Let's face it, the internet is a wicked cesspool of filth and debauchery filled with weirdos, pervs, and foul-mouthed trolls. You can ensure that your kids remain untainted by these corrupting influences while they surf the web simply by activating the integrated Parental Controls of every major OS and gaming system. Here's how.
Windows relies on Microsoft's Family Safety website and its companion desktop program to handle user access control. You'll be able to set individual accounts per child and limit their access to risky websites, monitor what sites they visit (or, at least, try to), and limit the amount of time they spend on games and other applications.
- If you're on Windows 8, Scroll your mouse to the right edge of the screen and select Settings from the pop-out menu. For Windows 7, see if it's already installed by searching for Windows Live Family Safety from the Start menu—otherwise just download it.
- Select Control Panel -> Family Safety -> Manage settings on the Family Safety Website.
- Login to the family safety account using your Windows credentials (the ones you use to access your computer).
- Select which accounts you want to control, setting up individual accounts per child as needed. Make sure that you set passwords for each account and turn off guest browsing as it can be used to bypass these controls.
- Set the permissions for each kid by clicking Edit Settings under each of their names and activating the appropriate functions.
Unlike Windows, OSX Mavericks integrates all of its parental controls into the OS itself rather than rely on an external website. And in addition to monitoring and limiting your kid's surfing habits, you can also limit who they can interact with to defend against cyber bullies and pervs.
- Select Apple menu -> System Preferences -> Parental Controls
- Enter your Admin credentials
- For an existing user, click Enable Parental Controls, and then set up the controls. Add new users by clicking Add at the bottom of the user list and entering a name and password for the new account.
- For each account, you can set age rating limits for opening apps from the App Store in the Apps section, limit what websites can be visited in Safari in the Web section, who they can interact with in the Game Center and contact via email in the People section, and set time limits for general computer use and specific programs in the Time Limits section.
As with Windows and OSX you'll need to set up individual accounts and login credentials for each child. Also be sure to turn off guest browsing before you get started.
- Log into the Chromebook as the Admin account (the one you used when setting up the device)
- Add additional users by clicking the Add Users button in the bottom left corner of the screen.
- Open Chrome, go to chrome.com/manage, and sign in with your admin account.
- Select Manage and set specific permissions for each kid's account, dubbed Supervised Users, as well as view their browsing history and respond to requests to unblock specific websites.
- To restrict websites, select All of the web or Only specified sites under "Allow". You can enable or disable all of a site's sub domains—ie
paleofuture.gizmodo.com or gifmodo.gizmodo.com—all in one fell swoop by replacing the sub domain with an asterisk, as in *.gizmodo.com. Put the asterisk after the host (www.gizmodo.uk -> www.gizmodo.*) to disable sites in specific countries.
- Additionally, you can force enable Safe Search from the manager as well
If you want to control what your kids do on Android, the device will need to be running version 4.3 Jelly Bean which basically limits it to Nexus series phones and tablets.
- Open Settings either from the App Drawer or by swiping down from the top right edge of the device -> click Add User or Profile -> Select Restricted Profile.
- Tap the settings icon next to New profile to name the account and select which apps will be available to it using the neighboring toggle switch. Be warned, the system does not filter websites so if you're worried about little Johnny learning about the birds and the bees from BangBros, don't approve the use of browsers for that account.
- If you don't have the latest and greatest Google gadget, don't worry. Google Play is packed with third party parental control apps., just search for "parental control". Kid's Place and Norton Family are both quite popular and quite free.
- Open Settings -> General -> Restrictions
- Enable restrictions if you haven't already by tapping the radio button at the top of the screen and setting an access password that only you should know.
- Below the Enable Restrictions button, you'll see a list of available apps. Work your way through dictating which can and cannot be access without your authorization password.
- The subsequent sections allow you to set limits on in-app purchases, allowed content, and privacy settings such as turning off GPS or using third party apps.
- Open Quick Settings by swiping down from the top of the screen, select Settings -> Parental Controls
- Set up an Admin password that your kids won't be able to guess.
- Set restrictions on the following features:
- Web browsing
- The Email, Contacts, and Calendars apps
- Social network sharing
- The camera
- The ability to purchase from the content stores on your device (for example, the Amazon Appstore)
- The ability to play movies and TV shows from Amazon Instant Video
- Specific content types (for example, Books or Apps)
- Wireless connectivity
- Location-Based Services
You'll now be able to access all of these features while preventing your kids from doing so by simply entering you Admin password when prompted.
Setting up parental controls on an XB1 is very similar to setting them up on Windows 8.
- Sign in to your console.
- On your controller, press the Menu button -> select Settings.
- Scroll right to Family, then select the child profile that you want to modify, then set permissions for various features including content rating restrictions, web browsing, and whehter or not their bio shows up in the OneGuide. You can also set specific permissions for each section by selecting Use, but customize.
- And if you're rocking both an XB1 and a 360, you can control access for both using a single interface, thereby applying restrictions simultaneously to both systems, through the XBox Live website.
- Log in to your Master Account and make sure you password protect that account to prevent your kids from reversing the restrictions you set as well as set a 4-digit Parental controls passcode. Both are found under Settings -> Parental Controls
- Set up sub accounts for each kid under Settings -> Parental Controls -> Manage Sub Accounts and dictate what restrictions will be present on each.
- From this sub menu, you can restrict games, apps, and movies by age rating; turn off the web browser and disable voice, video, or text chats; prevent guest log ins (which you should); set spending limits in the Playstation Store, and restrict user-generated content.