I ran across an application a few months ago but it was not until recently that I had the time and the need to use it. Microsoft's Windows Live Family Safety software can help you keep your children safe online.
There are four basic components to this application:
Web Filtering: Web filtering allows you to specify the types of web sites that your children can access. There are three settings; Strict, Basic, and Custom. Strict is the most restrictive only allowing a small list of websites. You can see that list here. I recommend this setting for younger children. Also in web filtering you can specify specific web sites that you would like to allow or block. Also you can allow or prevent the child from being able to download any files.
Activity Monitoring: Activity monitoring allows you to see a near real time log of all internet activity. You can see exactly what websites your children are visiting, when they visited them, and whether or not they were allowed or blocked when accessing them. From here, you can also change the setting allowing or blocking the site for future visits.
Contact Management: Contact management can control who your child chats with or emails online using Hotmail, Messenger and Spaces. Remember, you can block all other email, chat, and networking websites and force them to use only these.
Requests: On the computer that your child is using, when they access a site that is blocked, they have the ability to click a link to request that you allow them to view the site in the future. In the requests section you will find and be able to authorize or deny any of those requests.
If this sounds good to you, please continue reading and I will walk your through how to install and configure.
How to Install:
- You must have a Live account. If you have a Hotmail account you already have one. You can sign up at Live.com.
- You need to log into the child’s computer with your user account. This account will have the ability to make configuration changes and install the application.
- You need to make sure that your user account has a password. It can be whatever password you want, and depending on your child’s age, it could be very basic.
- You need to ensure that the name of the computer is not the same as the name of any of the user accounts. This seems silly, but I learned this the hard way. For example: If your child’s user name is “Johnny” you must ensure that the computer name is not “Johnny”. If it is change the computer or user name or you will fail when configuring the system.
- Download the application from this link.
- Logged on with your administrator account, on the child’s computer, double-click the application that you just downloaded.
- You are presented with options to install multiple items. I suggest, at this point, you un-check all applications with the exception of “Family Safety”. Click “Install” and follow the instructions as they are presented.
- After you install the application you will need to launch it by clicking “Start” > “Programs” > “Windows Live” > “Windows Live Family Safety”.
- The first screen you see will ask you to log into your Live account.
- After you have successfully logged in you will be asked to choose the user account that you wish to monitor. Check the box, click “Save”, then click “Close”.
- Now you need to log in to your Live account by clicking on this link.
- Click on “Edit settings” under the user name of your child.
- Now you will see the links for each of the four sections that I listed above. I suggest that you review each section and configure it accordingly. Be sure that you click “Save” at the top of the screen after your changes so that they can take effect.
I know that’s a lot to take in, but I think it is well worth it!
John "Mike" Wright