Child safety is every bit as important with laptop computers as it is with desktop PCs. Many kids now have their own laptop for doing homework, playing games and connecting with peers. Parental controls can keep your child safe while using his laptop and can also give you a bit more peace of mind. Laptops running Windows Vista or Windows 7 come with parental control software pre-installed, which means there's no need to download a third-party program. Simply configure Windows Parental Controls with the desired rules and filters, and your kids are on their way to safer computing.
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Open the Parental Controls menu in Vista by clicking "Start," "Control Panel" and then select the Parental Controls icon. In Windows 7, Parental Controls has moved to User Accounts and Family Safety, also located in the Control Panel. Under User Accounts and Family Safety, click "Set up parental controls for any user."
Create a standard user account for your child. In Parental Controls, click "Create a new user account." After the new account is complete, return to the Parental Controls main menu to continue.
Select the child's user account and click "On" to enable Parental Controls.
Adjust the settings for each area you would like to restrict with Parental Controls. To limit the time kids can spend on the computer, click "Time Limits" and choose what time to allow computer usage and what time to forbid it. For game control, click "Games" and configure the desired game-playing rules for your child. You can block games based on content rating or age rating. You can also add specific games to block or block all games entirely.
Configure content filters for safer Internet browsing. In Windows Vista, Parental Controls comes with its own web content filtering system. To enable it, click on "Web Restrictions" in the Parental Controls window. Select "Block some websites or content." Under "Block web content automatically," choose the proper filtering level for your child.
In Windows 7, the web restrictions feature is no longer available. In order to filter Internet content, you have to get additional parental controls from other software. Not to worry, Microsoft integrated content filtering into Windows Live Family Safety, a part of the free Windows Live Essentials package. If you don't already have Windows Live Essentials installed, you can get it from Windows Update. Select the update package under "Recommended updates" and click "Install" to have Windows automatically add Windows Live Essentials to your computer.
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