or any website that Family Safety can’t evaluate. Below is a screenshot of what the configuration screen looks like:
There’s also a Websites tab in which you can enter specific addresses that the child will either be allowed or blocked from visiting. Once you’re done in either the settings or the websites tab, you’ll need to click save and then click the Family Safety icon in your system tray and click “Get latest settings.” By doing this, you’ll ensure that when your child gets on the computer, the latest settings you have set will be applied to their accounts.
Wrapping it up
With all of the online risks to children, it’s not a bad idea to use Windows Live OneCare Family Safety to keep your kids safe while they’re on the Internet. The process of setting everything up to your liking will take some time, but once you’re done, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that your kids are better protected from any harms that may be out there on the Internet.